The shifting sands of SEM
Physicists have it easy, for chemists it’s a doddle and what could be easier than biology? What they study tends to stay pretty much the same and all they have to do is uncover the rules. What an easy life! (Apologies to scientists).
With Search Engine Marketing (SEM) we have a fascinating and frustrating situation where what we study changes all the time. I wonder how Mr Newton would have fared if the apple had taken different amounts of time to hit the ground each day?
In a friendly chat with a Senate Committee, Eric Schmidt, Google’s then CEO, indicated that Google had made 516 updates to its algorithm in one year having tested 13,000. Quite a few, and remember that none of these are public. We see them only in the effect they have on the search listings. Just for clarity, this means that the rules governing the ‘science’ of SEM on Google have changed 516 times in a year, good luck with that Mr Newton.
So where does that leave the frustrated search engine marketing professionals and their clients? Is SEM even possible?
Fortunately, the answer is a qualified ‘yes’, but the real secret is in the approach you take. If you set out, as many still do, to backwards engineer Google’s algorithm and treat the whole thing like a true science then you may get some satisfaction from the process, but you will not get any measure of stable results. Good positions and stable results come from a completely different way of looking at SEM and in many ways from ignoring SEM.
The first question you should ask is, what does Google want? After all, it’s their ball and their game, we’re all just wanting to play.
Google’s success as a search engine was, is and will be based on providing a good experience for their users. For a search engine, this means relevant results. If you search for ‘custard socks’ you want to find the best possible sites for that particular type of tasty footwear.
Our task is, therefore, to produce the best site possible for users and let Google do the rest. The catch is, of course, that ‘the best site’ does still mean the best site according to Google’s algorithm. So we’re back to second-guessing the big brains at Google? Not at all, because just as we have to play in Google’s game, it has to play in the bigger game of the Web. Google needs to be able to recognise what the rest of us will see as the best sites, not define them for itself. Therefore the Google algorithm has the ultimate goal of being able to select the best sites as recognised by the majority of Web users.
So what is a good site and what will Google see as a good site?
In principle, it is very straightforward. Unique and relevant content, appropriate keywords and links. Good sites will have plenty of information which contains keywords that people are looking for, be well structured with good internal links and linked to by lots of other websites and social media. Simple? Fortunately for us as an agency, it’s far from simple, and the above really only goes as far as explaining our basic philosophy of working with search engines to produce the best possible sites for our clients, resisting the temptation to put top search rankings as the primary goal. Stable top rankings can only be achieved as a result of site excellence!
If you’d like to know more and discuss how your website(s) can be improved get in touch and we’ll run through some specific ideas with you.