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Google’s Go-To-Market Strategy: Horrible

Sometimes having too many smart people with a singular focus in a room can hurt you. I’m beginning to believe this is the case at Google; too many PhD’s in mathematics and computer science, not enough marketers in the room who don’t have any skin in the game. Someone who can be objective about what they see and the best way to capitalize it. It seems that Google just never gets it.

Enter the + (And Everything Else Google Launched Yesterday)

Google + made its appearance to the world yesterday. I haven’t used it and can’t speak to it. What I can speak to is the unveiling strategy of Google+ and how oddly familiar it is to Google Wave’s introduction. And, if we’re keeping score on this one, I was right about Google Wave in the end. As Danny Sullivan said yesterday:

Google's End of Quarter Product Launch Madness

Product List and Reading Materials from 6-28-2011

Because Google pushed so much out the door yesterday, it’s hard to keep track of everything that surfaced. I’m not even sure this is a complete list, but there are some very interesting things that happened yesterday.

  1. Google+
  2. Google Swiffy
  3. Google What Do You Love (WDYL) Search
  4. Google’s Aesthetic New Black Toolbar
  5. Google Places New Look

Whew. That’s an awful lot of stuff to throw at the wall, especially in one day. While everyone is phreaking on Google+, quietly Google put out an awesome resource of Swiffy, converting SWF files to HTML 5. And the changes to the Google Places page is very interesting too, along with the toolbar change.

Throwing Crap Against the Wall

I think even hack, unseasoned marketers know that’s probably not the best way to introduce products to market place or the public. It’s the, forgive the language here, “Shit Stick” method. You throw as much shit at the wall as you can, and see what sticks and holds. For company that has, what seems to be, an unlimited marketing and product development budget, I guess this can be successful.

I’d argue that it makes more fiscal sense, as well as marketing sense, to develop one or two great ideas and create an intriguing, solid go-to-market strategy. But, you say, that’s what Google did with Google Wave.

Google Can't Market Worth a DamnGoogle Can’t Market Worth a Damn

Say “STOP” when this sounds familiar: groundbreaking product, huge hype (over-hype), limited admission (huge bottleneck) in order to create the appearance of exclusivity disguised as “slow testing”, and little to no mention from anyone outside the tech and search industry. Wow, that’s exactly what Google Wave was. But, it’s also Google+’s entry into the market place. It has the same scent as Google Wave, same short-sidedness as Google Wave, and nearly the same go-to-market strategy as Google Wave.

Marketing to the Technological Elite Isn’t a Great General Marketing Strategy

Can Google please hire just one marketer to sit in these “product launch” meetings? You know, someone who knows a little bit of something about the general populous, societal behavior, and how to get people into using a product? Because Google hasn’t done it right, again. Unless of course, they only want the tech and search community to use the tool?

What Google is trying to do is get people who don’t need Google+ to use it. And the best way to do that is to explain the benefit and the need to general populous. Not to the people who will use it anyway. They market this product to the people who, for the most part, are fluent in technology and not to folks that aren’t. And that, people, is how scores are kept: can you make this product attractive to someone who doesn’t need it (right now) and make them use it? That is where market saturation is reached. They’ve got it backwards: Google markets to the technological elite and savvy and hopes it filters down to the general public.

And, if Google ties employee bonuses to social product success, as reported by Geekosystem, then their products will consistently fail. Yes, that’s an attractive carrot to dangle; however, in my opinion, people only work just hard enough to achieve bonus levels. Meaning, the initial push should secure the bonus and then no one has to care.

Sacrificing Your Core for Frills?Sacrificing the Core for The Next Big Thing?

Dave Winer’s post “Google Yawn” is an interesting one, and I think it hits home the point: killing who you are and what you do to be everything to everyone. I don’t know how Google+ will shake out because I haven’t used it. I hope it succeeds, I really do. But, if you’re asking me based on the go-to-market strategy, then I say it has a very slim chance of survival past 9 months. Google product launches are nothing more, to me, than a big, expensive firework: huge explosion, flashy presentation, loud noises, and they fizzle away into oblivion.


A Great Tool You’re Not Using: Wonder Wheel

Google Wonder Wheel may be the best kept secret that very few search marketers are using. Or, maybe you all are, and I just don’t know it. Even Google doesn’t have much information on the tool.

At SMX Advanced there was a “Leveraging SEO Power Tools” session, and it was a very useful session, but I didn’t hear anyone speak about this tool. Frankly, I’m not sure that I would consider it a full-out SEO power tool; however, Wonder Wheel is a tool that can help you in three huge SEO tasks with a little bit of elbow grease.

What is Google Wonder Wheel and Where Do I Find It?

Wonder Wheel is Google’s attempt to help users simplify search by creating a mind-map of sorts, a map of user-related queries connected to the searcher’s original query. But don’t my word for it, here’s Adam from Google demonstrating Wonder Wheel.

Where You Find It and What It Looks Like

Looking Through a Glass Onion

Yet, if you peel back what Google says at face-value about this tool, infuse some SEO knowledge, you’ll see it’s more than just a related queries tool to help you simplify search discovery. Essentially Google is providing you with closely-linked semantic and temporal keywords that user’s use. And, by proxy, Google recognizes as closely-related temporally and semantically keywords and phrases to the original keyword phrase.

3 Big SEO Research Tasks Wonder Wheel Tackles

When you look at Wonder Wheel as an applied semantic and temporal database, the possibilities for how you can leverage this tool become endless. I use this tool daily for three tasks: competitive research and monitoring, on-site content keyword variations, and for link building efforts.

A note of caution here: from my own experience using this tool, this tool is very query dependent and market place dependent. That is to say, going beyond the second-level extension usually puts you too far out from the original query to be helpful, see the example below:
Be careful not to go too far on Wonder Wheel

Competitor Research and Monitoring

You can use Wonder Wheel to monitor and research competitors for closely related terms to your target term to find out just how dominant they are within the space. Remember that close semantic and temporal terms, while not being an exact match to the term, all support and relate to each other, providing Google clues to thematic structure. If you want more information on how I’m arriving at this (taking liberties and extrapolating a bit), I would suggest SEO By the Sea’s Semantic Closeness post and SEO is Undead Again Post.

Wonder Wheel may also provide you clues of what your client should really be targeting in the SERPs. For example, your client wanted to position themselves well for Term X, and through checking related terms Y and Z, you find more of their significant market place competitors reside in Z. You do your keyword research homework and find that indeed Z is more viable term than X, and will be more valuable to your client in the long-term.

On-site Content Variations for Target Terms

Sometimes there’s only so far you can stretch your target keyword term on a page. You’ve used different tenses and variations, but at the risk of stuffing and snuffing out the user experience, you need to find a new way. Wonder Wheel can help you there too (if you were thinking Panda, you’re on the right track).

Wonder Wheel can help you find semantic and temporal keyword phrases that can you can supplement in the content, helping spread its tentacles for more relevancy, “normalizing” it a bit, and helping it save the user experience not reading like keyword-stuffed set of AM/FM radio instructions.

Anchor Text Variations for Links

Think of Wonder Wheel as an ace up your sleeve for link anchor text variation. Exact match anchor is necessary and powerful, but nothing screams manipulation more than hundreds/thousands exact match anchor text to your site. Getting semantically and temporally close-related anchors plays a dual role: keeps thematic consistency within the link graph (i.e. keeps target term relevancy high) while also providing link graph variation and normalization to normalize it.

But it’s not just for inbound links, you can use this technique for internal linking schemes through body content. If you use your target term in a few spots, you can switch up that internal anchor text with one of these variations as well.

Wonder Wheel: An All Purpose ToolThe Bottom Line: A Versatile Tool

As you can see, Google Wonder Wheel is a rather versatile tool that can help you leverage the semantic and temporal web. These aren’t the only uses for Wonder Wheel, but some that you can start implementing into your routines today. Google has suggested Wonder Wheel be used for AdWords, creating ad group themes. However, since I’ve never used it for that purpose (yet), I can’t comment on how well it works. But if you have I’d love to hear about your experiences with it.


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