There’s an awful lot of seemingly anti-Google rhetoric amongst the SEO community. People talk a great deal about the ways that Google tends to make their life harder; the relatively recent Panda updates are universally bemoaned and there’s always discussion about how to “beat the system” and how to, essentially, cheat your way to the top of the search rankings. It can sometimes feel like search engine optimization is the battle of You vs. Google, only Google somehow always manages to have the upper hand.
I’m here to tell you, though, to forget all that. I for one welcome our new technocratic overlords – and I’d encourage anyone looking to improve their SEO to consider the fact that you’ll see better results if you work with Google and not against them.
Work With Google Not Against Them
See that sentence on the left? That’s Google’s mission statement; the founding principle on which they have built their booming multi-million-dollar empire. It’s estimated that the internet contains about five million terabytes of data – a number so large it’s hard to put into perspective.
Imagine that the internet is a library. It’s an endless library – at least as large as the world itself, with shelves stretching out in every direction as far as the eye could see. The books are all jumbled up on the shelves, too; there’s no Dewey Decimal System here to make things marginally easier for you. If you wanted to find a particular book, you’d be stuffed – there’s no way you could dig it out in a lifetime. So there’s an index, to help you get where you need to be.
That index is called Google. (You see what I did there?) There are others, of course, but Google is the largest – and even so, they estimate that they’ve only managed to index 0.04% of the ‘books’ in the library so far. But they’re working on it, and that percentage creeps up by an infinitesimally small yet still significant fraction every day. The staff at Google are essentially librarians, and their goal in life is to make it as easy as possible for anyone – no matter who they are or what they do – to be able to find out whatever they need or want to know, whenever they need or want to know it, in a way that they can understand and put to use no matter who or where they are.
So, you see, in reality Google wants to find your website or article. Their algorithms and web crawlers aren’t there to hide your page, to stuff it down the rankings – they’re there to uncover your work, to bring what you do to the people who want or need to see it the most. They simply need to be able to make sure that your site really is the one that people want to go to, so all you need to do is make sure that’s actually the case. And how do you do that? Well, that brings me on to my next subheading:
Don’t Be Evil
Often described as “Google’s unofficial official mission statement”, ‘don’t be evil’ is said to be a common mantra around the Google office. In the words of Google founder Larry Page, “we have a mantra: don’t be evil, which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone. So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing.”
What this means for the SEO practitioner is, essentially, that if you use tactics that Google sees as ‘being evil’ – overzealous keyword stuffing, relentless link spamming, underhanded hidden pages of useless content designed to lure people in – they’ll punish you for it by not ranking you highly on the world’s largest and most commonly used index of the world wide web.
The thing is, though, people don’t like those tactics anyway. People don’t want to use websites that have essentially tricked them into clicking; nobody wants to feel like they’ve been conned. By working – as I said earlier – with Google rather than against them, you can take advantage of all their years of experience in bringing people the information they want in the way they want it. They know what the public likes; they’ve invested more money and more time into figuring it out than you have. Trust them to have done their jobs.
It Works Both Ways
Once you’ve realized this, it soon becomes clear that it’s not just you who can be on Google’s side – Google is on your side, too. They’ve developed a variety of tools to make it easier for them to see you, and for you to be seen by them. They understand that what website owners, bloggers and SEO gurus actually want is to get to the top of search engine results to allow the public to see what they have to offer – so they’re helping you do that, with everything from open-source coding to keyword ranking tools to the most successful pay-per-click advertising model the world has ever known.
They’re a company, obviously, and they also need to make a profit and pay their staff and keep themselves going – so they’re motivated to make entirely certain that anything they offer for money works as well as it should. It’s estimated that on average, businesses make $2 for every $1 they spend on Google AdWords – and how many types of advertising can say that they consistently and repeatedly offer a 100% profit? Google’s keyword research tool is the foundation of SEO; their sharing services are seamlessly integrated with all their products; their aggregation services are probably the most popular the world has ever known.
I know this post has sounded like a bit of a love letter to Google, and that’s okay – as you might have guessed, I’m a fan. But if you take anything from it at all, let it be this: Google is not the enemy.
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