Big Media “Wants” Top Organic Placement From Google? Get in Line.
…several big brand media companies who, according to an [AdAge], have told Google they deserve higher rankings in Google’s search results. Not only that, but one executive has also labeled the rest of the content-producing web — including bloggers like us — as “parasites” who “benefit disproportionately” from Google’s ranking algorithm.
Big Media/Big Publishing Banked Too Heavily On Branding
I’m sorry to hear that. This is no one but Big Media and Big Business’s fault in the first place. For years they’ve resisted search engine optimization (SEO), banking heavily on brand recognition and brand management to garner the links and do the heavy lifting. As if people will naturally want to link to them, after all, they are the preeminent authority. And, from their point of view, I can see where that line of thought is, to certain extent, useful. But, as noted by nearly every search marketer in the past 5 years, Google controls search; ergo Google makes or breaks brands. And, apparently, with all the money Big Media/Big Publishing are kicking into the kitty, they’d like a little “more” assurance that they’ll be “taken care of”. Back to Matt McGee for the list of demands:
The big media companies’ complaints include:
- Google’s search algorithm in general, which they say “penalizes paid content”
- PageRank specifically, because it places too much of an emphasis on links
- The appearance of Google’s search results, which hurts big brands because every result looks the same
How To Read The List of “Demands”:
- We’d like for PageRank to matter, but specifically for our sites create an algorithmic change which will ignore inbound links. The only thing we expect PageRank to take into account for our sites is our content and keyword relevance/density and authority/trust. We can’t be bothered with learning how to market our content and products effectively, or strategically.
- We don’t like that all the results for a given query look nearly identical. Since we provide a greater share of the monies, we’d like to have our results highlighted in a day-glo orange with flashing lights around it. Alright? Great. And, of course, we’d like a larger font size and a unique font for only our news sources. We expect all other results to have exactly the same font size and format.
What Will Google Do?
Do I expect Google to give in to all these demands? No. Do I except some concessions to be made? Of course. If the “Fat Cats” (i.e. The New York Times, WSJ, Time Inc, Hearst, ESPN, etc.) are unhappy, then you lose profit. If you lose profit, your stock value decrease (even more than it already has), and no one is happy. As Matt mentioned, the Vince Algorithmic change, was pretty much instituted for the large brands to ensure they show up within the SERPs for more general queries, like “soda pop”.
That’s a pretty big concession already. Small/Medium sized businesses have been working for years with SEO firms to rank well for general and semi-general keywords. And, in one fell swoop, Google essentially erased that work without so much as the big companies having to do a lick of acutal optimization. Now, faced again with the same issues, the big companies are being a bit more brazen. I doubt there was an actual threat in the Google’s Publishers Advisory Council meeting, but there were more than likely overtones and half-measures tossed around that indicated if Google didn’t “right this wrong“, dollars will be pulled.
How much more can small/medium businesses endure before Google ultimately kowtows to Big Media/Big Business? Big Business already got an algorithmic change to favor them for “general queries”. Now they want the long-tail too. My answer to that: TOUGH SHIT. DO SOME SEO TOO.
The Need To Unlearn
It went official this week: Google now has behaviorally-targeted PPC Ads. Before we talk about the ramifications of this act on small/business owners, let’s figure out what this actually means.
Explaining Google Behaviorally-Targeted PPC Ads System:
Google has raised privacy concerns with its newly launched interest-based advertising, which displays ads based on users’ previous searches and page views.
The new Google advertising system, currently in beta, links “categories of interest” to the user’s browser, allowing targeted ads to appear even when the user is looking at a page totally unrelated to the ad’s subject matter.
Let’s not forget to mention, even though Google’s not saying it, they’re targeting by IP Address as well. Meaning, you don’t have to be logged into your Google Account to get “personalized”, behaviorally-targeted ads. And, this is just the beginning folks. While it’s not fully-instituted in SERPs (search engine results pages), the SEO/SEM community has been following this trend for over a year now, and we’ve seen instances of “personalized” results peeking in and out of the SERPs already.
If you read my November 2008 post, I discussed this topic there as well, but briefly.
Why Small Business Owners Need To Unlearn What They Know About SEO:
Unlearning is about the most difficult thing to ask anyone to do, let alone small/business owners who just got on the SEO bandwagon and want to see RANK. For years they’ve resisted, were reluctant to throw their hat in the search/web marketing ring. And, sadly, for them, the rules have changed.
SERP Rank is Dead
RANK is dead. The introduction of behaviorally targeted, personalized search with PPC has now opened up the flood gates. In this new era, it hardly matters where you “rank” for certain keywords. Users will have the most relevant results served up to them based on previous search habits and geographic locality.
Mind you, this does not mean SEO is dead. Far from it. SEO is more important than ever. With this new spin on search, comes decreased visibility for terms that national/global users would have found you for. Competitive or not, you could have sloppy SEO and still do well. Add in the fact that “brands” now have “higher trust”, thanks to the Vince Algorithm change, it makes it all the more important to have solid, core SEO built and implemented onsite.
All this aside, for years owners have been duped, in large part by the SEO community itself, to focus on where you RANK for keywords. And, boy, did they buy in. It consumes them. It perpetuates a never-ending cycle of calls about less-than-business-centric keywords, because they did a search and saw that they went from Position 7 to Position 10. They’re not taking into account the one thing they all got into business for in the first place: to make sales. To pad the bottom-line with profit.
Unlearn Your Obsession With Rank
Yes, that’s right. Stop thinking about it. If you need something to do because it’s a rainy day, or you don’t have meetings, then look at them (and then throw them away). Otherwise, stop it. Instead, focus on if you’re site is converting users to a sale, to a purchase, to an anything, as long as it drives more business through the doors. And, considering, the downward-spiraling economic disaster looming in the coming months, this should be your only focus: get more business coming through the door.
Rank is a luxury. Sales aren’t. Quit wasting your time talking about why a keyword dropped from 3 to 5, and start focusing on if your site is fully-optimized onsite, if your user paths are clean and concise, and if your forms are painless and easy. Once again, in the near-future, everyone’s SERPs are going to be different for the same keyword, based on numerous factors and habits. Make sure you’re focusing on sales and conversions, that’s all that really matters.
Google Hears A Who?
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ 105th birthday celebration, Google teamed up Seuss Enterprises for a very cool and special logo.