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.