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Trying to Keep Up with SEO…

(And why does it keep changing so flipping fast?!?)

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Early last year, I wrote an article about how Google was once again “changing the game” of search engine optimization. “In 2009, Video is King!” decried Google, and so I dutifully passed on the cutting-edge news to you.

That was the first major publicly announced shift in Google SEO strategy in nearly 2 years.  Prior to that, it was “keywords, content, and inbound links.” Go back a couple more years, and it was “keywords & content,” which replaced the original long-standing Google SEO strategy of simply “keywords.”

Why the constant changing?  Well, it’s because you are EVIL.

Actually, I don’t mean that you PERSONALLY are evil. What I mean is that you, me, the populace, and all non-Google-employees are evil. Because we’re all trying to “crack the code” on search engine optimization, and find a way to gain an unfair advantage for ourselves.  (There’s a lot of money to be made by producing and achieving “first page of results” on Google, you know.)

So like “cops and robbers” and “Cowboys and Indians” (and maybe now it’s “Marines and Taliban”), the battle rages between the programmers at the giant Google search engine machine, and the thousands of SEO specialists who try to cheat the system. I guess we could call it “Programmers and SEO Specialists.” (Think that’ll catch on with our children and grandchildren?  Nah, me neither.)

Search engine optimization truly is little more than a game whereby SEO specialists try to figure out Google’s strategy, and then find ways to circumvent the system and put their clients on page 1. Meanwhile, poor Google just keeps trying to give the searching public what they really want: a relevant search result.

Google’s primary goal has driven all their major strategy changes since the beginning, including their latest strategy for 2010. Here’s a 20 second summary of the major strategy changes over the last 8 to 10-years of this game:

  • When the evil specialists started using bogus keywords like “naked” and “Brittany Spears”, Google said “the content and the keywords have to match.”
  • When the specialists started hiding the content in white text on a white background, Google said “Caught ya!  You are evil, and hereby banned from my rankings.”
  • Then Google said “inbound links from other sites that point to you will prove that you are indeed relevant.” Then “blogs” were created, and life was good for a few months.
  • Then Google took note of a strange new animal called “YouTube.” And as YouTube’s popularity grew by leaps and bounds (now ranked #4 busiest website in the world), Google said “Hey, people seem to like this YouTube thing. It must be honest and relevant. And entertaining too.  So we will use it to influence your search engine rankings.  We have decided that Video is King.”

Oh my, that is all so “last year.” Keywords, content, links and video are all still good.  But there’s another animal on the scene now that’s bigger and badder than YouTube. It’s that interesting new fellow down the street known as “Facebook.” And with a worldwide website popularity ranking of #2 , you can bet this new neighbor has Google’s attention. (Just imagine how the folks at Yahoo felt when they got bumped from their long-held #2 position by an upstart morph of that childish little “MySpace.” Probably a lot like the angry German and Japanese executives in last year’s hilarious Hyundai commercial. )

So as of a couple of months ago, Google is now actively monitoring all traffic and discussions on Facebook . That’s bad news and good news for you.

The bad news is that “the programmers” have “upped the ante,” which means “the SEO specialists” are having to work longer and harder than ever. What previously took an hour or two a month is now taking an hour or two a week — maybe more.  (And it’s only expected to get worse.) Whatever you’re currently paying for SEO services, I predict you are either going to see a price increase or a decline in results in the not-too-distant future.

This also means you’ll have to be extra careful about choosing an SEO company today.  Because some of those “specialists” are still playing by the old rules of “keywords and content” or “keywords, content and links.” Ask them about Facebook.  Their answer should tell you whether or not they’re on the cutting edge of SEO.

Now the good news — Google likes Facebook. And Facebook is free.  And it’s actually pretty easy if you’ll just give it a chance. So you now have a golden opportunity to boost your own search engine rankings for free with just a little bit of “playtime” on Facebook.

If you haven’t started doing this already (you’ve probably heard me make this recommendation several times already, right?), here’s what I recommend you do starting today:

  1. Sign up for a personal page on Facebook .  And post a picture of yourself. (You won’t be taken seriously if you don’t have a profile photo.)
  2. Now create a “fan page” for your company on Facebook.  Link your fan page to your website.  Then upload your logo as a photo.  (It will probably look goofy in a square format, but don’t worry about it.  Nobody cares anyway.)
  3. Now start posting updates to your Facebook page EVERY DAY. Have your supervisor take photographs of every job in progress, and post them daily by customer name.
  4. Now tell your customers to go check out the latest photos of their job on your Facebook page.

Do you know what’s really cool about this strategy?  Not only is it free, but it’s actually relevant. People will be going to your Facebook page (and potentially your website) not because you’ve tricked them, but because they’re actually interested in seeing what you put in there.

And that’s all Google really wants anyway – is for people to be happy with the results they get when they search.  So let’s stop fighting Google, and start posting content that people want to see. It’s a popularity contest, and I really want you to win.

To your success,


2010 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc.  May not be used without permission.


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