In the wake of Google’s global rollout of algorithm changes aimed to improve search results and decrease the appearances of web-spamming content, there has been a lot written in the press recently about “search villains,” those marketers that figured out a way to cheat the system and covertly improve their Google rank with black hat link-building tricks.
Widespread press coverage of these villains has generated public awareness; in response to public outcry against content spam and in a move to protect the integrity of the service they provide to the world, Google has built a better mousetrap.
One of the brands recently vilified in press reports has been JC Penney. When marketers read these stories – showcasing that even leading brands can misstep and make mistakes – the more gun-shy among them become afraid of natural search and content marketing. That hesitation makes the opportunity bigger than ever for those that seek to market through search. Search has become the primary means of information discovery in the US, with more than 16 billion searches being run on a monthly basis – and more than $17 billion being spent annually to reach those searchers. The spoils for the winners of the “search wars” are truly gargantuan.
Marketers are asking if it is possible to win the game without cheating, or to have a sustainable search strategy. Is there a way to win this game? Not only is there a way to win – there is a Google-endorsed way to win. As Hiawatha Bray points out in his article in the Boston Globe, Google likes companies that create quality content that answers consumer questions. Google is working to help that content rise to the top.
Google’s stated mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Because most content farms create content that does not create value for the consumer, they run counter to Google’s primary aim. As search villain masters continue to take a fall, brands that create value for the searching consumer will win in increasingly big ways. And they’ll do it the old fashioned way – by playing by the rules.