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In the last 10 years of professionally providing Web and Marketing services, I have heard one thing more than anything else.

“I just want to be on the first page of Google”

This statement, which is usually followed with a very low budget, is the bane of my existence. People always want the DIY price tag, but never want to do it themselves. Fortunately, things are changing, and in my opinion, for the better. This is definitely not an “I told you so moment”, well, actually it is, but I will get to that later. Below I will lay out why what I have been preaching for the last 10 years is more true now than ever, and how you can still benefit.

Google, like what every other company should do, listens to their customers. Every Google search result is based on what is best for that user. Things have changed, and no longer can anyone rank for whatever keyword they want to.

Example 1:

Type in the search “Best Cameras”

There are no product pages on the first page of Google results

What do you notice?

They’re all articles about pricing, benefits, types, etc.

But are you mad at these search results? No, me either. If I am typing in best camera, I either want a fresh idea, not sold on what ever else I looked at already, or looking for some options. And Google delivered.

Example 2:

Type in the search “Restaurants in “Enter City” = Restaurants in Houston

What do you notice?

Not a single result on the first page is a restaurant’s webpage They are all tied to review sites. As you scroll down all the results are filled with list, reviews and articles.

Again, are you mad at this result, me either, I would much rather see a list of restaurants than a single option.

Example 3:

Type in the search “Electricians in “Enter City” = Electricians in New York

What do you notice?

Not a single result on the first page is a restaurant’s webpage They are all tied to review sites. As you scroll down all the results are filled with list, reviews and articles.

So what the heck is going on?

#1: There is a lot of data out on the web, Google has most of it, and they are using it

#2: The age of “pay-to-play” is here, Google is no exception.

Facebook was one of the first platforms to move to this method. Google didn’t take to long to follow suit.

In 2019, Google’s main source of revenue was ads with over $113B. 5 years before that it was $59B

Google knows what they are doing, and it is very clear. You want to sell directly on their platform, you will pay for it. And pay for it you will.

When you think about the last example, you will notice the PAID listings. Any websites you do see come up, are showing, because, that’s right, they paid for it.

Note: Now you will find this is a little different in smaller cities, but typically they are still out performed by major cities closer by and the general rules still apply.

What does this mean for SEO?

Yes, SEO is still relevant. As long people are searching Google, and for the record, Bing, Yahoo, etc. there will always be value in SEO.

However, let’s look at the changing landscape. Keywords are:

  1. Completely dominated by big brands. You’re not going to out rank them (without spamming) so dont try.
  2. Resulting in more articles and other content types then product pages
  3. Displaying more knowledge based graphs, review aggregators, and user focused results.

The days of ranking products or services on the first page are very limited. If we want more traffic, here is what we can do.

  1. Create Valuable and Quality Content.

I have been saying this for years. Everyone has such a hard time with this because it takes a lot of work. I have always said, no one should know your business better than you, so if you outsource this, hire a good copywriter, but be involved in the process. Work with a content consultant that can help you find your voice and the right way to expose it.

2. Pay for it.

I typically talk about this first, but frankly, I am so firm on the content creation, that I tend to leave this until second. Also, this is a good way to use remarketing tactics to capitalize on content creation. Keep in mind, you have ad spend and then you have management fees, which can be hire than your ad spend.

3. Optimize for Everyone

Yes, Google is the big game in town, but even Google is not looking at just Google. As you saw from the examples, Goole is ranking Yelp search engine results and Amazon search results. Each platform offers unique advantages. Make the connections because, in the event people are looking on these other platforms directly, Google will get bypasses altogether.

  • If you are decorating a house or looking for DIY, you may go directly to Pinterest, Etsy, Houzz, not Google
  • If you are looking for second hand furniture or parts, you may go directly to Craigslist, Ebay, not Google
  • If you are looking for specific items and need them fast, you may go directly to Amazon, not Google.

What do I do now?

You need to think bigger. How are you widening your presence across the web and not just on Google?

Think about your audience and where they spend most of their time. If you are looking for a business, where do you go, who would you trust. Google may be the place you go to search, but where do you click next to validate your search. Maybe it’s Yelp, maybe it’s Pinterest or LinkedIn. Ask these questions, and really think what would you do if you were them.

So What?

It really is, and always has been about understanding your client, knowing your customer, and providing value. The companies that have been doing that all along are the ones who are now benefiting the most. It’s not too late and you can start now. As technology and companies get more intelligent, we need to get more intelligent in how we approach marketing. There is no fast track to success and we should learn to adapt to these changes and understand that value will always be valuable.