Web Wisdom: Competing in a Shifting Web Landscape
August 9, 2011 by Amy Munice, ALM Communications Filed under Marketing, Web Marketing
Every time you, your customers, your competitors’ customers or ANYONE goes to the search bar and looks for something and finds what they want, they are feeding a web crawler with crucial data. These web crawlers are hungry beasts, feasting on the ever-growing database of what searchers seek and how they find it. Every minute there is a new banquet table of worldwide and local data. And in theory at least, the well fed web crawler returns to searchers the information that they seek, in the priority pattern that works for them (personalized search algorithms ), wherever they are (localized search algorithms).
Competing and Winning in a Shifting Web Landscape: Part One
Take notice of this concept because the success of your online marketing efforts hinges first and foremost on knowing that the World Wide Web is an ever changing entity; one reason why it is a total waste of time reverse engineering Google algorithms or the algorithms of ANY search engine. It is impossible to do, or as Michael Marshall, the man whom the U.S. Patent Office hires to teach its patent officers about how search engines really work, says, “Trying to reverse engineer Google algorithms is equivalent to trying to reverse engineer the cake baking process.” Yet in one way or another, reverse engineering Google Algorithms is very much “the trade” of more SEO consultants than I dare to count. You see it in the static “to-do” lists they carry with alleged up-to-date rules on “phrase depth,” “inbound link text,” “keyword title counts,” etc.
Don’t get me wrong! There truly are both on-page and off-page factors that do affect how and where your various site pages show up when searchers make queries. But the factors that affect one page or one site are always UNIQUE, and are always changing because of the unique competitive landscape your pages “live” in: the World Wide Web, which is only constant in the way it changes.
My guesstimate is that there is a 50-50 chance that you read the above and think, “Oh, that explains why we didn’t get anywhere following that to-do list given to us by the SEO consultant.” But there is also a 50-50 chance that you read the above and think, “Hmmmm. Our SEO consultant did give us a to-do list and it did have positive effects and very good ones at that. How do you explain that?”
The “50-50” rule refers to the fact that on the web you are always graded on a curve. How good does your website optimization need to be? Your pages just need to be “better” than the competitors in your unique competitive landscape on the web. Half of the competitors (50 percent) in any unique competitive landscape are “above the curve” and half (50 percent) are “below the curve.”
Perhaps because half of the web pages in any competitive landscape on the web are on the bottom at any one time, it helps explain the attitudes of many company presidents or VPs of Marketing (and even the European Union!), who say, “Why bother! Google just stacks the deck! It’s rigged! It’s fixed to help their advertisers win!”
Good News! That’s just not so. Part 2 of this article will explain why.
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