‘Google Loves You’, ‘Santa’ & Other Myths

December 13, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Online Marketing

Hi there. I’d like to go over a few basics before we start. Some of this is sensitive info, so maybe scoot the kids out of the room to protect their child-like innocence. Ready? Grab a pen.

  1. Life isn’t fair. It doesn’t even pretend to be.
  2. Google doesn’t care about your Web site, your business or your plans.
  3. There is no Santa Claus.

Sorry, just wanted to clear the air.

The Wall Street Journal published a really amusing story this morning, reporting that Rivals Say Google Plays Favorite. The article shows Web sites like TripAdvisor, WebMD, CitySearch, Yelp and others getting just a bit whiny over Google displaying its vertical content above of links to competitor Web sites. According to the whiners, Google is taking away their traffic, and hurting the growth of their sites. They want Google to stop. While Google maintains it’s all about the best answers for users, rivals think Google should make it a bigger priority to send other Web sites traffic.

Personally, I totally agree. I also think SEO consulting companies should give us all their clients. Because that is also good business. And while we’re on the subject, I’ll take all those holiday presents you purchased this weekend. Let me know if you need an address.

As ludicrous as the WSJ article sounds, it’s not nearly the first time competitors have cried foul over Google’s size and influence. And, frankly, it’s time this conversation gets put to bed. It’s not the recession, people. It’s you.

In case there was some confusion, it doesn’t matter if you’re an SEO trying to get your site ranked, if you’re a newbie search engine like DuckDuckGo (I just like writing that) trying to compete or if you’re a business owner looking for traffic – Google doesn’t care about you. They don’t care about your site and they don’t owe you anything. Google is not a non-profit, a government agency, nor the Easter Bunny. Google is a business that makes money by serving users with the best information that they can then place ads on. That is their goal. You don’t even factor into the equation.

I think that’s an important thing for businesses to realize. Not because I want to make you all emo on a rainy Monday, but because if you accept it’s not Google’s job to give you traffic, maybe you’ll stop relying on them to do so. And you’ll create your own. You’ll start to seek out other ways to build your Web site and your brand. Because that’s what you should have been doing from the very start.  Stop using Google as a crutch. Or worse yet, your mommy.

Over at Shoemoney, I recently blogged about 5 lessons affiliates can learn from SEOs. My fourth tip advised sites to stop relying on Google for their traffic.

Here’s a snippet of what I wrote:

By going above Google’s head and connecting directly with our audience, it helps lessen our reliance on Google by creating alternative sources of traffic. As an affiliate marketer, you want to be doing the same for your own sites. Google’s sudden mood swings ranking changes become a lot less scary when you’re creating a defensible site. One that will continue to attract users, convert and engage whether or not it stays in Google’s good graces because it genuinely connects with its audience. Get involved in social, create your own relationships with those influential to your business, and always have your eyes open for new sources of traffic. That’s how you Google-proof your Web site and survive in today’s more competitive era.

You have to lesson your own reliance on Google by building defensible traffic for your Web site. It’s your job. No one else’s. How can you connect users outside of Google?  What avenues have you ignored solely because of search?  How can you use social media to get traffic from other sources?

Google is building defensible traffic by owning its market by simply being better. While I’m no Google loyalist, as a user, I really appreciate the advancements they’ve been making with local. What’s more relevant to me when I’m hungry and looking for pizza in Troy? Yelp or this:

It’s that search results page (DeFazio’s has the best pizza in Troy, NY, BTW).  And it’s only that search results page until someone at Google green lights Place Search and adds that to the mix. It’s not an affront to Yelp or CitySearch, neither is it an example of how Google is stealing your content and hijacking your traffic. It’s simply Google attracting users by giving them what they want. We should all be so sneaky.

You can either learn how to make your business more Google-friendly so Google wants to show your site or you can look for other sources of traffic. What you can’t do is expect them to change their business model because it’s inconvenient for you. We all have to grow up sometimes, kids. Sorry, Virginia.

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