Who Is Google listening To? And Should They Be?

Who Is Google listening To? And Should They Be?

24th July 2013

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:


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?


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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