I am sitting on a plane off to visit my son in Portland, Oregon. I happened to be dwelling over a couple of articles in the Wall Street Journal that I saved, and thinking about a couple of videos and BLOG’s from Matt Cutts Google Engineer. I was thinking about this, because I am regularly asked, as are many people in the internet industry how do I get to the top of the search engines without spending a ton of money on pay-per-click (PPC)?
In one of the articles I read in the Wall Street Journal, a company owner was upset that he could lose his Google Search Engine Ranking by changing web name from .net to .com. Another company noted that they would sometimes disappear from the top search engine rankings for weeks at a time. Then I read an interesting quote, “We have to keep improving our algorithms and giving the best search results,” says Google software engineer Matt Cutts. “We can’t promise that if you’re No. 1 today, you’ll be No. 1 tomorrow.” Now that is what I call power. I can hear the old recycled line that originated in the Humphrey Bogart movie, “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”. You know the line…”Badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges”. However, I respect Google’s policy. It keeps the playing field level regardless of business size and money. Everyone is equal, probably one of the few sources of equality in business today.
Living with an Internationally Ranked Real Estate Agent who does 65% of her business from the web, I can relate to the frustration. Because of her web prominence she receives tons of phone calls and emails per day from vendors who claim they can make her number 1 on Google by some gimmick or program. Read again Carefully what Matt Cutts just said, “We can’t promise that if you’re No. 1 today, you’ll be No. 1 tomorrow.” Now if Google can’t promise you this, what would make anyone out there believe someone has a secret to Google. Answer: Don’t Believe It!!!
Okay then, so what does make Google tick? What is it going to take to make your website move up the Google Search ladder? Truthfully speaking we don’t have the exact answer to that, but good ol’ Matt has given some clues what not to do, and some simple advice to anyone that will definitely make an improvement. Just go to Matt Cutts BLOG and read through some of his BLOGs. Great information if you are willing to listen, believe and sort out what he is really saying.
Gimmicks and Gadgets do not equate to Google searches.
There are a huge number of companies out there that offer “gimmicks” or “gadgets” that claim to bolster your organic search engine placement. One of the biggest “gimmicks” is Link Exchange. There is no documented, empirical, reliable, valid, clearly demonstrative evidence that link exchange helps your website. I know what you are saying, “but, everyone does it, everyone says it works”. What evidence do you have? Demonstrate to me in an empirical process that link exchange is effective. If it isn’t true, then why would Matt Cutts, Google Engineer say it isn’t effective. You know what the biggest problem is, is that there are people who are trying to come up with a “gimmick” to “trick” the search engines. Do you know why? One, because people are willing to pay for quick fixes without work to generate leads from their website. Two, because “gimmick” and “gadget” companies make tons of money from unsuspecting businesses that believe them, without asking the right question, “show me the empirical evidence”. Think about something for a minute. Do you believe for one second that Google is not going to figure out that the reason you are trying to exchange links is to move up on the search engines regardless of what your website is really about.
Follow this simple example: you are in the business of Real Estate in your local area, so you put up a very nice site with useful information, but are not linking with anyone. Now take website 2 no useful content but has a few key words strung around the site, but has a huge reciprocal link exchange network. You know I am linking to everybody and everybody is linking to me. Do you really believe that Google wants to make web ranking that overly simplified, and useless. Not hardly. I got into an argument with a company trying to sell Link Exchange as a strategy. Then I referred him to the following little video from Matt Cutts Matt Cutts Interview note the second half of the video on reciprocal linking and how Google has warned that you can get penalized. In Matt Cutts BLOG entitled Text Links and Page Rank, he states the following, “Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank.” Those people can probably guess that Google does consider buying text links for PageRank purposes to be outside our quality guidelines.” There it is in Black and White. Stop it. There are other “gimmicks” and “gadgets” here are my personal “rules of thumb”.
1. If someone claims to put you at the top of the search engines it’s not true. If you missed it re read the first part of this BLOG.
2. If someone claims that by purchasing a “gimmick” or “gadget” that will move you up in the search engines, do some searching, if you don’t know where to search, ask someone who is not involved with the company or sells a similar product, and get some unbiased professional opinions and data. Brad Carroll, at Dakno Marketing is a great resource or people like myself who are unpaid unbiased representatives of what is good about the web and consumer behavior.
3. Always ask the question, “what value does this ‘gimmick’ or ‘gadget’ really provide for my consumer? If you can’t come up with a clear value for your consumer, it’s probably not a good value for yourself.
What does Google want?
Okay so the big question. What does Google want from your website? Well if you are looking for an exact answer to their formulas and algorithms, I don’t have an answer. However, I do have a strategy that comes from Google themselves. Are you ready? Do what they do. No, really think about what Google does. Why do people use search engines? Answer: to find useful relevant information that equates with what their searching for. What does Google try to provide. It tries to provide for their users the most useful information it can based on what searcher is looking for. If Google can not provide the kind of search that is useful and relevant to the user, what do you think would happen? The users would go somewhere else to do their search. How long do you think they can stay in business. Not long. So how do you apply this to your website. Well let’s pull the Google play book, and see why they went from a little known search engine company to the giant they are today.
1. Be Relevant to the people who are looking for your product or service. What information on your website is really relevant to what people are looking for. If you have people searching for widgets, and you sell widgets, it’s not enough to tell people you sell them, it may be more important that you can answer the questions about widgets that widget buyers are asking.
2. Know who is searching for you. Google constantly is trying to understand the people who use their service. Why? Because they know that the better they understand their users, and try to give them what they want, the more likely they are to come back. Do some research, who are the people coming to your website, what are they like, what do they want? Do you even know?
3. Make it easy to use. Is there really anything simpler then typing what you want to look for in a bar click “go” and you get the results you are looking for. Here is a clue for your website, make your site not only easy to use, but just as easy to find the information they are looking for.
4. Make your website anonymous and free to the user. What does it cost to search in Google? Nothing. What information do you have to give in order to do a search on Google? None. Why? Does this work, because people trust Google without Google saying “Trust Me”. They don’t have to, they exemplify it. In your website, give the useful relevant information away, and don’t make people sign up for it in order to get it, because quite truthfully, they will go somewhere else to get it for free.
5. Look to add new information regularly. Google is constantly on the search to add new relevant information. Don’t let your website be static. Your business doesn’t stay the same, things change so does the information. Update it. Keep people aware. Sounds like a BLOG opportunity maybe.
6. Surprise your customer. You know what I think Google does so well? Just when you think that there is nothing more that a search engine can do, Google adds searching by maps, images, creating API’s, email, etc., and even within those things little surprises to make your life just a little easier. Take the hint create surprises on your website that will make your website better for your client. Google is NOT static. Your website shouldn’t be either.
I can go on, and maybe in a future BLOG I will, for now, I will leave you with this. Stop buying the gadget, or gimmick for the sole purpose of trying to trick the search engine and just run the Google play book. It’s a winner. Google has demonstrated it over and over again.