Does Google Rank 1st for the Keyword “Hypocrisy”?
Recently, Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz pointed out something that all of us in the SEO business know all too well.
The land of SEO is fraught with many perils, but first and foremost among them is Google’s monopoly on information. While they claim to be transparent, Google is actually hiding useful information for no other reason than control. Web businesses like ours used to be able to see what folks were searching for when they landed on our site (e.g. “Marketing software to make life easier”). This helped us in a million ways; namely it helped us understand what our customers want. Search terms are in many ways our best proxy for customer desires.
But now we see that John Doe came to our site because he searched for “not provided”. At first I thought this was some sort of privacy play, a way for Google to pretend to be sensitive to its customers’ privacy (nevermind those ads in your email). But then I was informed that they have no problem at all sharing this information, for a price —you can only have access to this information if you sell their ads. Just like any other resource-constrained company (I’m looking at you, almost everyone), we can’t afford to set aside building more helpful, valuable tools that B2B marketers want in order to build yet another place for people to buy Google adwords.
The internet is a beautiful place because it is open. A free flow of information. Improvements are made because we can easily learn what people want—whether it’s through comments/complaints/usage statistics/etc/etc. Businesses like ours (and yours probably) need to know what our customers want, how they are finding us, how we can serve them better. Wait, why am I making this point anew when I can simply quote them on their own page –
“Transparency is a core value at Google. As a company we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that we maximize transparency around the flow of information related to our tools and services. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual.”
Hmm, I could swear I didn’t see “restrict” or “horde” or “block” anywhere in there… :)
Seeing it coming
At Optify, we already knew that the world of SEO was quickly becoming too fragile. Businesses can’t afford to bet their entire marketing budget only on hoping to be at the top of Google’s page. You need to create informative, interesting, and relevant content. You need to amplify your messages through social networks. You need to build a relationship with potential customers. You need to nurture your prospects and customers with relevant emails. There’s a whole plethora of online activities to enable marketers to connect with prospects. And of course to be successful you need to experiment, measure, and optimize. And let’s not forget the entire world of marketing offline—tradeshows, conferences, plain old conversations.
So when we figured this out so many moons ago, we started building an application for the professional marketer who wears a lot of hats—one day she’s optimizing her pages for SEO, the next day she’s building a form, the day after that she’s sending out a newsletter and a promotion, and the next day she’s running reports for her boss. It’s a real shame that more and more Google is making sure that she can’t do her job as effectively as she used to. We promise that we’ll continue to try to truly make her life easier.