I recently watched on YouTube a gathering of SEO celebrities discuss the current state of Search Engine Optimization in the aftermath of the latest updates to Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithms.
I could only shake my head at what I saw, because it seemed to me that there is actual resentment and anger at what Google is doing, in trying to add maximum value to its own customers. Many SEO Consultants still believe that their job is simply to get their client a high SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) ranking.
Thanks to Google, those days are over. Today, the job of SEO is to help clients EARN that high ranking because they DESERVE that high ranking. If the client does NOT deserve a high ranking, it is the job of the SEO consultant to explain the reasons to the client. SEO Consultants need to illustrate the gap between where the client is, and where they need to be with respect to their messaging and its content.
They need to talk about content with respect to how and WHERE to deliver it for maximum business effectiveness, IN ADDITION to a high SERP placement for a given keyword. It is time that SEO Consultants figured out that, they are now a key part of a business’ marketing team, and they must contribute more than just backlinks and on-page tweaking.
Ultimately, Google is working to create a result- where if your business sucks your SERPs will suck too, and that there will be nothing you can do about it, except to improve your business. If SEO Consultants want to be a part of that future, then we had better start focusing on how we can help businesses improve, and in so doing, improve their SERP rankings at the same time.
Let us consider the Google value proposition for a moment? Google’s ambition is to help searchers find what they are looking for within its Results Pages. Now, let me be clear; Google has no interest whatsoever in helping its users find - businesses which only CLAIM TO BE what the user is looking for.
From the moment that Google released TBPR (Toolbar PageRank) back in the year 2000, SEO Consultants have been looking to game the system for positive client results. Customers wanted to rank, with no regard to whether sitting on top of SERPs meant that the customer was providing the most value to the person who found them. It was all about attrition, all about traffic. The more people saw you, the more people would be converted. It worked.
Never mind that in the early days, businesses were serving up Bounce Rates in the 70 to 80% range. That means that 7-8 or 10 visitors to a site did NOT find what they were looking for, and left the site without looking at another page.
Google is not a non-profit organization. To sell advertisements above those SERPs, they needed to provide much better relevancy to those searching its index. If a vendor was going to buy an ad, there needed to be a better match between buyers and sellers. Therefore, Google, seeking to provide better relevant performance, created increasingly restrictive rules on what businesses could do with their websites. Businesses need to comply with Google’s rules if they wanted a high SERP ranking, traffic to their pages, and eventually customers from Customers via Google’s index.
SEO Consultants complaining about the severity of their algorithm changes completely miss the point. It is not about them, and the fact that SEO Consultants have been able to charge confiscatory rates to businesses not inclined to understand how to rank on the Search Engines. Some SEO Consultants now find themselves struggling, and looking for new ways to game the system. Like VARs that get upset when a supplier sells items directly, SEO Consultants that add little value against Panda and Penguin algorithms are screaming bloody murder.
Let me be clear. If you sell backlinks, no matter how relevant you believe them to be, you are cheating, and I hope Google kicks you in the ass. Backlinks should be gained organically. Sites that rock earn backlinks quickly and consistently. Sites that suck do not. It is usually these same sucky sites, which really have no interest in attempting real improvement in providing value to their clients, which ultimately purchase backlinks.
Yeah, I said it. If you buy backlinks, you suck like a bodybuilder who takes steroids. He may look great for a while, but you know he’s going to eventually end up with an appendage that would not excite a horny gerbil, and eventually, his liver is going to explode. Is that what you want for your website? Is that what you want for your business?
A website should represent who a business REALLY is, and what a business can REALLY do. If a crappy business ranks, because they bought a ton of backlinks, to Google, that site’s high SERPS placement is an unmitigated LIE. It should not be there, and it serves to diminish Google’s value to its customers, period.
Purchased links are nothing more than SEO Steroids. Over time, they will bite your SEO client in the ass, relevant or not, because with significant traffic from high SERPS a lousy business can only piss off a large number of potential clients at a faster rate. They will fail, or do a poor job, again leading Google to wonder why that site sits atop its SERPs. Google is still tweaking their algorithms, and will do so, until with every SERP, the business that sits on top, is not just a place with perfect SEO, but a real business that in everything it does, is positively badass.
Okay, so what is a badass business? A badass business is one that handles all aspects of its business in a professional and productive way. A business provides benefits to their customers in all that they do. In their marketing, sales, customer service, and products/solutions, they remain top-of-mind with those who need what that business offers. In short, they do #RCS, or “Real Company Shit”.
They take the time to determine and profile who their customers are, what they want, and they set about giving it to them. Companies that practice #RCS do not have to worry as much about pricing as businesses that provide no added value.
Example: NewEgg. (www.newegg.com) As a business goes, NewEgg has it wired. I am a geek. I am NewEgg’s target audience, and they set about making me happy. Are they the cheapest? Almost never, but I could not care less, when what I get from NewEgg is often worth more than I pay for their products in mere Customer Satisfaction. In my former home, I was surrounded on three sides by Fry’s Electronics stores equal distances away. I buy from NewEgg, because I can wait a day in most cases, and NewEgg ships by FedEx by default. BINGO. (FedEx is another #RCS company)
As far as Organic Search Engine Optimization, NewEgg does not do anything that any other business with their revenue can’t do. They do a hell of a lot that other businesses either can’t or won’t do to make me happy. In the image above, I ran that query three ways - Local, Worldwide, and Incognito. With at least 20 places near me that I could get Computers and Electronics, NewEgg sat atop the SERP each time. Do you think BestBuy cannot afford killer SEO? Or Tiger Direct? Or Fry’s? Case closed, baby.
That’s right, you can’t leave now, Mr. SEO Wunderkind. You can’t just plug in your magic and move on to the next low SERP disaster. SEO consultants need to stay and accept some of the pain involved in helping a business succeed. It can take weeks or months for Organic SEO to show positive results, but those results are lasting, and you need to stick around as a resource. SEO must be part of a business’ overall marketing solution.
You must help with Adwords. You must help with PPC. How many business owners understand the term “Long Tail Keyword”? You need to stick around in case of negative SEO attacks against your client. As a professional, you should be on retainer to assist on a constant basis. You are the person who understands Analytics; do you expect the business owner to pick it up at a glance? You have to be there to -explain the results of ALL of your client’s efforts online. With SEOMOZ or Traffic Travis, I can teach a child OnPage SEO in a few days. Are you worth that big-ass consulting check?
Are your clients schooled in Google Authorship? Do they know WHY some pages need Canonical tags and others do not? Are they going to be de-listed from Google’s index due to all the Link Farms and Article Spinners you signed them up for? Do you have the slightest interest in helping protect and enhance your client’s Brand? It’s called adding value, Bunkie. True Organic Search Engine Optimization is not a job, but a skilled profession, one where SEO Consultants need to constantly be learning, and enhancing their own abilities.
When I watched that group of SEO celebrities bemoan Google’s algorithm changes, and what those changes meant to their SEO practices, I cringed a bit, because I don’t think they understand the wonderful opportunity these changes represent. If they as SEO Consultants can help turn weak businesses into stars, imagine the potential benefits to their own practices! SEO will never be a true profession without professionals.
We in the SEO field should be licking our chops, because if we really are as good as the checks we cash, we can look forward to doing memorable stuff that actually makes a difference. I am personally thrilled that Darwin is about to take hold of SEO, and shakeout the cheaters, and the pretenders. We should align ourselves with Google under the same goal of helping our clients’ businesses improve, and get the word out to the clients who need them.
Businesses used to think about SEO like they did about used car salesmen. We can do better, and frankly, I am glad that Google is forcing us to do just that.