Clicky

X

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the State of Digital Newsletter
Join an elite group of marketers receiving the best content in their mailbox
* = required field
Daily Updates

Who Is Google listening To? And Should They Be?

24 July 2013 BY

Complaining about Google is a hobby for many people in the search industry. Even though with that they are complaining about the same hand that in a way feeds them it makes sense for the search marketer. After all, the SEO is in a ‘battle’ with Google. Trying to rank their clients pages where Google is doing everything to prevent that. After all, Google is only after their money. They don’t care about organic, it’s the ads that count right?

To a certain extend these SEO’s actually have a point. Google is not making it easy on them. It’s shifting it’s behaviour all the time, changing algorithms and ‘killing’ sites with updates like Penguin and Panda. The life of a search marketer is not easy.

There is something to be said in favour of Google as well. I really don’t have any pity with search marketers who’s sites were hit by a Penguin or Panda Update if the sites indeed didn’t live up to the Google guidelines. If you try and game the system, don’t be offended if you get punished. And on the side note I also believe that if Google wouldn’t be changing things all the time, the industry would have been long dead. Because Google is changing, search marketers need to change as well. Which will make them develop new things and that way get the industry forward.

There is one question I’d like to get answered though in this article: does Google have to listen and answer to search marketers? Or someone else?

The marketers complaints

There’s two ways of looking at how happy “we” are with Google. It’s the position of the (search) marketer on the one side and the position of the searcher on the other.

We’ve seen a few ‘complaints’ by marketers of late. Barry right here on State of Search just yesterday ‘complained’ about Google+ and somewhere else on the web a big newspaper site decided to run a not so well written (hence not linking to it) and not so well read article from a freelancer about the ‘death of SEO’ proclaiming that the death is there because of the lack of (relevant) organic results in the SERPS and the rise of Social Media. The same Social Media most marketers use to complain about Google…

The interesting (but also predictable) response from the search marketers on that article was to go in against it. “SEO isn’t dead and here’s why.”. It’s a natural response, but to be honest: I think it’s better to just ignore those types of articles and not give it the attention it doesn’t deserve in the first place (another reason for not linking to the article). But I get why search marketers want to respond: it’s their business which is being challenged. And if someone challenges you, you feel you need to answer (well at least the men do, it’s just human nature ;) ).

But that’s a side step. The question remains: should (search) marketers complain about what Google is doing? And even more important: should Google be listening to them?

We have the right to complain!

There is something to be said for complaining about Google. Because somewhere along the road Google might listen. If “we” challenge them they might improve. Or at least we hope so. It would be bad if we would just let everything go right? Give them a free pass. Complaining a little will keep Google awake a little. And besides, the marketers are the ‘representatives’ of those spending the ad money in the end. And isn’t listening to your clients important?

The thing is: we shouldn’t be overdoing it. Yes marketers can serve as a forefront, but just complaining and complaining too much will just make that it is less valuable of a complaint. It’s like something an uncle told me when I was a young boy playing in the water ‘pretending’ to be in need of help: if you shout ‘help’ too many times, there comes a point on which others don’t really think you need help, even if at that point you really do.

So when complaining about Google marketers shouldn’t overdo it. Think about when and where and really make an impact instead of becoming that woman or guy who always complains, so who shouldn’t be taken serious.

The searchers complaint

On the very same day as the search marketers responded to the SEO-is-dead article, other news came out as well. For example the numbers released by ForeSee Results which show that Google got the lowest score ever in ForeSee’s satisfaction survey. Now that is what you could call a searchers complaint: the searcher is not happy with Google.

Or is he? Because at the same time a new study by Deepfield published this week shows Google has set a new record: it now is involved in 25% of all Internet traffic in the U.S. That might indicate that the searchers are happy, because after all, they are returning to Google right?

It’s difficult to really ‘understand’ the searchers satisfaction without asking each searcher. Usage numbers therefore seem the best indication for now.

Is Google listening?

Now Google is a big company which has to make money. Lots of it. And they are. But like every company which makes money it is smart to listen to your (potential) clients. Those that bring in the money.

The question is: is Google listening?

Listening to the searcher

It seems as if Google is listening, to the searcher that is. They keep trying to fight spam, which will hopefully make for better results for the searcher in the future. And they keep saying to build sites and do SEO with the searcher in mind. It at least seems as if they have the searchers interest in mind first and foremost.

And now it also seems as if they are asking the searcher: When Googling for his own name Distilled‘s Rob Ousbey found an interesting pop up on the right:

results-satisfied-2

Google was asking him whether or not he liked the search result. Now how nice is that from Google? It is asking the searcher if it’s doing a good job!

Don’t worry, Google won’t be doing this which each search you’re going to see, but it’s an indication of who Google is listening to: it’s the searcher, the one who in the end is both their ‘client’ as well as their ‘bait’. After all, if the searcher is happy, more advertisers will show up to grab the attention of those searchers. It’s their collateral.

And what about the marketer?

So is Google listening to the marketer as well? There are only a few signs that they really are. The webmasterforums and Matt Cutts’ videos at least seem to be an effort to help the marketers/ SEO’s on their jobs. And they are present at many search conferences, talking to the SEO’s as well. But some might argue that is just ‘propaganda’ and that Google isn’t really listening.

Other than that it doesn’t look like they are paying too much attention to what ‘we’ say. Though I personally believe they are listening to us a lot more than they are showing.

The question however still remains: does Google have to listen and answer to search marketers? Or someone else? The searcher maybe? I personally feel Google needs SEOs (even to complain) and SEO’s definitely need Google. But should Google listen?

I’d like to hear from you on this. Let me know in the comments: do you feel Google should listen to the marketer? And are they?

Opt In Image
Want to know more about branding? Download this free e-book.

Interested in tactics like these and want to understand how you can improve your branding strategies? Subscribe and download this free guide on brand monitoring and don't miss any future brand opportunities!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
* By downloading you automatically subscribe to our newsletter, you can end that subscription at any given moment.
AUTHORED BY:
h

Bas van den Beld is a speaker, trainer and online marketing strategist. Bas is the founder of Stateofdigital.com. -- You can hire Bas to speak, train or consult.
  • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

    On that topic of rebutting articles that proclaim the death of SEO, I firmly believe we have a duty to respond to those articles and counter their misinformation. Because if we don’t, that sort of dreadful tripe will become more ubiquitous, and people will actually start to believe that social media is the king of digital marketing and SEO is just a mutant bastard child hidden under the cupboard.

    And that is a very dangerous belief because it means companies will shift budgets to endeavours that yield lower ROI, deliver less value, and just plain don’t work. Anyone taking a good look at their website’s analytics will see that search is still the king of conversion-driving traffic channels, and we should not abide by delusional opinions stating otherwise.

    Second, we’re not complaining TO Google – we’re complaining ABOUT Google. There’s a big difference there.

    I have no illusions about Google listening to anything I say. They genuinely don’t care. But that’s not the point of my rants. I complain about Google because I want to make people aware of what Google is doing. I want people to have a clear understanding of Google’s motivations, so that they have the right expectations when they engage in digital marketing.

    And maybe, some small part of me hopes some folks in the professional media are listening, so they too can write more informed articles about Google’s insidious propaganda strategies and anti-competitive tactics, and perhaps those will be read by policy makers….

    Planting seeds, Bas, that’s what it is. ;)

    P.S. my post yesterday was not really complaining about Google+, it was merely stating facts. That those facts speak badly about Google+ is not my fault. :)

    • Bas van den Beld

      Hey Barry,

      with all respect, I do think that ‘complaining’ (whether it’s TO or ABOUT) has it’s purposes, the one you are mentioning (making people aware) is one of them, which could be highlighted more in the article actually, as is making Google aware, because I do believe they do listen (acting on it is a different thing, but they are listening).

      But I do think that that there is a fine line between planting seeds and becoming that group of people (SEO’s) who just keep saying the same thing and preaching for their own products. It’s what I said in the article: the more SEO’s will complain, the less receptive people will become. That is also the case with the ‘death of SEO’ articles. If we respond to every article, remark or social update made in that direction, we’ll just be that group of people who ‘off course’ says the opposite.

      The best thing you can do I think is proven results: show it works by doing a great job for your clients. Spread case studies and knowledge about that, through posts (like you do here) or talks on conferences. But going ‘against’ the ‘death of SEO’ posts will just put more focus on those articles and less on the (good) work many SEO’s are doing.

      • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

        Well I suppose we’ll just have to disagree there. Ignore the anti-SEO blather and it’ll spread, fight it and it receives more attention… Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

        Proven results is always the key, as you say. That’s why we really shouldn’t HAVE TO defend SEO in the first place – a quick glance at any decent site’s web analytics shows even the most uneducated layperson that search dominates.

        The fact that we still find ourselves justifying SEO, when all the evidence to its unparalleled success is right in front of everyone’s eyes, is what depresses me most.

        • Bas van den Beld

          I think ‘defending’ never is the right attitude. Do great things and you’ll get much more out of it. Bad things only spread when they are ‘fed’. Plus you just keep on fighting. If you show how good you are there is no ‘aftertaste’ of that negative article, which you will always be connected to if you respond to it.

          Why would a ‘bad’ article have more impact than a good one? It doesn’t unless people dive on the bad one.

          I think we do disagree on the approach but in the end the goal: showing how good you are is the same. I just don’t think we should let ourselves be distracted with something that will always be there. If you do your job right & show exactly that, articles like the ‘SEO is dead’ will only seem like a funny one man attempt trying to get business. Now people might think he actually has a point, “why would SEO’s otherwise respond? It’s their jobs who are on the line”.

          A wise man once told me that the REAL influential and powerful people don’t even look up in a restaurant when a glass breaks, they don’t get distracted. I think we should try the same.

          • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

            No offence Bas, but you made a lot of sense right up to that last quote. :) People who don’t look up in a restaurant when a glass breaks are oblivious to their surroundings. And that, I think, is not a commendable trait. Tunnel-vision and all that…

            Also they’d be the first to get eaten in the zombie apocalypse.

          • Bas van den Beld

            Hehe, yeah that’s one way of putting it. Others would say those people have a good sense of what really matters and what doesn’t ;-)

            Not responding doesn’t mean not knowing ;)

  • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

    On that topic of rebutting articles that proclaim the death of SEO, I firmly believe we have a duty to respond to those articles and counter their misinformation. Because if we don’t, that sort of dreadful tripe will become more ubiquitous, and people will actually start to believe that social media is the king of digital marketing and SEO is just a mutant bastard child hidden under the cupboard.

    And that is a very dangerous belief because it means companies will shift budgets to endeavours that yield lower ROI, deliver less value, and just plain don’t work. Anyone taking a good look at their website’s analytics will see that search is still the king of conversion-driving traffic channels, and we should not abide by delusional opinions stating otherwise.

    Second, we’re not complaining TO Google – we’re complaining ABOUT Google. There’s a big difference there.

    I have no illusions about Google listening to anything I say. They genuinely don’t care. But that’s not the point of my rants. I complain about Google because I want to make people aware of what Google is doing. I want people to have a clear understanding of Google’s motivations, so that they have the right expectations when they engage in digital marketing.

    And maybe, some small part of me hopes some folks in the professional media are listening, so they too can write more informed articles about Google’s insidious propaganda strategies and anti-competitive tactics, and perhaps those will be read by policy makers….

    Planting seeds, Bas, that’s what it is. ;)

    P.S. my post yesterday was not really complaining about Google+, it was merely stating facts. That those facts speak badly about Google+ is not my fault. :)

    • Bas van den Beld

      Hey Barry,

      with all respect, I do think that ‘complaining’ (whether it’s TO or ABOUT) has it’s purposes, the one you are mentioning (making people aware) is one of them, which could be highlighted more in the article actually, as is making Google aware, because I do believe they do listen (acting on it is a different thing, but they are listening).

      But I do think that that there is a fine line between planting seeds and becoming that group of people (SEO’s) who just keep saying the same thing and preaching for their own products. It’s what I said in the article: the more SEO’s will complain, the less receptive people will become. That is also the case with the ‘death of SEO’ articles. If we respond to every article, remark or social update made in that direction, we’ll just be that group of people who ‘off course’ says the opposite.

      The best thing you can do I think is proven results: show it works by doing a great job for your clients. Spread case studies and knowledge about that, through posts (like you do here) or talks on conferences. But going ‘against’ the ‘death of SEO’ posts will just put more focus on those articles and less on the (good) work many SEO’s are doing.

      • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

        Well I suppose we’ll just have to disagree there. Ignore the anti-SEO blather and it’ll spread, fight it and it receives more attention… Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

        Proven results is always the key, as you say. That’s why we really shouldn’t HAVE TO defend SEO in the first place – a quick glance at any decent site’s web analytics shows even the most uneducated layperson that search dominates.

        The fact that we still find ourselves justifying SEO, when all the evidence to its unparalleled success is right in front of everyone’s eyes, is what depresses me most.

        • Bas van den Beld

          I think ‘defending’ never is the right attitude. Do great things and you’ll get much more out of it. Bad things only spread when they are ‘fed’. Plus you just keep on fighting. If you show how good you are there is no ‘aftertaste’ of that negative article, which you will always be connected to if you respond to it.

          Why would a ‘bad’ article have more impact than a good one? It doesn’t unless people dive on the bad one.

          I think we do disagree on the approach but in the end the goal: showing how good you are is the same. I just don’t think we should let ourselves be distracted with something that will always be there. If you do your job right & show exactly that, articles like the ‘SEO is dead’ will only seem like a funny one man attempt trying to get business. Now people might think he actually has a point, “why would SEO’s otherwise respond? It’s their jobs who are on the line”.

          A wise man once told me that the REAL influential and powerful people don’t even look up in a restaurant when a glass breaks, they don’t get distracted. I think we should try the same.

          • http://www.barryadams.co.uk/ Barry Adams

            No offence Bas, but you made a lot of sense right up to that last quote. :) People who don’t look up in a restaurant when a glass breaks are oblivious to their surroundings. And that, I think, is not a commendable trait. Tunnel-vision and all that…

            Also they’d be the first to get eaten in the zombie apocalypse.

          • Bas van den Beld

            Hehe, yeah that’s one way of putting it. Others would say those people have a good sense of what really matters and what doesn’t ;-)

            Not responding doesn’t mean not knowing ;)

  • Pingback: SearchCap: The Day In Search, July 24, 2013 ,Vancouver Island, Canada

  • Sara Andersson

    A good article Bas – thank you. I believe there is a lack of marketing understanding within SEO. If you are working with search marketing with an emphasis on marketing you actually want to show up for relevant search terms, when the searcher wants you or is happy to see you (hence relevant timing) and also not to send them to a landing page that is irrelevant. Google wants to provide the best results for its’ searchers so indeed they will listen in IF the search marketing can help to improve this. Unfortunately SEO and marketing is not a marriage at all times and Google have no interrest in representing manipulated SERPs in order for some travel company to be ranked higher than the other…
    Maybe there is a question to be asked from Googles side: Is there a need to listen to anyone else than the end-user? Being Google or an SEO representing a good and honest product or client – It should be the same.

  • Sara Andersson

    A good article Bas – thank you. I believe there is a lack of marketing understanding within SEO. If you are working with search marketing with an emphasis on marketing you actually want to show up for relevant search terms, when the searcher wants you or is happy to see you (hence relevant timing) and also not to send them to a landing page that is irrelevant. Google wants to provide the best results for its’ searchers so indeed they will listen in IF the search marketing can help to improve this. Unfortunately SEO and marketing is not a marriage at all times and Google have no interrest in representing manipulated SERPs in order for some travel company to be ranked higher than the other…
    Maybe there is a question to be asked from Googles side: Is there a need to listen to anyone else than the end-user? Being Google or an SEO representing a good and honest product or client – It should be the same.

  • Iam Donald

    Hi Bas, i really like this post…

    I certainly believe Google is listening their gradual scrapping of Google places and focusing all on Google plus is a sign that they’re listening to us local marketers. However, from my observation of the past couple of years, Google is definitely listening and responding (i.e. getting into implementation) the complaints of searchers more than they are to marketers/seos/advertisers of any other party.

    The way i see it, they do enough to keep us (the marketers/seo/advertisers) “happy”; while the focus on “wow’ing” the searchers. For a cute analogy: We (marketers) are the udder and teats that are tugged while milking the cow (searchers). We can only be for as long as there is milk or we go sore (lol). But, the cow has to remain alive and well or the party is over.

Watch our free webinar about blogging now!