Yesterday, Matt Cutts, Supreme Master of Google Space, Time, and SEO, posted his latest video response to a question that I thought was just priceless.
If you don’t want to play the video, the question was, “When analyzing rankings for highly competitive keywords in our industry, we have found sites not as optimized as ours (on-page), and that have few links, and little content are still ahead of us. What gives? Why are ‘unoptimized’ sites ranking so well?”
Matt provides a perfect and accurate answer to the question, in a technical sense, which I’m not going to copy here, but basically he chalked it up to a variety of unseen factors, like the fact that you can’t see all the links to a competitor’s site using the “link:” variable, etc. etc.
Look, you can get as technical with this answer as you want, but the one thing he really didn’t say in the end (and this isn’t a dig at all) is that maybe that site is just more relevant than hers. Sure, Google uses its algorithm to mimic the way a human would see something as being more relevant than another, but it still comes back to one site being more relevant than another.
You can optimize the daylights out of a site… do everything right, get the content, set the architecture, get the inbound links and still this site is sitting on top of you, probably for a very good reason.
Now, there are a whole host of goofballs that comment on Matt’s posts on YouTube and they all talk about spam and “FAIL!” and all sorts of other crazy, kooky theories like Google was some sort of shadow government. But the truth is, Google doesn’t need to BS you with their answers… the real answers are more complicated than you can imagine.
This is why we always start our relationships with new clients with an SEO audit that looks at their site with best practices in mind for our big three target areas, content, site architecture, and inbound links. Because 99% of the time, you missed something that was pretty basic. Now you have a plan, a strategy for attacking the SEO issues that are right there on the surface, and there’s a great chance it will help you move up the ranks.
But still, we can’t promise anything… and especially that you’re going to overtake your competitor for that one term that really, really bugs you. Any agency that does, it selling you snake oil and you should run away from them with a quickness.
Just please don’t try and make it sound like Google is picking on you… it just sounds pitiful (but that’s for another post).
Don’t forget to go sign up for your free stuff from Amplitude Digital. Right now we have a big list of common triggers that set of email spam/junk filters and we’re working on much more!
– Jeff Ferguson
If you feel like your organic traffic is stuck and can’t figure out what’s holding you back, give us a shout and we’ll take about one of our popular SEO audits that will put you on the right path to search marketing greatness.
Jeff Ferguson is CEO of Amplitude Digital, a strategic consulting firm specializing in Internet marketing, and board member of the Los Angeles chapter of SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization.