I am deliberately stepping into the bear-trap of only talking about Google. But as they lead the way, own the market & our own clients can often only justify focussing on them at first, I happily do so.
I’ve been around in the web a long, long time and remember the first ham-fisted & shameless instances of webmasters repeating the same phrases hundreds of times in the ‘keywords’ tag.
In a cyber world where the attitude was (and still should be) :
“one world, all, everyone, share”
the world displayed only
“Me, I, just me, give”.
This was not what the internet was created for and not the expectation of it’s users (then or now).
Returning the web to what it was meant to be
This practice quickly stopped & then when Google came along some years later we started to see better, intelligent results.
As a graduate of Artificial Intelligence I knew that it was going to get harder for sites to show up on page 1 for terms that weren’t relevant.
However the same underlying mentality of ‘get to the top at all costs’ remains in the competitive nature of business and a now a cycle is now well established which forces all websites to join in and do what they can to survive.
Find a hack, Google close it…….. Find a hack, Google close it……
The latest hack of course being semi-contrived blog and social media linking, so heavily relied on even employment agencies starting listing it as a “skill” & some “experts” believed proper cose & ‘document types’ , basic SEO and accessibility were all dead (in SEO terms) & that link building was the only thing left.
Along came a Penguin.
Ultimately of course, contrived link building practices led to Google’s new line in the sand, ‘Penguin’ to do away with excessive link building practices & this created a great deal of collateral damage with good sites disappearing as a result of the algorithm.
No doubt somewhere or other brains are ticking away to find a new mechanism to fool Google’s measuring stick of relevance. If so the cycle will continue with the same old mantra of :
‘Convince Google we are more relevant than our competitors, regardless of whether it’s true or not (preferably to the point were we hold the top positions and they hold none).
It is my belief that this is understandable because it seems like the only way to survive.
But it is cumbersome & dangerous & ultimately unsustainable because the world & most markets in it are now transparent anyway.
Maybe its time for a more gentle touch and an ethical SEO approach from the business world in general, after all, there is nothing stopping a company from utilising ‘Adwords’.
Google are getting very good at swatting down sites that employ techniques to mislead their algorithm. this means whatever techniques a web owner employs to promote their site, they are unsustainable if they are an attempt to skew search results. The likely repercussions are for their whole domain, not just “targetted” landing pages.
With each Google roll out the customer, quite rightly, tightens his grip on power & will make fewer mistakes through lack of choice. Factor in other routes to market such as Social Media buzzes etc and is there really any benefit in chasing the next SEO fix (pun intended)
A sustainable approach to Digital Marketing
Surely it is time to accept the inevitable or at least make sure you are fit for purpose when the final nail is hammered into the coffin.
It seems to me at least that the way forward is exactly what Google want and have always said.
Invest in and engage with your website.
Contribute to your niche and your industry.
Add value, unconditionally.
Accept a degree of social responsibility.
Some businesses are going to read that & think I am an unrealistic idealist or that I do not live in the same world as they do. They will think they have an insight into some kind of harsh machismo reality that the rest of us don’t.
But before anyone disappears down that rabbit hole of delusion, ask what choice we have given how the internet has shrunk the effects of the geographical distances between us and the transparency the www has given us.
With the sheer numbers of people providing limitless information is it realistic that any one site dominates even the most generic of search results.
And in a world where ROI measures everything, my four points above are going to be difficult things for the granular thinking, bean counters of the business world to accept.
The thing is, Im sure that is fine by their competitors who know that it is time to let go of the side of the pool & swim in the open waters of original content.
by Keith Trigwell