Inbound Links = Networking Opportunity

Searching and BacklinksInbound links really are, as of right now, the Holy Grail of gaining more favor with Google. The theory goes that if your site and content are so good, that site visitors are going to be compelled to link to you when mentioning you on their site.

Inbound links are harder to get than ever. Back in the day folks didn’t hesitate to link to other sites they found interesting, nifty or cool. Getting those links in 2015 is a challenge. Folks don’t link out as much as they used to — some too worried about their own SEO and losing “link juice” or just not wanting to risk sending visitors off their site.

I’m not an SEO — and don’t play one on T.V. — but what I do know is that if you discover an unexpected link coming into your site — that’s a networking opportunity you just have to take advantage of!

So how do you discover inbound links? There are all kinds of sites and tools — here’s a couple to get you going:

  1. View the “Referrers” section of your hosting stats (AWSTATS is very common). Go to your cPanel and page down to LOGS to view available statistical tracking offered by your Web host.
  2. Google Analytics
  3. SEMrush Search Engine Marketing Tools: Sign up for a free account and check Backlinks.

When I have some time to play with statistics and I discover a site that found enough value in any of my sites to link to me, I always stop by their Website and thank them. If the mention and link are in a Blog post, I’ll contribute to the conversation in the comments and again thank them for their support. This little effort on your part can be the beginning of some great partnerships!

Search engines put allot of relevancy on one-way inbound links — sometimes too much so without enough discrimination. But for the time being that’s the way things work and if another site owner “out there” gives you that golden link that search engines rely on to rank you higher, it is well worth your time to thank them!

At your service,
Judith

P.S. Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” Read my full Affiliate Disclosure Statement here.

Ten Commandments of Search Engines

Ten Commandments of Search EnginesTime for a little updating to one of the most popular articles on this site!

Even after Panda and Penguin where Google made it clear that we should be concerned about our site visitors first, on a daily basis I have clients who want to do the very things that Google has made clear are spammy, lack quality and will cause your site to not rank well. Both of those algos haven’t even been run again since last fall! How do you like having your rankings teetering on Google’s whim?

In the ever-changing search engine algorithms unfortunately there will be collateral damage — unintended consequences where good sites experience negative impact. That’s why you quit fretting about Google and begin being laser focused on your market/customers.

No — this is not a “how to recover” article. This is how to build a Website strategy for the long term, regardless of what fits Google may have at any given point in time. To have your entire “plan” be reliant on free/organic Google rankings is not a recommended strategy to build your business, so let’s get that out there before we proceed.

I find myself warning clients on a daily basis, those stuck in the keyword stuffing, gratuitous content creation, spammy linking practices of the past — that they are on borrowed time. “If I SEO, can I get on the top page?”, “How do I SEO for cheap?”, “If I ‘do” SEO, then what?” — these are all questions I fielded just this week. Rankings are fleeting and if you are currently ranking well without correcting these clearly called-out practices by Google, your days are numbered!

Unfortunately, many times the spam of easy listings and “top 10 positions” drowns out the truth of what is required to gain and maintain relevant rankings. Forget Top 10 — did you notice how many organics are now above the fold (what visitors see without having to scroll vertically)? One, two, none? Then there are a handful below the fold — you’ve got to beat those folks to hit that top page. Good luck with that!

In order to have realistic goals and expectations I think the first thing we need to do is put the massivity of the online world into perspective:

Based on the above, what intelligent person would not take as a given the work that will be required to get found? As you know, it is not uncommon when doing keyword searches to find millions of pages competing for the very same terms.

Just like anything else to do with your Web Program your rankings have to be worked at — consistently — to produce results.

The Ten Commandments of Search Engines:

  1. Thou shalt not expect that Search Engines will drive massive amounts of traffic to your site based on initial or minimal efforts. Listings take time to solidify over time. And, as you grow your site for better placement you can expect a certain level of latency in any changes your tweaks may ultimately reflect. No tweaking? No updating? Not growing your site? No relevant rankings.
  2. Thou shalt not expect that Search Engines care about where you are ranked, where you want to be ranked or where you think you should be ranked. Their goal is to try to rank sites based on many variables to produce SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) that best meet what searchers are looking for. (So they say.) Look at it this way… What makes your site better than those already ranked to nudge them out of the top positions? Nothing? Get to work!
  3. Thou shall understand that if you don’t track your site activity and review analytics combined with keeping your site “fresh”, growing with content and current with technology, those competitors that do will be ranked before you. Don’t grow, track and react, your site will never gain in positioning.
  4. Thou shall know there are no “top of page” listings for $$$ per month. Those are “Sponsored”, “Paid” or “Featured Listings” ads that the Search Engines or PPC (Pay Per Click) services offer. These listings are purchased and have nothing to do with your site’s organic/free listings or the “keywords” in your meta tags.
  5. Thou shall realize that you need to play by the rules. There are no silver bullets or magic pills when it comes to your site’s rankings. Some use tactics that simply do not work or may temporarily work and when detected could get your site demoted. This is called “Black Hat” SEO. If an “expert” advises anything different than noted here, run.
  6. Thou shalt not sit back and think that without participating, networking and taking advantage of on and off-line opportunities to get exposure for your “dot com” that you will get traffic anyway. You won’t. Look again at the figures I mentioned above. This is interactive technology after all — don’t interact, don’t be involved, don’t expect rankings or traffic.
  7. Thou shall understand that this is not a “build it and they will come” telephone book environment. With literally billions of Web pages online and millions going live daily, how do you realistically think your potential customers will find you without ongoing reactive and proactive efforts? They won’t.
  8. Thou shalt not believe that by copycatting perceived competitors that is your path to better rankings. Google personalizes all searches — what you see when looking for your site may not be what other searchers see. And if your “competitors” are doing things that Google frowns upon those rankings will dissolve. Maybe not today but it will happen. You don’t want to be in the position of modifying your site to try to mimic success. Make your site about what works for your customers and site visitors and over time you’ll find your rankings improve instead of worrying about when the other shoe will drop.
  9. Thou shall understand that only unwavering commitment, participation and ongoing investment (in time and $$), is the only way to gaining and maintaining relevant rankings. You also need to plan on consistently growing your site with content rich targeted information that is of interest to your site visitors or you risk not attaining any relevant exposure.
  10. Thou knows that even though they may not like the Ten Commandments of Search Engines, that in no way diminishes the reality of fact and truth in how Search Engines work and what you need to do as a site owner to ensure consistent relevant rankings over your competitors.

Many think rankings should just happen. Or that by changing this or that, adding keywords or some phrases here or there, buying this program or subscribing to that software that all your target customers will be able to find you. There is nothing further from the truth!

What Should I Do Right Now?

  • Look at your stats! Review what is happening so you know what to build upon. Use Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool to determine what folks are searching for within your market and then jump to provide that information.
  • Create informative articles, resources and “how tos” and add them to your site on a regular basis. Start your Blog and Blog at least once a week to keep the new, fresh and valuable information that your market desires coming!
  • Don’t waste your time chasing algos — instead spend your time writing about your experience, expertise and share your knowledge by continually adding and growing your site. Talk to your customers, address their concerns and answer their most asked questions on your site.
  • If your site is not on WordPress — no time like the present! Accomplishing everything mentioned here is much easier and you’ll have tons of plugins and premium themes to choose from to make your site stand out!

Follow this approach and the rankings will grow. Have no approach? Still have just static unchanging brochureware Website because that is all you are willing to deal with? Then you really cannot expect to rank well, right? What if your competitors are more involved and aggressive than you are?

“Wanting”, “feeling”, “thinking” doesn’t cut it! Doing, planning, reviewing and taking action in an environment that is fluid and constantly changing is what works!

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent, but those most adaptive to change.”
~ Charles Darwin

Don’t blame the Web, don’t blame the Search Engines, don’t blame the fact that to reach your goals one has to spend more time and/or money – try and learn new things – all the time. That’s what this gig is all about – learning, changing, doing – rolling with the proverbial punches! Certainly, don’t believe friends and associates who claim unbelievable results without the efforts mentioned here – impossible!

At your service,
Judith

Trust is Gold Online; So is Going Social

Partners You Can TrustTrust is not something you can launch with a Website. Well, you can — by having a credible, great looking site that has the visuals and content that instill a perception that lends to trust — but that’s not enough. Just as in the off-line world, trust is built with consistency — over time.

You can’t “buy” trust; you have to earn it.

Search algorithms have trust factors. For example, Google determines trustworthiness of a site by the number and quality of sites that link to a particular site. Although this isn’t the end all be all, Google uses this as just one of many ways to try and determine trust.

Why trust? Because of the reasons stated above… You can’t buy it; you can’t install it. You have to earn it over time. This is also why brands and those that have been online longer tend to naturally be trusted more.

Same goes for Social Media and Networking. From being involved on trusted sites and participating and responding on the networks you know your target market frequents, you can tap into the potential to build that ambiguous trust factor. This means being trusted by site visitors that then don’t hesitate to offer positive reviews on your site and local sites as well as mentions and recommendations on social media.

Trust is Gold Online

Build trust and you build your reputation, exposure, business and network.

Here is a great article from Jeff Quipp that covers the trust issue in Social Networking. Even though it is dated 2008 — the advice is timeless! 4 Pillars of Social Media Algorithms … Trust x4

Now you have a good idea of why you need a Social Media plan and where to start implementing it. I’ve been doing this from the start — going on 20 years now and I have to tell you that right now is one of the most exciting periods in the Webolution. If you have an static Website — you are simply glorified brochureware. You need interactivity components where you can reach out to visitors and they can do the same to you — and I’m not talking a contact form.

WordPress Makes Social “Easy”

There are too many social sites and WordPress sharing plugins to list here. But I do have a couple posts that can help you get your functionality and plan in place:

The possibilities and opportunities are endless due to all the ways you can share information and interact with your current and potential customers! Time to get Social!

At your service,
Judith

4 Truths About Free Search Engine Rankings

4 Truths of Search Engine RankingsThis December I will enter my 20th year as an online consultant. And still on a daily basis I am faced with explaining the truth about free (what is now called “organic”) search engine rankings.

Especially after the launch of a new WordPress Website, one of the primary follow-up issues is the client wanting to know when they will be in the “top 10.”

Every time this conversation takes place, the other side is clearly in shock and awe over the reality of what is required, the time and effort needed and the challenge to be embraced.

You’ve heard that phrase “there’s no such thing as a free lunch?” Boy, does that apply to search rankings! Yes, the “free” listings don’t cost you anything like PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising does. But don’t kid yourself, there will be costs if you are serious about being ranked on the top page ahead of the tens of thousands, hundred of thousands or even millions of other sites fighting for the same spots.

Reality vs. Hype…

Before we continue; keep the following in mind. Now that there is even less available real estate “above the fold” for organic rankings due to even more ad blocks than ever — being in the top 2 is pretty much what you need to attain if you want to be seen without scrolling.

Add to that thought, if hundreds of thousands of sites all want to pull on the top page for the very same terms you do, you have to do what is necessary to be perceived as the cream of the crop — the top two! That’s a tough hill to climb.

This doesn’t happen by osmosis or just because you think your site is all that. Each site in your market probably desires those positions as much as you do — but desire aside, what makes the difference?

Choices and Action!

There are many great resources online that guide site owners on the reality of what is required to succeed — here is the list I rely on.  

Unfortunately, many ignore this reality to assume that they can tweak this, or do that, throw some keywords here or there, not spend any time or money and the rankings will happen just because they want them to. That won’t happen.

Free rankings on the top page, top 10, top 5, top 2 are very difficult to attain — if ever. Yes — if ever. You have to take a serious look at the your market and consider “what makes my site so much better than the multitude of competitors already in those slots, for my target phrase, that I warrant being above all the rest?”

If you do not have a rock-solid realistic answer to that question, you probably do not yet know what to do to produce that result.

Top rankings cannot be demanded — they have to be earned! To think that you can state, “I want to be top 2 —  make it so” without realizing that as a site owner there are things you have to do and consider, consistently and for the long haul, is wishful thinking at best.

Each search site, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing all have their own proprietary algorithm that take hundreds factors into consideration when determining how to rank a site.  Albeit none are perfect, these algorithms are constantly evolving and changing all to offer the searcher (so they say) the most relevant results based on a the search criteria used.

That’s your mission; to be the most relevant quality site for the terms you want to rank for.

4 Tips Truths

Remember Websites and search engines are just computers talking to computers. The algorithms rely on the content of your site and the ability to detect your credibility and link status throughout the network from other quality “authority” sites. Even still, as complicated as these algorithms are — your best chance to attain rankings over the long-haul is pretty black and white if you keep these 4 tips truths in mind to start:

  1. ADD VALUABLE CONTENT: You must continually grow your site with relevant useful information of value to your site visitors that also is worth linking to. Search engines know that anyone can exchange links — that doesn’t indicate quality or value. You want to attain one-way links into your site (by crafting link worthy content) — that is a vote of confidence that you have a good site and information. Structuring your posts popularly matters too — read this. Blogging, articles and a prudent use of social media tools can help you accomplish this task.
  2. LESS IS MORE: You simply cannot cover all your keyword phrases on your top page or on any one page within your site (or in some cases with one site) for that matter and expect to pull on the top page. The keyword stuffing days are over. The more you are about; the less you are about any one thing. Search engines will rank the most relevant site/page/article related to the term searched for. You need to have detailed concentrated pages about individual topics to accomplish this. Work towards having ûber-niche articles that use your established collection of target phrases.
  3. LONGEVITY: Sites that have been online longer and updated more often will rank higher than those just launched or rarely updated. Not because of age alone, but because the longer a site is around, if managed properly, they tend to have more info, articles, followers, links. So use the test of time to build and grow your site to use this interactive technology for all it’s worth!
  4. DEPENDENCE: You don’t want to depend on organic search rankings as your sole venue for new visitor acquisition. Search Engines should be part of your plan but not more than content, features and social networking efforts. You don’t want all your eggs in the search engine basket.

You can’t “buy” your way into the top positions in the free/organic SERPs. Unless you integrate the above efforts and have a long-term plan, you will most likely never enjoy top rankings.

So what is a Website owner to do? Work hard at continually making your site the best it can be within its competitive market for your target customer.  If you take away anything from this article it is those last 4 words.

Add articles, white papers, a Blog, directory, forums. Cater to your customers by determining what they want and give it to them! Strive to be the one-stop-shop for your target market and take the time to get out there and network and participate!

By having this approach, and doing your best to accommodate your market, you not only make your site visitors happy but you give the search engines what they look at to rank you accordingly.

And, even if you don’t attain those top 2, or even top page rankings — because in some cases that may simply be impossible, you’ll have something much more valuable — dedicated and loyal customers who will talk you up! Priceless.

At your service,
Judith

Whoo-Hoo! SEO *is* Dead!

Whoo-hoo!  SEO *is* Dead!Having been online from the start building successful Websites for almost 2 decades, the biggest PIA of the whole experience has been SEO. Many site owners resisted embracing the hard work of marketing their sites — they had the “build it and they will come” mentality.

Back in the day, Search Engine Optimization was something those of us who created plain ole HTML sites naturally considered when developing a Website. We worked with clients to ensure they did market research before launching a site to know what that market was looking for and to include that in the basics (Title, Headlines, Text, Links) during development. A clean-coded, visually appealing site did very well. That was several billion sites ago…

Now SEO is “Get me #1 on Google!”.

Google has squashed tons of small business sites (all in a stated attempt to suppress spam) with recent animal algos reflecting no concern for collateral damage. [Read: Does Google Need an Intervention?] Google claims these changes were to make SERPS more relevant. That didn’t happen either. [Read: How Google Gave Me Herpes.]

We have spammers and get-rich-quickers to blame for this. The more sites, the more junk and less integrity. Both on sites and from the development community many of whom were over confident in their skills and experience. Remember when almost everyone was a “Web Designer”? Anything to make a quick buck…

Many of the affected sites weren’t doing anything wrong other than to do what they thought “SEO” was or they trusted the wrong folks. While I do understand neither is an excuse and that some deserved to go to page 50; others did not. Some are still fighting for rankings, many just threw in the towel.

I don’t know about you, but I get a bad taste in my mouth for companies or institutions that can wield this much power over small independent businesses just doing their best to be the best. Especially companies and institutions that refuse to admit or address undeserved negative damage.

I’ve personally experienced those in the “SEO crowd” who condescendingly claim those site owners “got what they deserved” (because they weren’t smart enough to hire these snots of course). Truth be told most small businesses just don’t have the budget for this level of “expertise”. There are examples of many sites that lost rankings that are great looking sites, that their customers loved, that didn’t spam/buy links/post crap — but too bad for them Google didn’t feel the same. “So deal with it!”

So what are site owners to do? Don’t depend on Google. Break the habit! Work your butt off marketing your site and business to those who care. Surprise your customers with service that they don’t get elsewhere. Make your site about you, about your story, what you stand for (and what you don’t stand for). That’s what will separate you from all the noise, get folks talking about you and make you not have to rely on companies like Google.

SEO is dead because it never was what so many were trying to sell to increase their bank accounts. There are no tricks; there is no golden ticket. It always has been about creating the best site you can for your customers and then rabidly relentlessly marketing it — period. That has never changed — just how it was sold was.

One of the reasons I’ve followed Copyblogger for years is they get that too. The infographic below and the accompanying article is what folks like me have been saying from the start….

SEO is Dead - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

So, I’m glad to see that SEO is dead and that everyone can now move on — now go get your marketing plan put together!

At your service,
Judith

Crafting Link Worthy Content

Crafting Link Worthy ContentOne of the most asked questions sent my way is for me to explain in a “simple and clear” way what you need to do to get those coveted backlinks that certain search engines look at to determine rankings.

Here you go — simple and clear: 
Craft Link Worthy Content!

craft, craft·ing

1. To make by hand.
2. To make or construct (something) in a manner suggesting great care or ingenuity.

It’s is that simple.  Now, creating that link worthy content may not be that simple because to be link worthy means:

  • You are providing needed information that many are looking for and seeking out.
  • Your have a different spin or point of view that makes your article/page/post unique.
  • Your content is well written, credible and informative — in other words it has substance.

And, anything of true quality takes time, effort and skill to create. No wham-bam-thank-you-mams here! Sorry, if you claim you want rankings, more exposure, more inquiries, you’ve got to have content that rocks.

Don’t want to do that? Then never ever say “but I’m not being found on search engines”. Because you know what, even creating great content is not the end-all-be-all — but it is the best way to build a foundation for good things to happen over time.

Too many create pages that are filled with sales-pitchy blah-blah-blah. Boring stuff that folks won’t read.  Not link worthy. 

Others write articles that are shallow in purpose and do not teach or guide readers on anything of benefit.  Here again, not link worthy.

Then there are those who post other author’s articles on their site — not unique enough to link to because they are probably on other sites as well. Plus the “big g” (small caps intentional) recently announced guest posting doesn’t work any longer for either side.

Truly link worthy content is not cookie-cutter content. That is exactly why one-way inbound links indicate to search engines that the content that is being linked to has value.  Try to manipulate that and you will get whacked. Link worthy content is not something you can easily dish out — that is why certain Blogs (not every Blog) are so popular. 

Blog posts can be great link worthy fodder because you are expected to add your unique perspective, opinion, attitude and personality while offering the info your target market finds interesting.  You do know what your site visitors find interesting, right? If not look at your inquiries, server logs, market data and stats and get to know your target market intimately.

Then write posts that make their life easier, answer their most asked questions, or that educates them on topics they thought they knew but, thanks to you, found they still had more to learn.

Once your content is buffed and shined, share it on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (at least). Then share it again. Yep, having a Website that gets found means you need to be a social butterfly. And not just auto-posting — you need to actually be social!

so·cial
adjective \ˈsō-shəl\

…relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other.

Now you know what to do, where to start — start crafting your link worthy content! You’ll get more inbound links, improve rankings, you’ll build trust and grow your market over time. No way around this folks, so what are you waiting for — Chop-Chop!

At your service,
Judith

Do Your Landing Pages Suck?

dPress and Landing PagesMany don’t want to make the effort to find out …

Have you ever clicked on a PPC ad to only “land” at a page that either doesn’t have what you looking for, is poorly developed and/or simply doesn’t have a clue as to how to build confidence and cater to what you, as the searcher, “landed” there for? You are not alone. This happens quite often to me…

Frustrated site owners contact me claiming they are tired of throwing away money on PPC campaigns with little to no conversions. A quick glance usually reflects not having the basics covered on the designated landing page. The most common mistakes is having all ads land on the top page of the site in lieu of pointing to a product specific or specially created landing page.

To make sure your site and landing pages are optimized as best they can be to encourage leads, contacts, conversions and orders:

  1. I use Premise (Read my article: WordPress Landing Pages Made Easy) a high-powered premium plug-in for WordPress that is basically a bundle of software and education that lets you quickly and effectively create landing pages with WordPress as easy as 1, 2, 3.
  2. Google Analytics Content Experiments: What if you could find the content and images that entice visitors to stay and become customers? You can, by testing variations of your Website pages.
  3. The Official Google Web site Optimizer YouTube Channel: Google Website Optimizer videos can help you increase your Website’s conversion rate. By testing different types of content you can design your Web site to convert more visitors into customers.

Did you notice that the word “testing” is used above? That’s because not one person on this planet can tell you emphatically what will work for your site and with your market without testing! Don’t test and experiment and you’ll never really know what works because part of testing is tracking results so you can make that determination. How you figure out that magic combo that gets your customers to buy is determined by experimenting and testing, then some more experimenting and testing!

There are also some tried and true staples you must have in place such as:

  • A quality presentation that lends to the perception of credibility and legitimacy.
  • Product/service descriptions that include the details and information consumers need to make an informed decision. In other words, don’t hide the most crucial information in hopes of a potential customer filling out a form to ask for the most basic of info — they won’t. They’ll just find a site that does provide the details they seek with the least amount of effort and give their business to your competitors.
  • Images and graphics that are consistent in size and quality to ensure customers can see exactly what they are paying for and that instill the perception of quality in your offerings.
  • Content that is easy to read, clear in its purpose and sounds like someone with an education wrote it. No typos, mistakes in grammar or generic verbiage will do.
  • Customer service contacts, policies, terms, conditions, shipping costs, time-frames — all that goes with doing business online has to be front and center. Think about the questions you have when you make an online purchase and make sure you cover that on your site — and then some.

While the above are just the basics, when these issues are considered and included while testing and experimenting the various ways to present your products/services, is the best way to experience tangible results.

Yes, it does take a lot of work and consistency in testing, but your bottom line will love you for it!

At your service,
Judith

So What About Google+? Here’s What!

What About Google+?To most of my clients Google+ is just another “social time drain” that they don’t need to concentrate on. For the most part it is the techies who’ve swarmed there because we are naturally first adopters. While I did setup my account, I too have found G+ to be more of an afterthought.

From what I’ve read, the jury is still out about if G+ will be a force in social. While I am not a big Google fan in general, I do know many of the recognizable folks in WordPress are very active there, so there must be something to it.

For me, as with most social media, Google+ is a challenge to remember to check in on. I have a hard enough time keeping my customer service levels where I want them to be without having to stop and take time to post and comment. Not that I don’t think it to be a good thing, I just do not truly know if it is worth my time since I have so very little to spare. What makes me even more of a techie odd-ball is that when I walk out of my office, I’m done with online! So no after-hours social catchup for me.

In my daily travels I tripped upon the infographic below that clearly explained what G+ is, does and has available for your marketing efforts. It is clear, concise and I hope you find it as interesting and motivating as I did:

How to Use Google+

Armed with the above info I can try to tackle G+ in bite-sized chunks. Click on the Infographic to download a copy of your own.

I’ve actually added G+ to my rolling “to do” list! ;-) How about you? Are you on G+? What benefits have you seen for your business?

At your service,
Judith

Is there a “War” on Free Clicks?

Based on the latest Google algo changes and controversial effects, combined with the new layout of Google’s SERPs which are more paid advertising above the fold than not — one could answer this question with a resounding “YES!”. The infographic below shows how pay-per-click-ads are taking over Google and why that is a good thing for marketers.

Regardless of if there is an actual war or not or whether we like, love or love to hate Google — ads work. While this infographic (from WordStream who offers AdWords and PPC Tools) can be a bit overwhelming it is filled with a ton of great information including that it appears ads are getting more clicks than organic rankings!

Take a peak and let me know what you think… Are you PPCing? Did you do so because of the latest algo changes and how is that working out for you?

At your service,
Judith

Google Ads and the War on Free Clicks.
© 2012 WordStream

Does Google Need an Intervention?

Google InterventionFrom a search marketing POV, Google has many scratching their heads. Google isn’t consistent, has become unstable and unpredictable. Want to see for yourself? Use SerpFox and watch your rankings for a week or so… It’s crazy!

Heck, we aren’t looking for 100% predictability, but when search results don’t seem to make sense or are all over the board from one day to the next for no logical reason combined with the fact that other sites like Bing and Yahoo! seem to be able to offer relevant results (and consistent between the two), that indicates a problem.

Different results in of themselves are not the problem. Nor do I think search engines should all offer the same results. They should all be different; but relevant. Google is now different — but the relevancy part — well, not so much. That’s where Google no longer seems to excel.

When you get old pages that are covered in an inch of dust over more relevant up to date, current sites — we aren’t offering the best results possible now are we? Or if sites are on the top by virtue of incoming links alone (which the Penguin update supposedly targeted while also whacking sites that didn’t intentionally manipulate incoming links) then explain to us how we can make our sites “the best they can be” for you Google? Bing and Yahoo seem to be able to do this.

There are serious algo problems here that simply do not allow those who play by the rules, have great sites that they update, get social authority on and grow to be able to expect some sort of relevant consistent positioning. Maybe Google should remove the Google Search button and just leave up the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button?

Some sites were whacked simply because they honestly thought they were doing their best to do what Google wanted within their Webmaster Guidelines. Contrary to what some may think, most Mom and Pop shops do not have the funds to hire fancy-schmancy SEO experts to walk that fine line for them.

On some sites that were not black hat, nefarious in intent and just working to build a great site it is clear the punishment doled out by Panda and Penguin did not fit the crime. If you follow SEO you can find stories of this kind are numerous and sundry.

Google has branding. Google is THE search engine most name drop and run to for searches. But the fact is that Google hasn’t been the Google those of us who have been online from the start fell in love with for a long time.

As of late the results I receive on personal searches are pathetic. Really? Are these the best sites based on my search criteria? Nope. You’ll find those generally now on page two…

In most cases an intervention requires cooperation from the entity with the problem to face up to those issues, resolve them and commit to addressing them for the long haul. Google has never given any indication in this direction — Google, like anyone in need of an intervention, is in denial.

Matt Cutts is the “go to” guy at Google that many rely on to get guidance and updates about what Google is now up to. The video below is a “humorous” mash-up of bunches of Matt Cutts videos. It epitomizes the growing feeling that Google is becoming a joke…

If Google is not in denial, they would explain to legitimate businesses who have been replaced by outdated crummy sites in the SERPS why that is the case. But they are not — the same generic dribble “make your site the best it can be” is just that — dribble. If Google wasn’t in denial they would work their algo to remedy some of the unintended collateral damage. But they don’t…

I would like to hope an intervention would work, but this has been going on for years. Speaking for myself, it is time for a divorce. Not only from Google but from the myriad of “experts” out there unwilling to even discuss what is going on beyond blaming the site owner as the sole responsible culprit.

At your service,
Judith