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Google’s Secret Ranking System - Harder for You, More Profits for Them

By Hector Cisneros
Courtesy of Flickr

Anyone that advertises on the internet today is aware that Google has changed it's search ranking algorithms several times this year. In April many website owners found that they had suddenly lost their page one ranking. Many fell off the first four pages altogether. Google’s Penguin and Panda updates altered search so that you could no longer get page one position with black hat techniques alone. Google announced that they were doing this because they want page listing to be decided based on the value provided by the page’s content, not by gaming the system with technical tricks. Google wants a true popularity contest based on good content.

Their new algorithms make it much harder to use black hat tricks to get on page one. Keyword relevance, content relevance plus timely and consistency are now king. Positive feedback and social media usage now denote "more meaningful value." What this all means to the average business owner is that it’s much harder to get on page one than ever before.

Flash Back Several Years to the Turn of the Century

Flash Back
Flash Back (Photo credit: JD Hancock)
When Yahoo was king of search, getting on page one was an injection process. You could literally get on page one quickly by feeding the search engines what they looked for. This led to widespread use of black hat tricks and techniques to dominate page one rankings. Google and all the other search engine have been gradually changing their ranking methods making it harder and harder to trick your way onto page one.

Flash forward to today and Google is the dominant player in the search market with 80+ percent of all searches taking place on its search engine. Because of this control you now have to play by Google’s rules. Since they control 80 percent of search, it’s their way or the highway.
Google’s new algorithms emphasize a multimedia approach for getting on page one. Google likes exact keyword matches.  Google likes blogging.  Google likes positive reviews.  Google likes positive social media posts and social media buzz, but most of all ... Google likes Google! 

Google Likes its Own Properties -- a Lot!

Given the above, Google likes Google+, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, Google Maps, Google Local, +Ones and anything else Google that is Google-owned, Google-derived, and Google-acquired. This is not to say that other non-Google internet properties are unimportant, on the contrary. Google has many agreements with other advertising mediums including online magazines, competing search engines and various banner/display ad networks. Needless to say Google, has a direct say on how you rank. Whether you like it or not, Google says you have to do a lot more work today to be ranked higher than in the past.

Why Google Keeps Changing its Search Ranking Algorithms

Google Analytics v2.0
Google Analytics v2.0 (Photo credit: vrypan)
I thought about this a lot and it dawned on me that making it hard to get a Page One ranking actually helps Google make more money. If it’s harder to get on Page One of Google search organically, then desperate businesses will try the next best thing, Google AdWords. In other word Google has made pay-per-click more palatable because for many businesses it’s the only avenue left. It is common knowledge that more people will click on the top three organic search listings than the top pay-per-click listings. In fact 70% of all clicks fall on the top three organic search listings. Only 20 to 25% of clicks fall on paid ads as a rule. This also means that the other 5 to 10 percent falls on a page one organic link.

Why is organic positioning so important? It is because people trust these links more than any other links. It’s also the first organic links they see and it’s because these organic links are chosen more than ¾ of the time! And guess what, Google say’s they are important by virtue of their ranking! So by making it much harder to obtain this position Google has forced businesses that want to be seen on page one to switch to pay per click.

Organic or Pay Per Click, Which Should I Choose?

When a business is faced with the amount of work (and cost) it takes to get on page one, most savvy business owners will do the next best thing. They will choose to participate in Pay Per Click (PPC). For many, PPC will be a reasonable alternative. However, it will never be as good as any of the top three Page One organic positions. PPC has a lower trust factor. PPC is vulnerable to competitor clicking and tire kicker clicks. Your per click price is based on an auction that goes up and down so you have no fixed control cost. 

English: licence google adwords Français : lic...
licence google adwords  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In very competitive situations it’s not uncommon for per click prices to escalate to levels that are no longer cost effective. However, for those smart business people who are willing to hire Pay Per Click experts, the cost can actually be lower, even when you factor in the added management fees. How can this be you ask? A savvy PPC manager can pay for themselves by improving the ROI. If they do a good job managing the cost per clicks, by closely monitoring prices, times/days of searches, search regions and key word factors, they can often garner higher quality clicks and save money at the same time. The most important point here is this. Look at the overall ROI not the cost per click (as most people do).

Any Business Can Improve its Ranking

So is PPC your only alternative? Absolutely not! Another way to improve your ranking is to use a team approach to create and distribute content. This will fulfill the appetite of the 800 lb. Gorilla we call Google. If a business writes and post blogs on a consistent basis, produces short interesting/educational videos on YouTube, provides useful, entertaining or engaging social media on a regular basis it can achieve a high organic ranking. I know what you’re thinking. This takes too much time, effort and money to get done. This is true if you try to do it by yourself! 

Team Tech to the Rescue!

Tech Team Retreat 2000
Tech Team Retreat 2000 (Photo credit: Susan Sharpless Smith)
However, the answer is false if you have a team to work with.  A team of just five businesses working together can increase your internet presence by 500%! My company started experimenting with a team marketing approach about six months ago and guess what, it works. In essence what we did was create a peer group that actually provides social media and blog support for every post made by any of the team members. We found that we have to coach the members of this group on a regular basis and hold everyone on the team accountable to make sure the teamwork gets done. Having said that, team tech just works! We have been able to help businesses reach page one positions with their blogs, videos and even their landing pages in as little as three months. We call this concept Team Tech. The members pay a small fee to be coached and managed on a weekly basis. Do you still believe that this would take too much time? Our answer to this statement is, then just hire a team of professionals. Many competent agencies’ can provide this service. Our agency even offers Team Tech as an a la carte or bundled services, allowing a business pick the services they need.

It is our belief that small to medium size companies can compete with larger companies if they utilized and consistently deployed the Team Tech concept. When a large company hires a large ad agency to handle their marketing, the large agency uses a team to make sure every medium gets touched every day of the week. This is how large companies get top page ranking. In many cases, they also couple this effort with pay-per-click which really allows them to dominate a large portion of the search page. Imagine having your PPC ad show up at the top of the AdWords area and also have two organic links being listed above the fold in the organic search section. Now that’s powerful!

Don’t Leave out the Secret Ingredients!

It is also very important that your landing page or website is ready to receive the visitors you worked so hard to entice.  Your web page has to be the answer to the keyword question they asked when they entered their search. If your site is cluttered with too much information, or your banner takes up most of the real estate above the fold, you will lose visitors. If it's not focused on the proper keywords or if for any reason your page makes the visitor feel uneasy, then your efforts and money were all but wasted. Your landing page needs to inspire trust and confidence. It needs to show a real phone number and address. It needs to show real testimonials. Testimonials need to be either customers expounding your virtues on video or at minimum, copies of actual letters recommending you. Last but not least, don’t forget to give them an offer. Give them a reason to call.
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The bottom line is: Small businesses have to engage in a multimedia approach to compete for page one position on a Google search today. They not only need to provide the right keywords on their web pages, they also have to maintain a large amount of off-site activity such as blogging, relevant videos, actively engaging in social networking and courting clients positive feedback. Doing anything less will not get you there. Using Pay Per Click is only a fallback position if you know what you’re doing. For small businesses, this means either ante-up a significant amount of cash each month for your marketing or get a team to help you get it done. If you’re interested in the Team Tech concept visit and see how it works. Either way it’s your choice.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to hearing yours.

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Hector Cisneros is the director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on, a writer, an entrepreneur for more than 30 years, a veteran of BNI for 19 years and was a BNI director for over five years. He is still an active BNI member and follows its philosophy of "Givers Gain." He is the owner of several businesses in Jacksonville, Florida. He actively coaches business owners in the fine art of online advertising, business networking and word-of-mouth marketing. He is president of Website Know How, Inc., a holding company for his business ventures that include: online advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, real estate holdings, non-profit training/support, book publishing, health and wellness product sales and adventure sports. Hector's new book, "60 Seconds to Success," teaches business owners how to get the most from word of mouth marketing by using great 60-second introductions. To learn more about Hector Cisneros, social media, online marketing or word-of-mouth marketing, visit the Networker's Apprentice workshop or his book's website:  

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