A Business Relationship with Google?
Last week I had an interesting conversation with a potential client. They had been pitched by someone doing search engine optimization who had described Google as a huge, very powerful company that would be indifferent to doing harm to their business. He said that he could “trick” Google and get high position in search engine results. This would be fine as long as he didn’t get caught. This got me thinking about the relationship between a business that depends on Google for search engine traffic and the search engine giant themselves.
Like It or Not, You’re a Business Partner with Google
A good way to look at the relationship is as a business partnership. No money changes hands; but both sides seek certain benefits from the relationship. The relationship can succeed for a long time, without controversy or difficulty, if each side recognizes what the other side wants, and seeks to provide it. Then the relationship can be a “win-win” with both sides benefiting.
What Does Google Want?
Google is a business. They want to deliver search results that are relevant to queries that searchers enter, so that searchers will make use of their service again and see the advertising that brings Google its revenue. What they don’t want is for several listings of their results to take the searcher to the same information, or for some of their listings to take the searcher to sites that are not relevant to the query. Another way to look at it is this: if your site is highly relevant to some query terms, and Google can discover that relevance, then they want to give you a high position in search results for those query terms.
So here’s how the partnership works. Google wants sites that are relevant to queries, so that they can discover that relevance. They don’t want to be fooled. You want a high position in search engine results. So your part of the partnership is to be sure that your site has high-quality, interesting content that’s relevant to topics of interest to searchers. And you should be aware how Google makes these decisions (actually that’s where I come in!), and be sure your site is structured so that Google can discern this relevance. Then Google will happily carry out their part of the partnership, which is to give you a high position in relevant search results.
But, you might say, getting high position in organic results can take months or longer. If there’s a trick that works and can get me a good position faster, why not use it? What’s the harm? The harm comes if Google discovers your “tricks” and penalizes you for them. A severe penalty, that I’ve seen, is to simply remove you site from their index. Searchers won’t find you listed for any terms. And they can take their time relisting you. Think about the revenue loss if you’re simply taken out of Google and stay out for a month or two. And then have to rebuild your traffic from zero.
What’s the chance that Google will catch you? Remember that providing relevant search results is Google’s main business–so they put a lot of resources into catching tricksters. And remember, too, that they hire all of the Stanford PhDs that they want to apply to these problems! If you want to try to trick hoards of Stanford PhDs with your Web site, and you think they’ll never catch you, good luck! I’d prefer to give them what they want, so that these hoards of the brightest people in our business are working to put my sites and my clients’ sites at the top of their listings.
The Bottom Line
Provide useful, interesting content, in the form that Google wants to see it. That’s the way to make your Web marketing campaign a success with Google–and with other search engines, too.