Now I don’t necessarily think that Google hates SEO (Search Engine Optimization) service providers since hate is a rather strong word, but I do believe that there is currently an unspoken war being waged against SEOs. Just like any love hate relationship, it’s a complicated one, and has been for some time.
Any public company, once they go public must hold shareholders as “top dog” or albeit, eventually risk a hostile takeover. It all boils down to the almighty dollar. That’s right, all the changes Google has made recently have no incentive but to drive companies away from SEO providers and send them to the Google Adwords platform, which is as Google says “Puts your message in front of potential customers right when they’re searching for what you have to offer.”
Not that anyone should be surprised by the fact that Google likes to make their shareholders money. After all, they do have a promise to uphold, right? Isn’t that the whole point of going public? All that shareholder money is used to build something greater and more profitable than you could have built without it.
User Experience vs. Maximizing Revenue
User experience should outweigh revenue concerns. In a perfect world this would be the case, a world without shareholders in Google’s case. They’re trying to balance the fact that almost everyone that turns on their computer uses Google as a search engine and that Google still needs to increase revenues to make shareholders happy. It’s a tough line to walk. You’ve maxed out searches, what’s next?
Is your user experience worse off than it used to be? No matter how much Google works with companies to try and make Adwords campaigns better… they just aren’t The advertising side of the house is not better than the organic side of the house. For highly targeted results, it’s organic all the way. In fact, it’s these results that have made Google what it is today.
While Google’s organic search algorithm is enviable in every geek circle, their Adwords platform is lacking in relevancy and is only made worse off by people joining up that have no clue how to run a campaign, driving up the cost per click, making a headache for the people with serious CPC campaigns.
CPC (Cost-Per-Click) or PPC (Pay-Per-Click), whether you’re a Googler or a marketer, is just not as targeted as organic search. When you have someone that’s inexperienced controlling the keywords they bid on, “Houston we have a problem.” With the organic side of the house, Google performs with stellar results, offering up the most relevant results available today versus any other search platform. Some search engine optimization people may disagree with me here and point out some random results that just don’t make sense and that’s fine, wear yourself out. There’s no doubt in my mind though that Google offers the best results of any search engine, with Bing seemingly trailing every update Google puts out.
Back to business here… The unspoken war on SEO has reached a peak. With fewer organic results showing above the fold, where does the madness end and where does relevancy begin? Right now if you hop on over to Google’s Adwords Express you will see that they are offering small businesses a way to advertise their business online and you can even “let them do the work.”
It’s a great concept but what about relevancy and giving the user the best experience? I’ve tried Adwords Express once and that was all I needed to see… In my opinion it was less than stellar, much less.
How Google Makes Money
Google makes money through its Adwords advertising program. It’s highly effective for businesses of all shapes and sizes and typically a great way for companies to advertise their products and/or services online. The best thing about Adwords is that it’s highly relevant, and if a campaign is well put together, it can also be highly profitable. It’s making Google money, hand over fist, but is it good enough for the shareholders?
How Google Wants To Make Money
Maybe not the original idea of the Google founders (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) as stated in Google’s 2004 SEC filing of their Mission section, “Our search results will be objective and we will not accept payment for inclusion or ranking in them.” But ultimately, it can be argued that it’s how the shareholders want them to make money. The question then becomes… Where do “search results” begin and where do they end?
Google became extremely popular because of the highly relevant results they provide their users; the concept is still brilliant today and still unmatched. What are they to do now that shareholders are knocking on their door about making more money? They have to make their advertising more relevant, which they have been steadily working towards. Their advertising has to become more relevant as they move their ads further and further down the page until, what some SEO professionals believe will be the entire page above the fold. Even Microsoft has recently got in on the act with the site Scroogled, telling the country the truth about Google’s shopping results and how all of them just happen to be Paid Results.
The big question here is, have they crossed the line with shopping and will they end up doing the same with search? If you’re like some that believe search will soon be taken over by advertising then the Adwords Express landing page might look like this the next time you visit it.
As ad relevancy increases it would only make sense that Google could pull this off. With services like Adwords express, Google can focus on giving consumers what they want in a highly focused niche in a local area, thus maximizing revenue and increasing ad creep to the shareholder’s delight.
SEO Makes Google Better
Something that “SEO haters” out there will probably disagree with, but it’s the truth. SEO has for a long time made Google a better search engine. In fact, Google has been strategically using SEOs and even fear tactics directed at SEO providers for a number of years to bend the internet to their liking, and they’ve done it quite effectively. If you can get millions of websites to implement tags just the way you would like them implemented, then you win, you being Google. There’s nothing quite like free labor, but if you want to be in the index then you must play by the rules. That’s the main fear tactic used over the years and it has generally worked very well.
Can the War on SEO Be Stopped?
I don’t know if the war on SEO will ever be put to rest. As long as Google is making money from search, there will always be SEOs out there trying to figure out the best way to get their sites to the top. There will always be Google updates and there will always be the uninformed SEO, yammering on about how this update killed all of their work, complaining about how tough SEO is.
The war may eventually die down a bit with many seeing a barrier to entry into the SEO field as too high to hurdle over, and this is good news for Google in general and for the industry itself. I’ve heard so many different people shout the “Death of SEO” that I’m not even going to honor one post with a link in acknowledgement. The fact is that Google depends on links to rank sites in its index. There’s really no other way to measure the relevance of a site other than that. Whether it’s coming from a blog, a social media post, etc. and no matter how “good” the search algorithm gets or how the web changes, there will always be SEO, as long as there is a Google.
The war wages on…
About the Author: A veteran of the traditional SEO industry with thousands of hours of research and analysis into SEO trends and industry changes. Chris Walker has honed his offerings for local businesses through the founding of Rank Local – Local SEO Company, which offers local search marketing services to small businesses, more importantly those looking to improve their presence in search engines for local search terms. Describing himself as a warrior for small businesses success, he says that small business owners have the ability to compete with much larger companies on the same level, without the access to a never ending stream of capital.