The Marketing Word | Differentiation Marketing

You Can’t Game Google

Had a great laugh with my friend Jim this week. He asked if I was going to listen in on a webinar for a new (read: recycled) SEO technique. My exact words to him were: “Thanks. But I'll pass. I've given up on SEO. I think it is all bullshit because Google just goes and changes their algorithms at whim. You wind up chasing your tail.”

Jim and I had discussed his latest foray into SEO a few weeks before. He had paid a guy to create a ton of backlinks to his site (already on the first page of Google) to drive it to the very top. The backlinks were created and the home page of his site disappeared from Google search. Oh, it may have been somewhere on page 57 or so, but for all intents and purposes, it was gone. A couple of his back pages showed up on pages 2 and 3, but the home page was nowhere.

He contacted the guy, had him remove all those lovely backlinks, and lo and behold, his home page was once again on the first page of Google. Said Jim, “Lesson learned.”

So, imagine his absolute joy when he realized he was listening to a webinar extolling the virtues of paying someone to create a network of backlinks (and you could get it for only $47 a month!). We laughed ourselves silly.

Here’s the thing:
Google has already figured out the game. Google has already figured out EVERY game. It is Google. It knows all. It sees all. It controls the game.

A quick check with friends who have sites on the first page of Google (in various niches ranging from transmissions to vacation rentals) told me what I already suspected. Want to get on the first page of Google? Do this:

Have good, relevant content.
Don’t be a sales page.
It’s better to have some time behind your domain name rather than be brand new.
Use keywords, but don’t keyword “stuff.”

I’ll go one step further. Don’t be Google-dependent. If your traffic depends on being on the first page of Google, pay Google. Very simple.

But most of us don’t have businesses that need to be found by unknown prospects from all over the globe. Most of us have businesses with a specific target market.

If you address your target market, listen to their needs and give them what they want, they’ll find your site. Especially if you feature it prominently in your marketing materials.

It’s the same thing with as-yet-unknown prospects. Find where they hang out (online and offline) and market to them there.

Frankly, pinning your business’s future on your Google search rank is not a great plan. You need to be doing a lot more than hoping someone clicks on that link. You need a comprehensive marketing plan. Google is just one piece of the puzzle.

Google is a moving target. And it moves a lot faster than most of us. Do this: Provide a good product or service, understand your customer base, take care of your people. Then market! The Google ranking will take care of itself.

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  • Yvonne Herbst · 02/09/2012 at 5:26 am

    Excellent advice. The local small business owners I know on the whole feel too overwhelmed managing the many parts of their business and usually dismiss the value of blogging or creating good ongoing content because they “don’t have time.” And people who are comfortable expressing themselves in writing, and doing it well, tend to be in the minority. What advice do you have for business owners who say they are too busy to blog and just want to put up a website and be done with it?

  • Admin comment by barbarag · 02/18/2012 at 10:40 am

    Hi Yvonne,
    Gee … thanks for the opportunity for shameless self-promotion. My advice to anyone, whether they are blogging or creating an info product is to use a format that they are most comfortable with. If they are comfy in front of a camera, do a video blog post. If they are more comfortable “chatting” with a friend, have a friend ask 3-5 questions on a topic and digitally record it. They can use it as a podcast, audio blog post or have it transcribed. And for those who just want to put up a site and “be done with it” I would say “Outsource your blog posts (and your other marketing) but don’t think that having a website up means that you are done. It’s just one piece of the marketing puzzle.”

    So, shameless self-promotion time — my Marketing in 4 Hours a Week shows small business owners how to get their baseline marketing DONE in the least amount of time possible. 🙂

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