A guest post by an anonymous writer appeared in TechCrunch, called The Time Has Come To Regulate Search Engine Marketing And SEO. Anytime I hear about regulating search engine marketing, I go to see the street brawl.
The article focused on how evil Google, as the lKing of search engines, is. The writer makes valid points about how the search engine works and how ill advised it is to worship the Google god, because it can grant you a kingdom one day, and destroy your business just as swiftly the next.
From the article,
It’s now conventional wisdom that search engine optimization, representing the organic result sets on any search query, is more voodoo than science. Through an uncontrolled set of factors search engines determine which listings appear at the top and bottom of any individual query. In addition, consumer behavior dictates the top three results on any search page are all that matter. If you happen to own an online business, unless you exist within those top three, the amount of individual traffic you will obtain from organic listings is very, very low.
I found it curious that the fault was placed on Google for our search behavior preferences. Somehow Google manages to control what sites we’re permitted to find. In a sense, yes, this is true. All search engines try to locate and present what they consider to be quality sites that meet our search queries. (This is, of course, a pain in the neck for any business that wants to be favored and ranked well.) The writer states that the goal of business is to be found in the top 3 search results. If a marketer can’t achieve this victory for their client, they may as well throw in the towel. I feel that Google didn’t create this situation. Search engines are reacting to us and what we do, not making decisions for us to follow.
In fact, every search engine offers several ways for a site to be presented in SERPS because they understand and study searcher behavior. We are attracted to phrases and web site descriptions more than rank. We want images and video demos. We seek customer product reviews. Bing figured out that we want to know more than what a simple page description can tell us. They realized that we can be persuaded to click when offered other ways to answer our questions. They offer a better preview of a page before you click on it. We are scanning far past the top results, looking for a connection and reason to visit the presented web page. What speaks to us varies from person to person. This is the true challenge for search marketing. How do you appeal to different user queries?
The writer claimed that SEO is “voodoo”. I disagree. SEO and usability/user experience optimization practices, when applied together, offer intelligent, tasked-based, user satisfied search results. We create pages for what searchers and prospective customers want to find, rather than what some contrived, controlled, paid for and manipulated query result may be presented. For web site owners and search engines to know what people want, there is constant research and tracking into how we look for it, what we call it, when we want our information, why we want it, where we want it placed and all the different words we use to locate it on the Internet.
The reason so-called “black hat” search engine marketing works is that consumer behavior can be influenced and manipulated so easily. There’s no voodoo in that either. Rather, there’s a short window of time for some companies to take advantage of the latest buzz. Somebody is paid mucho bucks to know what we want. What we’re thinking. What has just jumped into consumer radar. Like fishnet stockings.
Why We Search What We Search For
Strolling in town with my husband one night, he spots a store window with a headless, shapely mannequin wearing fishnet stockings. He mumbles outloud, “Fish net stockings….”
Me, the wife who is gazing up at the stars and enjoying the gentle breeze, replies, “What?” The man repeats…“fishnet stockings”…and so I ask what the heck he is talking about.
“You should wear some,” he suggests.
I spit or grunt (can’t remember.) He knows I hate dresses on me. I don’t own any, other than the poor piece I wore to a wedding last Fall that shall hang in my closet forever. I figure this is one of those spice up the marriage conversations where I feel pressure to dye my hair blond and call myself, “Tanya”. I push back with a grumpy, “I wore them in 6th grade. I insisted my mom let me shave my legs so I could.”
Husband finds it amazing I wore them when I was 11 years old and feels that I should do it again, for old times sake.
What would I search on to find some to wear? “Fishnet stockings”? “Fish net stockings”? “Are fish net stockings naughty?” or would I check out the fashion and style angle and try, “latest fishnet stocking fashions”, “how to wear fishnet stockings” or “fish net stockings for baby boomers who haven’t worn the damned things in years….?”
To know how we search is the big mystery. This is what search engines are studying and the search results we get are based on our searcher behavior, which just means, how and why we search for stuff. Our search behavior is not created by Google and neither is your businesses fate, if you know what you’re doing.
Search results pages are closely tied to how we search. If we don’t find what we want, we leave. This is something search engines don’t want. This is why they don’t want to put sites in good spots that we may not want. If you build a site people don’t want, but you expect Google to rank it high anyway, no matter what….then you’re talking voodoo.
Related article: Is Most of SEO Just A Boondoggle? by Jill Whalen