Why Should We Do Everything Google Says?

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Matt CuttsI have said this before, I love Google. I live and breathe Google. But the other day at dinner my husband and I were talking about why we had to make some changes based on Google’s best practices, bla bla bla and my teenage daughter suddenly asked “Why do you have to do everything Google says”?

What? Why do I? Because they say so? Because it’s the right thing to do? Because they are GODgle? I didn’t have an answer. I had to stop and think. Am I a slave to a giant, intangible monster that undergoes constant change? Whenever they announce a major change we go into a flurry of action to assess potential damage and essentially reevaluate our entire online presence. Why is Google so important to us? If we wanted to break away, could we?

It isn’t Going Anywhere

Using a search engine is the most popular online activity, according to surveys by Pew Internet and most of internet users go to Google first. In fact, 83% of Internet users choose Google as their search engine of choice. The BBC tells us that Google handles more than 100 billion searches per month and sorts through 60 trillion web addresses to find your answers in less than half a second.

Because Google controls their search algorithms, and most people prefer Google Search over everything else, I guess we will always be at mercy of @MattCutts and his coworkers on Google’s Search Quality Team. They might not reign forever but for right now they are king of the hill.

Google is the Biggest and Baddest Advertising Company

Most of us associate Google with Google Search, Google Chrome, and maybe even those self-driving cars in California. But did you know that Google makes 96% of its revenue from advertising? Public files on the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website show in the 2006 fiscal year, they pulled in more than $10 billion from advertising alone. Everything else Google did made less than $150 million combined. By the way, for clarification, we associate this with Google Analytics, Adwords, and AdSense, not the pet projects they inevitably throw away (here’s to you, Google Latitude).

More than half of the Internet’s top websites have Google Analytics installed and that tells me that we need to take notice and pay attention, not because we do everything they say (according to my daughter), but because so many successful people have identified a this as a genuinely useful tool. And because I don’t believe you can advertise a website, brand, or product well without using Google. Let me put it this way, it’s like trying to grocery shop without buying a P&G product.

Google Cares About You

I know you don’t believe me and I don’t blame your skepticism in light of Google’s antitrust probes, but every business owner advertising online benefits from Google’s quality assurance. They have teams dedicated to improving search quality and identifying spam and this is great!

So here’s to you Google, and thank you for downgrading the page rank of well-known content farms. Thank you for pushing aside low-value content to allow room for bloggers like us who actually care. Thank you for creating cottage industries that I can earn from and that gives me the means to buy my kids the clothes and toys that they want. That’s why I do everything Google says.

Do you?

Bernadette Coleman
Bernadette Coleman is the CEO of Advice Local, an award winning technology and Inc 500 digital agency. Bernadette is passionate about all things digital including... Read Full Bio
Bernadette Coleman
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  • I’m a slave to Google and to be honest I don’t really mind. Bending over backwards to please them gives me a decent ranking and an income. They even give me free maps so I know how long t takes to get to my clients place of work. This month Google are doing free courses in the Analytics academy, Then there’s analytics itself, webmaster tools, authorship and page insights. The ‘data’ they take from me is a pretty small price for all that ‘free’ stuff 🙂 Thanks Google.

  • James H.

    I agree! I don’t think we should view Google as a slave driver of some sort, but rather as an industry leader. They really are trying to make things better for those who create organic content like bloggers, but make it harder for those who figured out how to dupe their older algorithms to make money off them cheaply. The rankings (and the money) rightfully belong to those who exert the effort (like bloggers).

  • Scott McKirahan

    Hmmm … I was having this same conversation with my wife over dinner a couple of nights ago and I DID have an answer. We have to do these things because Google’s algorithm is extremely flawed (as are all search engine algorithms, to date). It is so broken, that an entire industry has been built around convincing website owners that what they are doing is wrong and then, for a not-so-small monthly fee, fixing things so that their websites can rank higher, regardless of whether there are better sites than theirs out there or not.

    If search engine algorithms were all they should be, there would be no need for SEO or backlinking of any kind. They could send their robots out, crawl the entire web and bring up the best results for any given query – results that included only one link per domain – the very best page of each site for any given query. They would not be ranked in the order of how big a business was or how long it had been around or how well-known that business was or how many other websites (and the importance of those websites) linked to them. Instead, the results would be what they should be – the very best websites with the most information that matched my query. The better I construct my query; the more precise I am, the better my results would be.

    We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking we have done something wrong – that we need to improve. The fact is, the problem was never with the website; the problem has always been the search engines!

    • Good answer Scott. I agree…

    • Scott, you should clarify your comment when you say that the problem has always been with the search engines. Think about how impressive of a search engine Google is to begin with. Thinking back to the mid/late 90’s about the days of Yahoo, Lycos, Excite and the rest is an embarrassment to the current state of Google, and how it forced Microsoft to develop Bing. Google still has ways to go, sure, but think about how advanced they already are.

    • Dorin

      Sounds good, but I have one question in regards to what you mentioned. How would that algorithm know which website is best? The only possible solution would be to have people check what the robots find and mark that content. But then, the result would still be dependent on the people reviewing the results.

      The current algorithm might have a few mistakes, but I believe it works as intended as a robot will need a lot of data to come to a conclusion.

    • Scott – I believe what you are talking about is having the search engines be better at (or start for that matter) being able to understand “context” as well as content. That is akin to AI (artificial intelligence) and may actually be closer than we think. However, until they can discern to some level of accuracy, what they content message is in relation to the search query though, we pretty much have to live with what currently use to determine good results. Albeit not perfect, it is getting better with every change.

      Ahhh…..but to dream of a day when they can! Where great content is truly rewarded and mediocre and poor content is simply sifted into the vast unknown of digital nothingness. Seems so far away….

  • I end up looking at it a little bit differently.

    Of course we are always chasing Google to try and rank better and move up the result listings. But we as a company also use Google Apps to provide email, docs, hosting etc. so it becomes a simple matter of productivity. The biggest challenge with this is when they roll interface changes… why do we need to use this new layout? Because Google Said So. 🙂

  • I listen to Google, but do everything they say? That makes it sound like we exist for Google. Google is a supplier – a big, powerful supplier – and if you build your business around the whims of one supplier – even one as important as Google – you’re running your business tactically, not strategically, and it’s going to be a (very) bumpy road. I’ve seen what that looks like.

    I generally think the tools Google provides and the guidance they offer is sound and intended to create a vibrant online ecosystem, but you still have to exercise critical, independent judgment.

  • Yes and no. Google is money, so we must be on top of it, but the best answer is as long as your site (or your client’s) is loaded with quality content, you have nothing to fear from the Google smackdown. My philosophy is simply to provide informative, original content and advise my clients to keep it fresh.

  • Hey Bernadette,
    you really got me thinking on this one.

    I have to partly disagree with the comment Scott left.
    Why does Google consider all those metrics it is considering? Because it needs somehow to determine the relevance of a website according to a specific search term. Well, relevance is a non-measurable criterium and that’s why Google is considering backlinks, domain age, etc. for ranking. How else shall they define that users like content if not by those parameters? If you’re writing a great article that really helps people, they’ll share it and link to it and it’ll be around for a long time – it’s as easy as that. Why would people link to useless stuff? Well, they link to cat photos, but that’s a different story…

    So Google needs to have a complex algorithm to measure the relevance of a page, which again is a non-measurable criterium.

    BUT Scott is right saying that there is a huge industry that’s just trying to make money by promising shortcuts to a high ranking which would take months or even years to be achieved naturally. In my eyes that’s not the fault of Google but the greed of humans who are looking for new business opportunities, who don’t want to wait until the Google algorithm ranks their site and of course for those who want to rank their crappy sites at all costs.

    So yes, you’re right that people follow Google’s rules.
    In fact, I’m doing keyword research and on-page optimization for my authority niche site. I’m owning a few smaller niche sites as well, but I’m not paying any attention to them (yet).

    So I think that YES, I’m doing all I can to please Google, so that my sites do rank. But on the other hand I talked to Neil Patel on Friday and his thought was that keyword research will become less important over the next 6 months or so (don’t quote me on this, it’s his thought). So Google is trying to include more natural metrics in their algorithms to stop black hat techniques that rip off honest people.

    I think we all will perform well as long as put honest work into our websites and ensure that our content is relevant for our target audience. Since I never used any black hat / grey hat tactics as link purchasing or something like that, I can’t say anything to them. But they’ll become less beneficial over time, I’m sure about that.

    To come to an end, I think it’s a good idea to have a website naturally ranking high in Google if you’re not heavily relying on other traffic sources. People will continue to betray any system, as long as they see a benefit in doing it – regardless whether we’re talking of Google, scammy Internet business trainings or something else. That’s how (some) humans work.

    Best regards,

    • Thanks Jan! But you said it best…”we all will perform well as long as put honest work into our websites and ensure that our content is relevant for our target audience. ” I can’t stress that enough!

  • I can’t imagine my life without Googles services..i can say that i’m definitely a Slave of The Big G

  • Great Article Bernadette. However depending on Google at a very large scale is very dangerous and it’s worth to take effort o build loyal readers and traffic who comes after your blog frequently. For example one of our clients Websites Ceylon Radio, we have manged to get traffic and now it do not even need Google to keep it’s traffic and revenues.

  • I do! Because Google will lead us to become a good and better marketers. 🙂

  • The million dollar question is why Google has to be so difficult if they care so much?

    With the technology we have these days monitoring search habits it’s clear what’s real and fake.
    Why not demote the incoming junk and spam to a site automatically without penalizing it ?
    A genius mind can plugin to algorithms and take down competitor websites.

    What I am seeing is good quality sites getting scraped in Google with good placement in “all” other engines.
    This is insanity on Google’s part trapping keywords and numbering organic impressions.
    Webmaster tools showing pages of <10 with average placement 1.x – 5 Baddest, Yes

    "Google Cares About You" Seriously! If this was true why is their no support organic listings? Don't you think paying for a service like Adwords would justify some kind of support other then some lame videos to keep you guessing?

    "83% of Internet users choose Google" If they keep up rolling out more non-sense filters and keep trapping good websites these numbers will continue to drop. Love Google to death but they need to change their way of thinking.

    All puffed up will get you in big trouble. I have been in this industry for 30yrs. and I have seen the rise and fall of big empires… "Do what I say Please " Reminds me of the on the guy on AMC's Walking Living Dead… What ever you say governor!

  • That’s Great Story.. But it’s my thought say’s Next couple of years or may be couple of centuries i don’t show any big SE’s to compare with google so Google doing great works to provide spam free result to google searchers.

  • google guidlines are simple to follow and they are in the favor of webmasters. so i do love it.

  • Yes I do. As a Google user, I always follow them and love all their anti spam activities. Thank you very much for the writing. I also think like you and it seems to me that, you have expressed my own emotion about Google. Haha!

  • People have their own ways of judgment. I think that it is not wrong if wanted to follow Google, I mean It is your own discretion whether it is best to follow or not.

    Google plays a big role in human modernization now a day. It has somehow gives us innovative ways to reach thousands of people and not just only that, you can wisely market anything and Google will do the rest.

    Thank you Bernadette for sharing!

  • I don’t mind to be salve of a legend . Google provides quality and helpful in every situation in which no one will with you. Whenever there is any coding problem, places problems, locations, and any other queries I have to solve, The only one name is in my Mind, Thats Google ! really GODgle

  • Of course there is an answer to that which doesn’t require a lot of thinking. In the country I live Google has more than 90% of the market share, so there you have it. We need to do what they say since that’s what almost everyone is using. As mentioned previously they are the industry leaders, and we need to follow them whether we like it or not. For the record, I usually like it.

  • Well change is must, sometime we like it and sometime not, after all Google is a business for the company, sometime they make changes to suit their business needs.

    I always prefer to follow google guidelines, I care google guidelines, because I want to be listed in the SERP.

    Trends are changing fast and SEO experts or SEO companies many time use ill practices, so google actually needs to tighten the grip.

    I am effected many times but I still love google changes and I hope it gets better with time.

  • For get more business and more visibility on Google everyone should to do according to Google. Because Google is more popular search engine and every business man depend on Google.

  • It is simply a love/hate thing.. As long as you follow, you will make it to wherever you wish for(it’s only a matter of time) and a load off your mind but if you do not heed their advice then all the best to you my friends. You will be constantly worrying and figuring out how to beat the big G with every new updates. And yes I’m a slave, can’t do without them right now : )

  • Google’s keyword search function is similar to other search engines. Automated programs called spiders or crawlers travel the Web, moving from link to link and building up an index page that includes certain keywords. Google references this index when a user enters a search query. The search engine lists the pages that contain the same keywords that were in the user’s search terms. Google’s spiders may also have some more advanced functions, such as being able to determine the difference between Web pages with actual content and redirect sites — pages that exist only to redirect traffic to a different Web page.

    ­Keyword placement plays a part in how Google finds sites. Google looks for keywords throughout each Web page, but some sections are more important than others. Including the keyword in the Web page’s title is a good idea, for example. Google also searches for keywords in headings. Headings come in a range of sizes, and keywords in larger headings are more valuable than if they are in smaller headings. Keyword dispersal is also important. Webmasters should avoid overusing keywords, but many people recommend using them regularly throughout a page.

  • Maria

    As it was mentioned, Google search engine is all about users, so it’s the most popular search engine. That’s why if you want traffic/conversions/money , your site have to be high ranked in Google. There is no choice.

  • narek

    sad but true!

  • I like the context in which you describe why Google is important, but I do not completely agree that we Have to abide by whatever it says.

    I do my stuff online for my users. I know Google provides me most of those users, but there are other ways to get users to your site too. And as long as I keep them satisfied and inspired I am happy. My users will be my word-of-mouth marketers, they are more like the Godgle for me. If their friends ask them which business they would recommend, they should not have to choose from a trillion of choices. They should just have my brand’s names on their lips. Plus they would be more trusted from the human perspective than a search engine. Especially when it comes to an e-commerce like business or any business that deals with products or services.

    So for me the God(gle) is not Google, its my site visitors, product and service users.

  • Nagashruthi

    Thanks for your nice article Bernadette.

    As you want to stay stable in the market then there is no option we have to depend on Google only.

  • I do think that people exaggerate their reactions to every Google decision. It’s true they are the giant and most people start and end their day with Google but they got their because they are a business and they found support in the people that work in the SEO industry. In a way I think the SEO professionals are the ones that made Google important. We decided we wanted to listen to Google, to use it and make it such an important part of the internet. Each day we make that decision.

  • Aren’t we all serviants of Google? I raised this conversation in the office today and we simply had to laugh when we realized all SEO decisions we make revolve around Google. Google is boss, we know no other way, Nice article.

  • I am on-board here.. No doubt Google is always refining their algo. Looking back 5 years all their changes (social media integration, pinguin, panda, hummingbird.) have all been aimed at making search results better for users and getting rid of cheaters and spammers. Not something to complain about, not to mention all the free tools and guides they provide to help us get there. This one is for you, Thank you Google for helping me earn a living and the leads I get on my site.

  • Hi, No doubt , Google always play a key role, provides ideas and information, nice blog, Thanks for sharing.