On Giving Google What Google Wants

The SEO game has changed. Are you staying ahead of the curve?

The path of least resistance is always the most attractive. And many businesses have made fortunes by gaming Google’s algorithm.

But there’s a problem…

Those same businesses get completely wiped out the moment the next big Google update comes along.

And it’s harder than ever to fool Google. You shouldn’t even try. What’s important is to look beyond the algorithm of the day, and ask: what does Google really want?

Answer that question, and you can create an SEO strategy that delivers not just today, or the next six months – but for years and decades.

On this podcast, we’ll discuss:

  • What Google really wants
  • Trust, Authority and Relevance: The holy trinity of SEO and how to get them
  • The truth about link-building
  • The importance of playing the long game
  • The real dangers of “hacks” and “quick fixes”

Transcript

Introducer: Welcome to the Life Science Marketing Society Podcast, bringing you best practices, advice, and insight from marketing experts from across the life science industry and beyond. To get more insight from the Life Science Marketing Society please visit www.lifesciencemarketingsociety.org and grab your free membership.

Harrison Wright: Hello and welcome to the Life Science Marketing Society Podcast. I’m Harrison Wright.

Kenneth Vogt: And I’m Kenneth Vogt. Today we’re going to be considering a webinar that was entitled Why You Need to Rethink Your Search Marketing Strategy. It was put on by Stephen McTaggart who is truly a search engine expert and that is saying something these days. There’s a lot of interesting things to talk about in here and a lot of things have changed, because many of us feel like, “Well I used to know how SEO worked and now I’m not so much sure,” and so we’re going to dive into some of those details.

Harrison Wright: Yeah and there’s so much to unpack here. Was there anything in particular that stood out for you?

Kenneth Vogt: Well one thing that just an overarching principle that has shown up is that if you think you can game Google, you think you can fake out their algorithm, you can’t, it’s over. There was a time when you could. When you could anticipate what the machines were looking for and you could target the machines, rather than target the humans. But the machines have gotten so good at this now that it is pretty much indiscernible, you’ve got to do what works for humans; that is the people who are searching for information to make it work for the machines over at Google.

Because Google only has a single objective and that is to return relevant search results. In other words when somebody types something in, when they see the responses in the order that Google presents them they want people to think, “Yes that top one was the best possible answer to my search and the second one was the second best possible answer to my search.” It’s all up to the person who’s searching. They are the ones who determine what’s relevant not Google, amazingly and certainly not us.

You know we have a different objective, we want to get people to our website by any means possible within integrity of course. But we have to meet Google’s objective to give the end user a relevant search result that’s what it’s all going to come down to.

Harrison Wright: Absolutely. You know I remember the days of when you’d go on a website, you know maybe it was for a local service provider to something, you know maybe you go to your local dentist and at the bottom of the page in a color that you can barely see and really tiny text it would say, “Dentist, London; Dentist, Surrey; Dentist, Northampton,” Dentist all the surrounding towns, could be up to a hundred different towns and it was little text at the bottom and you would never see it unless you highlighted it, but it was all to game Google.

Kenneth Vogt: Exactly.

Harrison Wright: Not anymore.

Kenneth Vogt: No, they won’t put up with that stuff. There’s other things too that they even – that Google even told you to do. They told you back in the day, “Make sure you have all your Meta tags setup,” because that was one of the ways that they were figuring out early on, “Well what is this content really about?” So they were asking for the help of the website producers to say, “Would you help us understand what your website is about?”

Now that’s great, except people took advantage of that and they would put things in there like they’re competitor’s names and especially if they had a major competitor who’s brand was more well known and Google didn’t like that because it wasn’t about that other brand, it was about you and they would feel that would be misrepresentation. Well the reason they’d feel that way is because that’s how their customer would ultimately find it to be.

So even though Google told you to do certain things in the past, those things aren’t necessarily what Google wants you to do today. They’ll tell you, it’s not Google is hiding what they want. People get all upset, they go, “Oh Google changed their algorithm what are we going to do?” Well you do exactly what Google told you to do, when they said, “We changed our algorithm and now this is how we’re looking at things so please do this,” this, and this.

The bottom line there is it takes somebody who is immersed in this to really keep up with it, because it’s such a monster and it’s so big. There has been all kinds of things added to HGML to make it better for the search engines.

All these things are motoring along and you could just keep doing what you did in the past and all of a sudden you won’t get the same results, you’ll get worse results. And in some cases you will actually be penalized for doing something that they told you to do in the past. You know that’s the kind of thing that terrifies us. You think, “I did everything right except I haven’t kept up to date.” So it’s why you need to be regularly doing a technical audit on your site to make sure that things are lined up with Google’s current dogma.

Harrison Wright: Absolutely. One thing that Stephen summarized really well I thought was when he said that what Google really wants is to see trust, authority, and relevance. If you can meet those three criteria over the long term you’re going to be in a good position. What was particularly interesting was I don’t know to what extent many people who aren’t immersed in SEO understand this, but one of the most important things for the ranking of your website in the pages within are the links you have, links from other sites and what authority those sites have and how trusted they are, not just quantity of links, but getting cited by respected websites.

Kenneth Vogt: Right. Back in the way when Google first started the big idea that they had was the way they would figure out if a website was important was to see how many other websites linked to it. It was that simple. It worked at the beginning because you know nobody as trying to fake anything at that point. Nobody knew that there was anything to fake. But then when people realized, “Hey that’s what it is, I need to get a bunch of links.”

Well first they started off doing legitimate things like contacting other websites and saying, “Hey would you link to my content? I believe that we’ve got a mutual interest here. In fact we could link to each other.” And that made sense. But then people started thinking, “You know what if I created a website with a thousand links on it just to link to these pages? And what if I created a thousand of those websites? I could create a million links out there in the world and I could really boost some websites.” So people started doing that I mean as a business. They were selling links and Google got very upset about that and then they started actually punishing the people who had links from those sites.

Now the bad part about that is that you know what if somebody put a link up on a site like that to you without your knowledge or permission? You know like, “Oh boy.” Well fortunately they don’t have any incentive to do that anymore. It used to be that was kind of like a lead that they would use to say, “Hey I already linked to your site. You know I’m doing you a favor, would you link back to mine?” Of course they were trying to get links back to their link farms too. Again they wanted to build up the link farm itself.

That kind of game you just can’t play that anymore. It’s like what you said at the beginning one of the things that Google is looking for is trust. We have to act with integrity when we’re thinking about SEO because it is the only thing that works anymore.

Harrison Wright: It’s the only thing that works, but at the same time there’s you know the internets are a much more crowded space than it was ten years ago or even five years ago, hell even a year ago. The amount of available first-page real estate is still the same so you’ve got to be much smarter.

Kenneth Vogt: That’s true, yeah. Yeah the last time I looked and it’s been a little while there were 644 million websites in the world. That is a lot of competition for attention. And I say that’s an old number, I don’t even know what it is today but it would be shockingly large number.

Harrison Wright: Yes it would, it’s pretty incredible.

Kenneth Vogt: Yeah. Another thing that popped up out of this almost surprisingly your site has to be in good shape technically from the programmer’s standpoint, from the HGML coder’s standpoint. Otherwise the bots and the spiders that crawl the website can let lost. You have to do a good job technically. HGML was created in such a way that if you didn’t code it properly it would still show something unlike most programming languages that would just die, they would just stop. HGML was setup with the assumption that people weren’t going to be professional programmers and so they allow a little sloppiness. Well it works in that something will show up on the page, but that kind of stuff can really hurt you when it comes to Google recognizing what’s there.

They are also looking for things like fast load time. You think, “What does that have to do with results?” Well it doesn’t have to with results about the content, but it does have to with the experience that Google’s customer ends up having. And Google’s customers, all of us who are typing in searchers don’t like a slow website even if it’s got good information on it because we’re never going to see it because we’re not going to hang around long enough to see it. That’s a fail from Google’s standpoint so you’ll get punished for that.

Another thing that’s happening is the world has become mobile crazy. So does your website render well on mobile devices? It’s kind of a difficult problem because we were used to using a nice big screen and now we have this tiny little phone screen that we have to deal with, your site has to be mobile friendly in almost every industry.

Harrison Wright: Important points that people would do very well to remember. My big takeaway from all of this is that you’ve got to bear these factors in mind. You’ve got to demonstrate trust, authority, and relevance and more than that I think it’s worth stressing that if you want to win in a search game you’ve got to demonstrate more trust, more authority, and more relevance than your competitors.

Kenneth Vogt: Good point.

Harrison Wright: So it’s not enough to just say, “We’re trustworthy and authoritative and relevant,” it’s how well you meet those criteria compared to everyone else who’s competing in your area of the internet. If you look at the importance of quality links what kind of websites get quality links and more importantly what kind of web pages get quality links? They’re educational, compelling, informative content. It’s probably not going to be information about your products.

The way I see it if you’re going to play the SEO game either play it to win or don’t play it at all, because the only way you’re going to be able to win it is with and I know we harp on about this here at the Life Science Marketing Society, but the only way you’re going to win that game is with a consistent level of high-quality link-worthy content, stuff that stands out in a league of its own. If you can commit to producing that, tweaking it, testing it until you’re getting it right, getting the links and doing that over a period of years consistently then you should absolutely play a game.

There’s no point just doing a bit here and there unless it’s literally just the on-page, SEO tweaks that you do as part of good practice anyway and having that regular order, but in terms of winning an SEO it’s a long game, either play it or if you’re not going to play it you need to get your traffic primarily some other way.

Kenneth Vogt: Yeah that’s right. A truism that just keeps showing up and won’t die is content is king. At the end of the day you got to give people something that they found to be valuable and that’s just how it is.

You know I was thinking back to I think it was Pete Townsend from The Who who said, “You know the people keep saying rock and roll is dead” and he says, “well if it is then we’re dancing on the grave.” And rock and roll has now motored on decades past Pete Townsend. So here we are the same thing is happening with content on the web it’s never going to stop being so. That you’ve got to make that commitment to it. Then if you do the right things with SEO people will find your great content and all is wonderful in the world.

Harrison Wright: That it is. There’s a lot else we could talk about here, but I feel we have hit on the main points which is the purpose of this podcast. You got nothing else Ken?

Kenneth Vogt: No, in fact they should go listen to Stephen talk about this because he dives into a lot more details and he makes some other big points too. We’ve got to leave a few things out there for you to find.

Harrison Wright: Yeah I’ll go with that. Although I will leave you with one thing that Stephen said just to close off now I think about it which is, “These people that e-mail you saying, ‘Top quality SEO. First page of Google only $300.00.’ I know you weren’t going to anyway, but never answer them you’ll regret it.”

Kenneth Vogt: Amen to that. So thank you everybody for listening. Of course these podcasts continue. They are many webinars for you to investigate and you can hear us talk about. Be sure to go to the Life Science Marketing Society, sign up for the podcasts, it’s free and all those great contents available and we would love to have you. So for the Life Science Marketing Society I’m Kenneth Vogt.

Harrison Wright: And I’m Harrison Wright. See you soon.

Introducer: To get more insight from the Life Science Marketing Society please visit www.lifesciencemarketingsociety.org and grab your free membership.

[End of Audio]

Photo Credit: Search Engine Optimisation London

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