Swooping Magpie

In the next few days Google is going to drop the hammer on the most significant shakeup of the search index since the summer of 2006.

It’s going to hurt bad.

Check out this Tweet from Matt Cutt’s over night…

It’s going to break.

It’s going to break bad…

Let’s do a little thought experiment…

Who actually cares about search engine rank? Let’s list them.

  1. SEO Service providers
  2. Clients of SEO Service providers
  3. Peoples who’s business is driven by the “free” traffic a high appearance in search results gives

That’s It.

Who doesn’t care about where sites appear in Google. Let’s list them.

  1. The World.

Joe and Jane Smith could not give a rat’s ass what the order of a google search result is. They just want results that are…

  1. Fast
  2. Relevant (They find the thing they’re looking for)
  3. Fast
  4. Relevant
  5. Oh Yes, FAST

That’s it. They want the answer to the problem in their head fast. As I wrote earlier, Google Now takes this a step further, it provides the information you want BEFORE you even know you need it.

So let’s do our little thought experiment.

Let’s say Google has figured out 30–40 sites that deliver a result the user likes (this is easy for google to figure out – if the user is back to Google and clicking on a different result or trying a different search, they were not happy with the original result).

Now every 3–6 months let’s just pretend (this would never happen in real life…) that google just randomly switches the order of these thirty/forty results…

What would happen…

CARNAGE! LAMENTATION OF THE WOMEN! SODEM AND BLOODY GOMORRA!!

Really…

For the SEO’s , their clients and those relying on “Free” traffic from their high search engine results. It would be carnage.

How could you promote your SEO services with a straight face? In our thought experiment (thank goodness this isn’t real….) at best you could look good to your clients for three months before the random wheel hits. Anyone marketing SEO services would be out of business in six months…

I mean, if you can’t deliver predictable results to a client, surely you can’t sell it as a service. If two in every four iPhones burst into flames every six months, the iPhone (and Apple) for that matter, would be ruined.

But luckily this is a thought experiment, it’s not real.

But Ed, Google could never do this, what if someone types in Arsenal or Texas Longhorns?

You mean, “what happens if they type in established brands in big markets, what if they type in Viagra”.

Well pre Google Now, You get the brands web site at number 1. It’s pretty simple, Joe and Jane Smith are happy.

With Google+ and universal access to your behaviour across all your devices – Google Now can take those results and amp it to 11.

It anticipates your need.

When I wake up in the morning (being in Australia) Google Now already has the scores from the games I’m interested in from over night. It also tells me the upcoming game time adjusted for where I am.

Pretty Sweet.

Almost Magical.

For SEO’s, their clients and people who rely on search traffic…

It should be bloody terrifying.

So if Google throws the “ Switch” on long tail phrases. Does Joe and Jane Smith even notice!!!

Of course not.

Now for scientific purposes I present a diagram showing the number of people affected by anarchy in the long tail and those who could not give a toss as long as they found what they where looking for…

SEO V WORLD

Not pretty. In fact the true scale is more like a grain of sand v planet earth…

Sure, all of us living in that tiny bubble will potentially have businesses destroyed.

I find it real hard to get upset.

We’ve been telling you this is coming for years.

Remember this classic.

WINTER IS COMING.

In the next few days, Google is about to dump on SEO practices from a great height, you’ve had a good run. But for you and the Great Gatsby, all good things come to an end.

Let’s get practical, what if you haven’t been storing your metaphorical nuts for winter.

Let’s look at each of the effected.

SEO Service Providers

Here’s the thing, you think your clients want you to get them to number one for all the phrases they desire.

It’s not.

They want the traffic being high up for all those keywords brings. You need to start focusing on the results you deliver, and the things you can control like,

  • Split Testing
  • Testing Paid Sources
  • Proper Tracking
  • Getting your clients to be the “Arsenal”, the “Yankees”, the “Western Bulldogs” (scratch that…sniff) of their niche. They need to practice Market Leadership -

Content * Consistency…

SEO was always an arbitrage trick and like every case of arbitrage the market figures it out and it settles down. Your clients desperately need good marketing, not one trick ponies who can’t even do their trick anymore…

Have you been using link building strategies? Doing a touch of comment linking? Using SEO Annihilation on ARMAGEDDON setting?[1]

Time to think about building your client a new fresh site with decent content and a point of view…

I’m deadly serious.

A Client using SEO Services…

Do you know what your SEO service provider was doing last summer…

Hey, they got you those rankings, You’d prefer not to know…

You need to know. For those caught up in Penguin on April 24. You know what the best strategy has been?

Start Again.

From Scratch.

With everything new.

I see this hilarious Y2K situation (remember that IT scam!) occurring again in SEO. SEO service providers who created these vomit links are now CHARGING clients to remove them.

Great work if you can get it.

Small Problem.

There is ZERO evidence this works (unless you are a high profile site who can get on the radar of a major news outlet).

The labs have reviewed 100’s of sites that lack a high profile – they are still in the bin.

If your business relies on 50% or more of your traffic coming from “FREE” traffic. You need to assume the party is over.

I hope it isn’t.

Hope is not a sound business strategy.

You need to look at the other two legs of the traffic stool – STAT.

You need to test a bunch of paid traffic sources.

You need to get your Market Leadership act together. If you’re not in the top 20 influencers in your niche. You are…I believe the technical word for it is…

STUFFED

Sorry to be brutal.

The good news is the Googageddon is going to sweep the decks of a lot of dependant (aka bad) businesses. If you keep your head screwed on properly, don’t panic, you’ll come out of this better than ever.

Today, schedule an hour with the team and simulate what would happen if you lost all your google traffic. What would it effect, what could you do. What is your Plan A, B and C (You need three options)

This is all a thought experiment…

Hey! Lucky Google will never use Radom results! Phew! You’re just telling us nightmares and trying to rattle the cage Ed…

Hmmm

The patent is called Ranking Documents. When webmeisters alter a page, or links to a page, the system may not respond immediately to those changes. Rather, the system may change rankings in unexpected ways.

A system determines a first rank associated with a document and determines a second rank associated with the document, where the second rank is different from the first rank. The system also changes, during a transition period that occurs during a transition from the first rank to the second rank, a transition rank associated with the document based on a rank transition function that varies the transition rank over time without any change in ranking factors associated with the document.

Further:

During the transition from the old rank to the target rank, the transition rank might cause:

  • a time-based delay response,
  • a negative response
  • a random response, and/or
  • an unexpected response

So, Google may shift the rankings of your site, in what appears to be a random manner, before Google settles on a target rank.

From SEO Book Last Week

Thought experiment indeed…

Seriously, get off your ass, you’ve had a good run, you’re going to need to put in some hard yards. It won’t be pleasant, it will be hard and at times frustrating, but the reward is a REAL business with REAL influence that’s immune to the vagaries of Google, or anyone else for that matter.

And that’s a good thing.

Good luck.

Ed

PS: If this article resonates, I’d really appreciate you passing it around, there are a lot of people who are going to get hurt.


  1. This is not a real product, I don’t think…  ↩

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