If you work in an agency or run your own consulting business, I know you’ve been frustrated. So put your tongue in your cheek, and have fun venting with me.
By the way, this post was admittedly written with a few past clients in mind, in a previous life. I’ve since put myself in a position to only work with clients that match with my ideals. In consulting, that’s how it should be. I highly recommend happy relationships. It makes SEO fun.
I remember the Quality Deserves Freshness algorithm over a year ago. This update allowed fresher content to have a better chance at ranking. For example, if you’re looking for information on SMX East, you’d want to be served the 2011 conference… not the 2010 conference.
Well sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Like many people, we were directed to the 2010 SMX East page in September.
It makes sense that Google would reintroduce this now following so many Panda updates. It says to white hats, “go forth and write more. We appreciate it.” It says to black hats, “don’t quickly write crap as a spam tactic. Panda will get you.” Whether that’s true or not, I’m sure the timing of this update was by design.
The potential issue with this in my mind is how domain authority may play into it. Is this a factor that will weigh higher with big websites (high domain authority), of which usually has a higher budget to be able to hire writers to crank out new content more regularly? I still like the old feeling of natural search being a ground where small guys are on a level playing field with the rich dudes.
Need proof? Ask your mom to name her favorite store in the mall. Then ask her to their website online. If she doesn’t use the search bar in her browser or go directly to Google.com, I’ll give you a dollar.
We know people are creatures of habit. Search engines have become the main touch point in their online day-to-day. For many people, if you restrict their access to a search engine, they’ll fall apart like I do when I’m given an O’doul’s at a party. Why didn’t your mother try to type the website directly into the URL bar?
On the bright side, when 50% of your natural search visits are from variations of your brand name or URL spelling, at least your numbers look good – that may give you some job security if you spin it right.
But Google is a pain in the ass because with all this ownership and inside data, they don’t really play well with others. They don’t share. Take WMT for example – it’s very thin data in the grand scheme of things. It’s like giving a free sample, but never letting you buy the product.
And what’s with the rich snippets? I give you the content, and you post it in your result pages? I want people to click through. How do I know they’re not clicking through? Because I’m not even clicking through on my own site. I’ve been sucked into the Google vortex.
Don’t get me started on feeds, schema.org, or Google Places.
Granted, there’s a lot to gripe about. When I go to a search convention, I see I’m not alone. I never skip a panel with a Googler – it’s always a fun beatdown. But the same thing happens every time. By the end of the scolding, the Googler – be it an engineer or product manager, essentially commits social suicide, as he throws his hands in the air with the answer, “I don’t know.” As hard as he tries, he can’t answer all the questions he gets. It’s not always because he’s not allowed to, but I think it’s because he doesn’t know how to.
I think there are ghosts in the machine. I envision Dali painting with a thousands of gears all clumped together. Turn one, there’s no telling how many others will connect. At this point, I don’t think Google knows. They can try to reshape the monstrosity, but at this point the algorithm has to be pretty insurmountable. Add on top of this, there are several other algorithms running different Google properties that are probably comparably unruly.
But let’s face it. Google created this mess, and search engines created the SEO – both the good and the bad ones. But despite the hat you wear, we’re all dealing with our own KPI’s against this mutant algorithm. So are our competitors. Trial and error, testing, and patience are the key to building your experience. When you put together a marketing strategy, you’re typically trying to overcome an obstacle. You’re putting together a plan to move past the immovable objects. Google is an immovable object, so the SEO needs to strategize with that in mind. That’s far different than what many SEOs do by trying to defeat or complain about it. Since goal setting is the key to proper strategy, the SEO (and the employer of the SEO) need to plan touchpoints that accept these realities.
Things to ask yourself when choosing your tactics:
With this clarity comes opportunity. Again, many of our competitors are dealing with Google head on, and trying to plow through the algorithm instead of dance with it. They’re probably granted the same amount of time and budget as you. SEO is a household word in business, but it’s still rarely done right in the grand scheme of things. Spend some time with a clear understanding of what Google really is to your website, and spend more time in the planning stage.