Google, Yahoo and Bing love brands, but why? A brand is simply a byproduct of excellence: clear mission statement, consistency, long-term objectives, value, juxtaposed fly-by-night companies, lack vision, are inconsistent, cut-corners for profit, culminating in the deepening dichotomy between random websites and brands. Search engines did not contrive, or set out to birth this difference, they simply shone a light on subsistent reality. Beholden to its own virtuous standards, brands approach SEO (search engine optimization) mindfully.
Search EcoSystem: Food Chain Hierarchy
Pumbaa: Kid, what’s eatin’ ya? Timon: Nothing, he’s at the top of the food chain! - Lion King
Timon, is an astute meerkat, instinctively keen to food chain hierarchy. Smaller companies, comparable to children, push boundaries until punished or benevolently made-cognizant of their naive blunderings.
Search engines, webmasters and users co-exist in a closed system of mutual benefit. The ecosystem of search only functions properly when all participants align goals; benefiting the end user with a relevant, popular, result based on search query or keywords. If search engines declared profit was more important, the promise would be broken and user fulfilment would greatly suffer. If webmasters trick search engines for covetous riches, inconsiderate of the end user, search engines would steadfastly implement algorithm changes, protecting the end user. End users will only search if the search engines are living up to their brand promise, Don’t Be Evil, and Organizing the World’s data. The two most important players in this game are search engines and end users, as webmasters are unceremoniously replaced by those willing and eager to provide a better experience. Brands are savvy, aware of this limited role, whether intuitively or explicitly by way of public website crucifictions.
Take Back Control...Somewhat
Neo, embraced control, self-destiny, symbolically ingesting the red pill, yet paradoxically remaining subjugated by the matrix, now fully-aware of his plight. Webmasters, often traverse the aforementioned path: ignorance, enlightenment, and a decision to play within the ruleset or go rogue - Blackhat SEO.
What is “control” for webmasters? Managing explicit factors, not governed by mere happenstance, but rather direct, conscious command, known as Onpage SEO Factors. Affirming the sentiment, search is a mutually agreed upon game, webmasters disseminate information, search engines willfully listen, perspicuously revealing an entwined, synergistic relationship between webmaster and search engine. The agreed language of choice is technical code, metadata, dualistic with natural language, in a concerted effort to deliver hyper-relevant results to the end searcher. Theory vs. reality breaks down the flaw in attributing search results based on factors controlled explicitly by webmasters in this poignant, hypothetical example: 10 dentists in New York all use the same metadata, and onpage content, which one should rank number 1?
Google correctly prognosticated emphasis of 3rd party votes (links back to a website), incontestably apparent by its quondam name, BackRub, precipitating a meteoric rise in search usage, unyielding present-day dominance against any and all search competitors, germane or obscure. Brands, by definition have built-in user bases, and larger marketing budgets, accrued over years, compared to unknown aspirants. Even if brands did nothing other than provide more goods and services offline, the logical conclusion would equate to more brand mentions online in the form of reviews, blogger writeups, website mentions, and social media conversations. Some webmasters felt the exclusionary tactics alienated non-brands, providing the impetus to delve into underhanded search tactics, including a modality of manipulation: link schemes, fake social signals (2 most popular), and bloated websites filled with useless, thin content.
Was it Good For You? User Experience - Back to Where We Began
The evolution of search re-calibrates flaws in relying on limited criteria, mitigating manipulation, leveraging subset factors of On-page SEO, and Off-page SEO (promotional); culminating in an amalgamized algorithm of technical metadata, popularity, and user experience, in aggregate thousands of variables, demarcating true brands from pretenders.
It’s increasingly difficult to fake excellence, which leads to a better search experience for everyone playing by the rules. If a business isn’t verified in Google, positively reviewed, shared on the web by bloggers, or talked about on social media, chances are it’s not a brand. The missing piece has been user metrics and engagement. Leveraging usage data, search engines such as Google have access to Analytics, Chrome, Webmaster Tools, crowdsourcing SEO to determine how often a webpage result is clicked, and whether the experience was good (time spent on website above average), or poor (low time spent on website, high bounce rate).
An archetypal example of humanity based marketing is Dan Anton through Atlanta based SEO agency, where each website traffic visitor is welcomed to a personal 1 on 1 consultation, initiated via video, a high-consumption medium, as Youtube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Rather than rely on 1:many selling, the agency shifts focus back to the individual on the other end of the computer, dramatically increasing time spent on site, and user interactions via consultation request form submissions. Other local agency competitors implement many of the known variables including structured data, proper metadata (both for human and search robots), and relevant service pages, but the most time-consuming aspects of improving search engine rankings have shifted to helpful, relevant user experiences and networking with 3rd party trusted websites. It works in all verticals, every time, as building trust, telling your why story, and value proposition clearly help customers make better informed decisions while consuming media.
Brands, regardless of industry, know humans connect with humans, and today’s quick-wins in SEO typically don’t move the search needle the way they did a decade ago, as non-scalable activities such as customer support and business networking are usurping fly-by-night companies attempting to pose as brands through shortcuts and manipulation.
If your brand and digital promise are living up to your end, then the rankings do follow, and if they don’t immediately, see sagacious advice below:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. - Serenity Prayer
This is not to say adjudicate search engine optimization responsibilities, but also don’t blindly demand more traffic, as an entitlement; webmasters and marketers who align themselves with search engine values and the best interest of their end users will continue to be victorious. As Warren Buffet eloquently stated: ““Time is the friend of the wonderful company, the enemy of the mediocre.”