For some time SEOs, myself included (just ask some of the people who work with me) have been commenting on some not-so-good trends in search results.
Here’s what SEOs have noticed:
- Original content is taking a back seat to re-purposed or scraped content.
- Sites seem to be ranking based on Google’s notion of authority, however they are trying to quantify this through their magic secret formula.
- Pages created to house Adsense seem to get ranked favorably
For all of the press about Google Panda updates and cleaning house on bad content and spammy pages, all sorts of sites and pages are still ranking well. In some cases, they are improved. Although many people want to believe this is a neat and clean solution resulting in neat and clean results, that’s just not the case.
In fact, the changes Google made and continues to make concerning search rank factors , such as back-to-Google searches and other behavior indicators, are making search more of a popularity contest. The original intent of search engines was to provide the best content match to a particular query. So, in this regard, Google is not serving their search “customers”.
Google Search Results: Valuable, Original Content or Popularity Contest?
Instead, Google seems to be picking and choosing winners based on authority and human indicators that can easily be skewed by people’s tendency to be influenced by fads and hype. Fads and hype can be created through media, pop culture and advertisements. So, this means that original, fresh, valuable content that is well matched to a query may suffer. It also means big brands and those with deep pockets can influence search through pop culture, buzz and traditional mass media.
It may be just a coincidence, but all of these changes serve Google’s interest in increasing ad revenue.
Smaller brands and small business needs to be aware of this these trends and be more in tune with their goals and priorities for their business. Then, they need to create content and a plan that reduces these effects on their search results.
Maybe it is a matter of focusing on geographic areas, carving out niches bigger brands can’t serve as well (or they aren’t interested in), or offering valuable content in a new and different way.
In my opinion, Google is not serving search customers as well as they have in the past. They seem to be serving their own interests. Will people prefer an internet popularity contest over the most highly relevant, valuable content? Time will tell. We’ll see how Google plays their hand and if Yahoo, Bing, Blekko or some other search engine makes a move to purposely contrast themselves with Google.