Think Like Google To Discover The New SEOIt isn’t as hard to think like Google as you might imagine. Putting all the romantic “do no evil” stuff aside Google is a corporation driven by the profit motive. It helps if you think of profits less “occupy Wall Street” and more “profits = freedom and sustainability”.
Google’s “products” are the infinity of its search database. Managing a business in infinite networked space brings some unique challenges and problems including:
- The Nothing Problem
- Fickle Brand Loyalty
- The Control Problem
- Content Explosion
- The Competition Problem
The Nothing ProblemCompanies have strange corporate memories. Companies grab on certain “truths” and make those beliefs sacrosanct, immutable. Google has some of the smartest people on the planet. Here are some of Google's Canons and beliefs:
- More is better, more wins so index as much of the web as makes economic sense fast
- The three most important words in our vocabulary to create great customer experience are speed, speed and speed
- Our brand, such as it is, is intimately connected to our performance
- Our performance is dependent on others (the sites we shift traffic to who may or may not understand how the Internet works and the advertisers who buy our “ads”)
- Moore’s Law means other networks are bound to create scale as the cost of creating such scale declines, so we must distinguish ourselves from them based on technical performance and customer experience
- Ultimately Google is an idea not a thing, not a product in the usual sense, so our future depends on our performance, only great performance keeps Google's brand idea alive
- If a competitor makes significant inroads the entire idea of Google is threatened
Fickle Brand LoyaltyGoogle isn’t GM. My grandfather used to say, “As goes GM so goes the country (and yes I realize how ironic that is now). Google has created a different kind of functional loyalty, the kind of loyalty that easily evaporates should Google not be able to fulfill its brand promise.
At 54 I still drink to much Coke, but that is testimony to how deep the brand hook (and a growing addition to sugar and caffeine) was set running around Texas in my youth. Google is different. No one will continue to “drink” Google if performance lags or there is a better alternative. Google’s future depends on leadership and leadership depends on performing creative destruction at regular intervals thus Panda and Penguin.
Control ProblemGoogle only controls half of its customer experience. The most important half comes from what happens AFTER Google fires a search set. If visitors click on links and don’t get what they want the Google idea is threatened. In a world gone mad with content Google as filter, Google as arbiter of “best” or “most relevant” becomes increasingly important. I would argue Google’s brand turns now more on WHAT we receive than HOW a search is executed (ah the good old days when getting anything was minor miracle, the days before Google raised our expectations for what comes our way).
In the not too distant past something slightly relevant and fast was sufficient. Google’s outstanding performance against this simple goal (something sort of relevant fast), a goal sufficient for pre-social networked times, raised their bar in our eyes.
Google’s response to Facebook’s significant threat is still forming. Make no mistake if Facebook didn’t exist Moore’s Law means some other invading horde would have arrived. If we think like Google we can see outlines of Google’s response to social networks and river of flooding UGC it brings including:
- Fix Google’s “vision” with a faster machine learning algorithm (created by Naveneet Panda) so the rose colored glasses come off and we (Google) can see the junk
- Use the traffic hammer to get partners to clean up their rooms
- Float the index gaining several advantages
- Google seems more social and relevant creating a “one-to-some” feel much like social nets
- Ad revenues increase because Google controls when and if an ad is displayed against what keywords and to whom (helps with targeting and makes it easy to identify spam)
- Easier to create new products such as selling back SSL encrypted data to advertisers for a princely sum
- Move toward continuous integration where algorithm changes go up every minute of every day insuring Google's search engine math always wins AND it is almost impossible to game
- Create a social network (Google+) and don’t hesitate to break the firewall between search results and ads (especially post float since no absolute references exists now)
Content Explosion"We create as much content every 2 days now as from the dawn of man until 2003."
former Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Moore’s Law says the amount of content we create or the tools we can create it with is not going to slow down anytime soon. When former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the most amazing factoid I’ve ever heard at the Techonomy conference in 2010 he correctly identified the culprit
as UGC (user generated content) coming from social networks (i.e. Facebook and Twitter).
Social networks don’t have to go head-to-head with Google. Social nets can swamp Google’s value proposition with crap content. Social networks can drown Google with its own water. That is sheer chess brilliance except for one thing – the opponent across the table is scaled, powerful and not stupid. Google understands Moore’s Law is driving their ship and so Gordon Moore's law can drive others too. The key to longevity lies in Google's response to the inevitable threats.
Competition ProblemMoore’s Law, that the cost of integrated circuits plummets even as power increases, creates an interesting market. Moore’s Law means NOW is more expensive than LATER, so what you do today must lock out competitors in a cheaper tomorrow. Good luck with that (lol).
Once there are scaled networks with open APIs then the next generation will mashup those networks. Mashups are COOL with Facebook and Google because; as long as the next generation of cool tools are mashing THEIR API they gain at least as much as the mashers. The stuff entrepreneurs build on their platforms makes them richer.
Facebook’s continued unwillingness to let Google at their data frustrates Google and is understandable. Facebook CAN’T let Google inside the fence since to do so means they move from potential MASTER to permanent SERF. Facebook is smart enough to see the obvious, but a master manipulator (think Steve Jobs deal with Bill Gates) would do just enough to co-opt Google. There is a deal in there that looks too good for Google to refuse, a deal that would create the perception of continued dominance allowing the breathing room necessary (for Facebook) to actually create an incursion that could threaten Google’s dominance.
Such a masterful deal is beyond Zuckerberg’s skills at present and that is why many of his Sand Hill Road investors fled into the night at the IPO. Better $50M today than nothing tomorrow. VC are all about risk and, short of some kind of an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” deal with Google Facebook’s days could very well be numbered (remember jury is awaiting Facebook’s counter to Google’s last move read my Life Lessons For Zuckerberg's Clan).
What should keep both of these giants up at night is SoLoMo. Social, Local and Mobile with VIDEO tossed in for good measure on an iPad is moments after the Mobile Big Bang. No one has any real grip on what is happening in SoLoMo or how to monetize, create brand loyalty and rule what is clearly NEXT.
Will we still search in a mobile world? Absolutely since “search” is more common on Smart Phones and iPads than talking or texting, but who will we search with and why? That is the question and the rub. Neither Google of Facebook is distinguished by their mobile plays (yet) thus creating a vacuum. Business doesn’t like a vacuum anymore than nature so stay tuned to see if, while Google and Facebook are jousting, some other disruptive company arrives and shuffles the deck on both of them.
If you wondered why Facebook would pay a billion for Instagram? You have your answer - swallow whole and acquire new weapons before same is done unto you. I’m waiting for the startup entrepreneur who, like Zuckerberg, turns down a billion bucks. That is the guy (or girl) who must keep the Facebookers and Googlers up at night. That is the person who will know they are about to kick some status quo butt right into the DogPile of history.
Somewhat related: The Best SEO Is No SEO (on ScentTrail and Prezi)