Google has been the leader in generating the most relevant search results for users for many years. The primary motivation for the company was to deliver users a desired result on the first search, as immediate success was likely to promote users to return.
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In the beginning, the criteria for ranking was basic, with Google favouring sites that were linked to the most. However over the years, Google has put out of a series of large updates to the algorithm that enrich the search engine results page by:
- Better identifying quality links from spammy links pointing to sites
- Paying attention to the freshness of content
- Evaluating the quality of content
- Catching attempts of marketers to manipulate the search engine
- Rewarding sites that truly set out to improve the user experience
- Favouring sites that were useful by being resource rich (thought leaders)
Among other factors that generate useful results for the user.
Essentially, Google has become better at rewarding those that are truly great custodians of their online landscape.
Google’s earned section has been called ‘organic’ because it’s supposed to happen naturally and for the right reasons.
However, Google used to be a place where sites ranked for the wrong reasons.
Essentially, Google didn’t understand the difference between green grass that had been spray painted green versus grass that was green because it was healthy. That is to say, Google didn’t know the difference between sites that were actually useful for users from ones that were not.
When Google was ineffective at catching manipulators (the ones who sprayed the grass green), it meant that ranking was easy. It wasn’t laborious. It meant anyone with a bottle of green spray paint was just as effective as, or better than, the gardener that cultivated the lawn naturally.
That’s why ranking was able to be cheap and quick. We’ve all seen the $99/month SEO special that has graced our inbox. Well, not so long ago if you wanted to rank, that price point and that service worked.
But today that same $99/month won’t work because backlinking from everywhere and anywhere is not only not rewarding, but rather detrimental. Google’s changes mean that past practices aren’t sustainable services because any short term gains will be slapped down by Google’s algorithms or spam team.
This means that linking has to be done thoughtfully and sites have to excel in terms of content, utility, usability, and structure.
The new best practices leading to ranking on Google mean that your SEO company has to do more than it ever did before, costing more in both time and money. Yes, Google’s changes have resulted in higher prices for SEO as the process is no longer simple nor exclusively technical. It’s more human, more strategic, more thoughtful, and it’s something the $99/month companies just can’t do.
Yes, $99 is still enough to spray paint the grass green, but now that Google knows about the spray paint and how to detect it, true marketing requires that the grass is grown properly and the fertilizer, seeds, water, TLC and whatever else that’s needed today requires a good gardener (marketer), and more money.
If not for Google’s changes, SEO would have become a race to the lowest price. SEO wouldn’t be thoughtful, and websites in general could lack in quality without much repercussion, aside from low conversion.
Google’s changes has ensured the viability of the industry in North America, as well as a better Internet being cultivated by experienced gardeners.
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