Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why You Shouldn't Try To "Beat" Search Engines

This was sent out in the Marketing Whore Newsletter on 2/6/07, so please note that some of the Google numbers may have changed since then... Consider this a free sample, sans the subscribers only offer. Yes, I am whoring the newsletter. I want you to subscribe.

As written in Three Internet Contact Points one of the primary ways for your site to be found is via Internet search engines. The proof of how important search engine traffic lies in the number of articles, websites and software offerings which tell the webmaster how to 'beat the Google algorithm,' 'how to feed search engine spiders,' etc. I'm going to leave all those practices and gadgets to those folks (uh, after I remind you of this bit, Google Problems?) and talk about what I believe.

I believe in content. Write good, decent content and folks will find you in the search engines. It may not seem like it can compete with Mr SEO or some webmaster traffic philosophy, but it not only can ~ it will.

This is because humans use Google and other search engines to find specific information. Keywords and meta tags, once a huge part of how things were at least told to us as the way to be found, really have little practical use. This is why I say so:

Putting keywords such as 'teen sex' into a search engine will get you how many listings? 2,230,000. Do you think a person is going to be satisfied with that result? Nope. They are likely going to modify their search with additional information. They will try "teen sex" education (1,200,000 results), "teen sex" education condoms (158,000 results), "teen sex" education condoms boys stds (31,800 results), "teen sex" education condoms boys stds gym class (998 results), and "teen sex" education condoms boys stds prom (974 results).

They will do this because this helps them more precisely find the information they are looking for. (The same is done with entertainment and can be replicated with searches for "erotic stories," "webcam girls," PSOs etc.) Now the old school webmasters will tell you that this abundance of listings is exactly why you need to worry about Google algorithms, keyword selection (and purchase), and other SEO tricks to get primary placement & high page listings. But really now, who is going to buy all those words and phrases? And if you consider that this is only one search, by one person, can you guess what others you might need to buy? All those words replacing "boys" for "boy's" and for "girls" too. Not to mention "gym class" in quotes, and phy ed etc. Just buying "teen sex" isn't going to be a short-cut either. I could just have easily put in "sex education," "sex practices," "underage," "premarital," "high school" etc. Are you going to correctly guess and buy all those keywords?

One of the main things that webmasters and SEOs fail to understand when they want to 'beat' Google is what Google is trying to do. Google is trying to find the most relevant information that matches the searcher's query. It is trying to use programs to replicate human understanding and searching; they are trying to get the programs/algorithm to interpret what a searcher wants and give it to them. What you say about your site, with keywords and meta tags etc, is not the same as what your site is. You are likely much more (hopefully not less than) what your keywords and meta stuff says you are. Google knows that. This is why keywords are not gold or God or whatever you may have been taught.

In trying to take the search as question and help the person find the answer, Google employs not just what you say about your site, but what you site actually says. In other words, it 'reads' your site. It notes all the words and phrases, topics, image descriptions, tags and labels you have at your site. And, to check how much of an authority you are, it looks to see not only who links to you but for what. If your site is on teen abstinence and another site for parents regarding sex talk with kids links to you, that says more about you being an authority on teen abstinence than 100 different websites talking about you in assorted ways such as your cute puppy pics. Also, as seen with the 'miserable failure' that is George Bush, the words used to link to you are important. So 10 bloggers saying "teen abstinence" as the phrase to link to your site is more powerful than you might have thought.

This was not designed to keep small sites small or make big sites bigger, but is one way for the algorithm to interpret how much authority you do have. It may seem unfair at the onset, like some huge mountain to climb when your competition seems to have all the links placing them high on Google. But you can control these things. You control how much of an authority you are.

First of all, provide great, quality content. Even if you're a membership site selling photos, images, and movie downloads to members use words as much as possible especially on non-password protected pages. This not only makes sense as far as telling the visiting human what they are purchasing, but it tells Google and the other search engines trying to help humans what you are ~ and what you are not.

If folks did little but provide great content, and update frequently, they'd still be found in search engines by the folks who wanted what they have to offer. But you don't need to stop there.

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Blogger Sara Winters said...

I knew you'd written about Google a couple of times before, but dang if I remembered to work in a quote from you. Oh well. Now, I'd love it if you could write (yet another) related article on Google Hypocrisy. Adult sites may show up in search, but where does their ad money get them, really?

March 29, 2007 4:02 PM  

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