In our industry, we often opine two important considerations:
Most significant to the first question is the process of SEO itself; our constant evaluation of how it works, methodology, success stories and failures. We question how the model works so as to effectively optimize a site to show up prominently in results. It could be said some also try to understand that model to take advantage of organic search results but, and bear with me here: those black hat SEOs aren’t the people corrupting the system.
But first, as to “the Question,” I am supposing that we often ask, or are asked, why an SEO even exists. The underlying question asked by executives: how is it that SEO is a job neither marketing nor engineering, web designer nor advertiser? Where does it live? To whom is it accountable? What are your day to day priorities? How do we validate results, set expectations, and measure accomplishments to justify having/keeping the position? Because of those questions and an overwhelming inexperience with SEO, we have some businesses who ignore SEO, some who do it well in house, others do it reasonably well through an agency, while still more skimp and do SEO poorly through a 3rd party. Websites are optimized to differing degrees creating an “imperfect market”
And therein lies the rub.
Google’s algorithm really only works in an efficient market. Think of Google as you might the DOW Jones Industrial Average, an algorithm that tracks the performance of the stocks within its portfolio. What would the Dow reflect if 5 of the companies had ineffective CFOs who are incapable of reporting the company’s finances properly? Their stocks would inaccurately reflect the value of the company and the algorithm would fail to accurately report the results of the portfolio.
Lost how that translates to Google? Think of a SERP, the search results page, as that portfolio: On a given query, Google reports websites based on its algorithm.
– Company results are only an accurate representation of the value of the underlying companies IF the CFO does their job.
– The CFO is responsible for accurately structuring and presenting the content of the business (the website)
Sound like an SEO?
Let me back up a second and give you an example: a Google query for “digital camera” (at the time of this post); the result set is as follows:
- wikipedia (just in case you haven’t been alive for the past 10 years)
- hp.com (nice to see my alma mater is figuring it out – unfortunately, the hpshopping folks are going backwards)
Now, ignore for a moment the result set. Ignore dpreview, which is actually a good site but should they really be first? (and no, that fact doesn’t poke a hole in my supposition). Flickr reports that Nikon and Sony are very popular camera brands, more so than HP. This post isn’t an SEO critique of sites so check these out for yourselves and ask if you can explain why they aren’t showing up prominently in Google; here’s Nikon and if I have to explain Sony’s problem, you are in the wrong line of work.
Bottom line? Google is working in an inefficient market. The CFO’s of Sony and Nikon aren’t doing their job: the structure and presentation of the information Google needs to report them properly fails to accurately represent the value of the businesses.
So who is causing more harm to the efficiency and accuracy of the market? The black hat who is causing their single irrelevant site to steal some traffic to make a quick buck or the relevant, effective, valuable business who isn’t reporting properly? That insignificant business wouldn’t even show up on NASDAQ, hardly an influencer of the overall experience. Sony? (…shoot, a little foresight while writing this and I would have picked an example of a company on the DOW) Well Sony isn’t on the DOW but their failure to show up properly in Google has much more influence just as IBM’s (ah HA!) failure to report business properly would inappropriately shake the DOW.
An SEO is as important as your CFO. (Take that to the next executive who questions your job and have them call me)
Now here’s a fun thought: What happens in inefficient markets?