It is the most popular website in the world, drawing a billion visitors each month. More than 12 billion queries are sent through its search engine each month and there are more than 15 million websites connected to its Analytics tool. We’re talking, of course, about Google.
Whether your business has a well-established web presence or you’re just emerging on your own slice of cyberspace real estate, Google is most likely a key aspect of your online efforts and pursuits.
We understand that busy CEOs and entrepreneurs can’t possibly learn all there is to know about this internet gargantuan as quickly as they’d like, and your marketing team or SEO agency will likely help with understanding the common conventions regarding Google.
So today, I want to instead help you focus on five important concepts about Google that you may not come across often, yet are equally crucial to your online business strategy.
#1) Google is Constantly Changing
Before you take one more single step toward leveraging Google for your online marketing efforts, it’s imperative to understand this fact. The level of fluidity, growth, and diversity of this company is mind-blowing. You will never see Google stagnate. If it ever does go the way of the Dodo, it won’t be from complacency.
If we’re looking at all of Google enterprises as a whole, the amount of corporate acquisitions, inventions (and patents), new software products and tools, website properties and similar business activities is practically innumerable. And that’s without even considering its core component – the Search Engine.
Google is always changing and cooking up something new. Just recently, they lauded the new ‘Google Compute’ product, stepping into the ring with rivals Apple and Amazon for a veritable clash of the Cloud Computing titans.
Okay, so what about Google Search? This is the cornerstone of Google’s empire, and the service that started it all is equally dynamic. Google makes about 500 changes and updates just to its search engine algorithm each year. Many more likely occur quietly behind the scenes. They also change-up their Index and how it operates.
It would take some time and a fair amount of research to fully understand the ins and outs of Google’s algorithm changes, and may prove beneficial in the long run. But right now, the takeaway is simple: Your business must be adaptable to Google’s whims if you wish to leverage the power of search marketing.
#2) Your Competitors Are Leveraging Google
This is interesting, albeit somewhat obvious, because it applies to your business even if you don’t currently operate any type of online presence. You can bet without a sliver of doubt that some (if not all) of your rivals are competing for exposure on Google, whether through Organic Search or Pay-Per-Click ads.
If your business has an active, well optimized and maintained website with high quality unique content, then you may find yourself a step ahead already. However, the majority of business owners fall into one of two camps, which we’ll examine now. If you fall into one of these groups, your competitors are taking the money you’ve left on the table.
The first group consists of businesses with no online presence. If all you have is a single Facebook page for your business, you can count yourself among these ranks as well.
The facts are simple: You need a website…at the very least. A complete online marketing strategy is a prudent follow-up step. Think of it this way: You are saying “No” to the opportunity of exposure in front of the nearly 275 million internet users in North America alone. If you have the capabilities for global reach, the number is closer to 2.4 billion.
The other group is businesses who have a website and perhaps some additional online assets such as Social Media profiles or blogs, but aren’t competing for exposure on Google (or perhaps not competing effectively). Applying comprehensive search engine optimization for your website, as well as robust content creation and promotion strategies are the crucial first steps for businesses in this group.
It’s understandable that you may not have the time to learn or apply proper SEO techniques while running your company. If that’s the case, your next best bet is to hire an internet marketing agency. Your biggest competitors are spending those marketing dollars for good reason.
#3) Google isn’t just a search engine anymore
Google’s benefits for business in terms of marketing exposure are clear, but Google has grown into much more than just a search engine. All it takes is a quick glance over Google’s Products Page for a true understanding of the company’s breadth. And this doesn’t even include the slew of tools and resources they offer for webmasters and online marketers, such as Google Analytics. Let’s also not forget Google is the proprietor for the firmware running on all ‘Android’ mobile devices.
This means that leveraging Google for your business goes beyond simple organic optimization for their search engine. The integration Google has established (and continues to establish) across all of their platforms means you’re embarking on a more elaborate campaign with more intricate strategies.
Even by looking at just a small sampling of some ‘flagship’ products, such as Google Plus, YouTube, Google Search and Google Places, we can recognize crucial interconnections and avenues for our marketing strategies. Let’s review some examples.
Recently, Google implemented its social platform (Google Plus) as a commenting system in YouTube. While this move drew a widespread outcry from netizens worldwide, the integration opens up new avenues by which multimedia, social media, and even SEO come together in a harmony that is still yet to be realized.
Google Plus and Google Places are also intertwined. Furthermore, they are wired into Google Search, though not always in the way most people expect. Perhaps the easiest way to bolster exposure for a business using these properties is to simply create and nurture company profiles in Plus and Places.
#4) Google strives for a high-quality user experience
This could very well be the most important concept for business owners to understand about marketing in the ‘Google-scape’. Recognizing the standards of quality Google expects from websites (and why) helps us shape our campaigns and the best strategy to achieve that pinnacle positioning on search results.
Honestly, this should already align with our own commitments to provide a great user experience on the web. But it’s easy for many business owners to get caught up in optimizing for robots, relegating actual human visitors to an afterthought.
While I don’t like to bypass an opportunity to preach my “Humans First” credo for web marketers, there is still more to be gleaned from looking at Google’s stance on the matter. Let’s examine it from Google’s profit perspective.
Google’s Search Engine is the company’s core product, driving about a quarter of its revenue from paid search advertising (AdWords), to the tune of over $42 Billion in 2012.
Because of the immense traffic volume garnered through Google Search, the advertising value of such a space is enormous. Furthermore, AdWords is uniquely versatile in its ability to generate customized, dynamic, targeted ads.
Competition for the coveted spaces and high volume keywords is managed through bid-based pay-per-click campaigns, which serve to boost Google’s revenues beyond what static advertisements might otherwise yield.
Google has built a consistent, residual revenue stream unmatched in the advertising realm. But they recognize how quickly those profits can seep out if they were to lose even the slightest slice of market share among search engines. As long as they’re returning great results for users on the engine, they can retain this billion-dollar behemoth.
The Take-away: Create websites and content meriting placement in search results based on Google’s quality standards. Putting your site in that number one spot might be worth a lot to your business, but putting the right one there is worth billions to Google.
#5) Google wants to know everything it can about you and your business
The upcoming year represents a brave new world in search marketing. Google has always been a rather data-thirsty enterprise, but the gathering will grow and all that information will soon come to bear.
Google has already begun rolling out features of its new Knowledge Graph technology. If you’re a business owner on the web and you’re unfamiliar with Knowledge Graph, make sure to check out Google’s ‘Inside Search’ feature page for a crash course on the subject.
Right now, backlinks are by-and-large the most effective method Google currently has in determining where to rank a site in the results, thereby making them an important pursuit and ranking factor for SEOs. But Google may well be moving away from links as Knowledge Graph becomes more powerful, versatile and stable.
Knowledge Graph is powered by real data about real people, places and things (known as ‘entities’). Not only is Google striving to return results based on this paradigm (as opposed to algorithmically scoring the ‘votes’ from backlinks), but they are also connecting these entities together in the ether.
The advent of Knowledge Graph is already upon us, with no signs of slowing. Just this month, Google announced the addition of automobiles to the Graph. But we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Google is tying together its flagship products (Search, YouTube, Google Plus) as both an information gathering and data integration platform serving as the foundation for new search engine technology like Knowledge Graph.
The SEO world recently went topsy-turvy at the announcement of the new Hummingbird algorithm as well, which caters to mobile and spoken searches (among other changes). It’s more adept at discerning conversational queries and answering questions. Hummingbird falls right in line with the rest of the components previously mentioned, improving the intelligence of the search engine in serving up results.
Taking all of this into context with our original point about Google’s desire to learn all it can about you and your business, we begin to see that there are some new ranking factors in town; and they are all tied to your authority and influence on the web.
Brand-building will be more important than ever. Advanced SEO techniques leveraging Microformatting and Authorship Markup are becoming staples in our arsenals. Your company’s trust factors, authority, influence, and reputation are being ever more intelligently indexed – and scrutinized.
For Google, backlinks are a necessary evil because they are relatively easy for spammers to manipulate, while also being the best method for ranking websites. Knowledge Graph is much more difficult to manipulate and could potentially improve search results even beyond the current standards.
Business owners on the web should therefore evaluate their search marketing strategies now. Optimizing for Google organic search is traditionally a reactive task. Algorithms change, new penalties pop up, new ranking factors are introduced and the SEO industry shifts gears to align with the latest changes. But this time, we know what’s coming.
It’s time to be proactive with search marketing – now more than ever. Research, prepare, and apply the appropriate strategies to bolster the positioning your business needs in a new era of search engine technology.Image Credit: Robert Scoble’s Flickr Account