Google Plays the Popularity Game
Just finished reading an excellent article by Owen Powis on the Wordtracker.com site. He basically bemoans how Google, with its new algorithms for determining page rank, has quite frankly gotten a lot of things wrong. In case you’re new to SEO (if you’re really new, that stands for search engine optimization), Google uses a complex set of rules to determine the search results when a user searches for a term. While no one knows the exact set of rules that go into play (Google ain’t sayin’), most SEO experts agree that the right combination of keywords and links plays a significant role. Lately, social media is contributing heavily into the equation. In short, to rank well, you need to be popular!
Is Popularity the Right Yardstick?
So what’s so wrong with being popular? Barbie and Ken types would say absolutely nothing! However, in the real world, sometimes you just need to find information and, more often than not, the information you seek is buried so deep in the page rankings that you could never hope to find it. There is a ton of content out there in the World Wide Web, but the only content that gets found is content that is marketed well. SEM (search engine marketing) has become big business. To rank well these days, you need to do proper keyword term research; pepper your article with these terms in your title tags, alt tags, headers and body copy; blast your article out to the social media world (especially the big four: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+); and encourage others to link to your article or blog post and add comments. Good luck, there’s a lot of competition out there! It would help, too, if you had a mailing list and RSS feed with lots of subscribers so you could have an audience to which you could send your articles and posts. If you’re really serious, you could use Google AdWords and purchase a higher ranking.
As you can see, this is an awful lot of work. Of course, the payoff is high, but there are a few problems with this scenario. Owen makes a good point when he did a search for “an apple”. He did get Wikipedia as his first result, which actually did have an article about the fruit. But the following results for the entire first page were all about Apple, the company. Obviously, anyone searching for “an apple” isn’t going to want search results about the company called Apple. Why did he get all these search results for the company instead of the fruit? The company Apple is very popular and gets linked to in myriad ways. That’s great if you are looking for a phone, tablet, music player or computer, but not so great if you’re looking for something to eat!
Next we need to think about a level playing field. Not everyone is going to agree, but it can’t hurt to discuss. When you look at what needs to be done to rank well, you can see that the bigger budget wins. Yes, this is the nature of competition and the point here is not to put down success. However, if you’re a one-person shop or service, do you have the time to do all that is required to rank well by yourself? Do you have the budget to hire a firm to do it for you? For the searcher, if all you need is a simple service that can be done better and quicker by a one-person shop, what are your odds of finding that service provider online these days? Popularity isn’t always the right indicator.
Google, Hear Our Cry!
While Google is certainly trying to make their search engine as relevant as possible, and it is a herculean task, some work still needs to be done. It would be great to reward actual content as opposed to the most popular content. Here’s hoping that Google hears our cry and gets it right. Now pardon me while I send this out to my social media outlets!
Do you agree or disagree? Leave your comments below so that this article becomes hugely popular and ranks well! 🙂