To Dominate Google, You Need to Play a Different Game and Follow Different Rules
Posted by drew on Sept. 1, 2014, 6 p.m.
Last week’s post was about the propensity of many SEOs to jump on the bandwagon of fads and whip themselves into a fury over the latest idea that could potentially increase their rankings. And while I still stand by the idea that we, as Search Engine Marketers, should stick to the basic techniques for the most part and put less emphasis on the newer fads, I must admit the fact that Google can change the rules whenever they want.
And they do change the rules, quite often. Each update with a new ranking factor, each redesign of the SERP, and each algorithm refresh serves effectively as a rule change in the game of SEO.
Perhaps this is why SEOs are so eager to ride the wave of the fads. Take authorship photos as an example. When they were introduced, many SEOs saw it as a way to attract attention in the SERP, so they rushed to take advantage of the feature (perhaps even to the point of abuse). Then, earlier this year, Google announced they would be removing the author photos from the results page.
So can Google really just change the rules whenever they want? Well, yes. But why would they choose to do that? Just to keep us on our toes? Probably not. These rule changes are all to support the main rule that Google follows: deliver users exactly what they are looking for.
This big rule is difficult to follow, especially when SEOs are always trying to manipulate the system and show up where they probably shouldn’t. This is why Google ends up changing the rules so much. They are trying to eliminate the sites that aren’t relevant to searches, and improve the ranking for relevant, high-quality sites.
The key to consistent Google rankings, unaffected by the rule changes that are so common, is to know what rules Google follows, and then to follow those as well. You see, Google can create a game for us in which they set the rules, but they are also following their own set of rules in a different game: the game of user satisfaction. And that’s the game to play.
There has been a trend toward this attitude for a while now, evidenced by the popularity of content marketing. Content marketing involves disseminating information about your business and your industry with the intention of becoming a trusted source of knowledge and educating potential consumers to help them make smart purchases.
This practice helps users find quality products and services that are suited to their individual needs. This is exactly the game that Google is playing. They want to give users exactly what they are looking for, and content marketers ultimately want users to find the product or service that will meet their needs.
Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is this: you can try to play Google’s game the best you can (you can even cheat the game), but you should be looking higher if you want to achieve real sustainable success for your business. You should be playing the same game that Google itself is playing.
Now how do you do this? Producing quality content helps, as does understanding your customers’ needs through the creation of personas. Fusionbox rarely sees drops in ranking and traffic after algorithm changes, simply because we aren’t trying to please Google’s algorithm,