After analyzing one day of aggregate global searches, Google can discern the broke from rich, geek from queen and exactly which direction our economy is heading. Unfortunately, it also has the power to whack every business from its search results with several swift mouse clicks. If you’ve managed to recently launch your sidewalk hotdog stand online, let us formally welcome you to Google’s algorithm as the layman may see it.
Developed in 1997, it was Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s goal to simplify life by allowing one rectangular box (and one’s wild imagination) to render commonly requested items such as weather reports, phone numbers to local barber shops and directions to Kathmandu. What Google Search has become today, however, falls nothing short of the Sword of Damocles to businesses that seek to unjustly jump competition to rank higher in keyword searches. Imagine taking the Dewey Decimal System and shoving denizens of hungry businessmen inside the long wooden box that holds frail white cards directing you to a gigantic shelf – yeah, a lot to ingest, but that’s what today’s digital marketing revolution looks like inside millions of miles of hardwire and city blocks full of servers.
See, the rigmarole actually began when PageRank was rolled out. Without getting too semantically involved with it’s definition, PageRank simply takes websites and appends numerical grading to various aspects of content, linking, relevance and traffic. Higher scores reflect greater planning, and effectively give websites the keys to the city in terms of search position. Lower ranks mean either your website is new, lacks a healthy combination of underlying factors that Google looks for, or is designed with duplicity in mind. Over time, PageRank’s effectiveness began to dissipate, making room for algorithm updates and newer ways to simply eradicate link spam and crappy websites altogether. I had previously covered how surviving the algorithm takes time, patience and sleight of hand. Study it.
Today, many claim Google’s algorithm has spun out of control. Sure, millions have grown to appreciate searching for tuna and not finding porn sites on page one, yet it appears honest businesses are being victimized by Wikipedia’s guaranteed position one or two search result, Ripoff Report’s ‘questionable’ ranking power and the fact they simply don’t have $2.50 to spend on one errant click. Not that Yahoo’s flagship search engine is much better; even with Bing’s partnership in delivering search results, they’re still together accountable for only 35% of the internet’s search market share as a whole. Advantage: Google.
Understand one thing about anything created for mass markets: products and services are meant to affect the whole, not just smaller sects or parts. Google created their algorithm so little Johnny can find his favorite online movie while mommy searches for canasta partners – whether or not you’re business is relevant enough to be found first is not Google’s problem, so don’t hate the algorithm…
…instead, hate your marketing plan.