What Google Wants

Google does not want good content.

I know you’ve been told otherwise. I know that “Google wants good content” is a phrase repeated over and over, often by people who should know better. Unfortunately, it’s simply not true and believing it could be dangerous.

In this post, let’s examine what Google really wants and what that means for you.

Correlation and Causation

Before you start calling me a hypocrite, I’ll admit it right away: yes, I have often talked about the importance of good content for your websites and your marketing in general (and I will continue to do so). In fact, it’s clear to me why people keep saying that Google wants quality content. A quick glance at my own portfolio of websites makes it clear that those sites with low-quality, cheap, outsourced content are not faring as well as those with higher-quality content.

So, what am I on about?

Yep, that's how it works...

We need to remember that correlation does not imply causation. For example, in some areas of the world, there are more human babies born during times when storks are nesting in the same region. In other words, there’s a correlation between the number of storks and the number of babies born. However, we know that this isn’t a case of one thing causing the other. The data is incidental and does not prove that human babies are, in fact, delivered by storks.

Similar correlations are constantly paraded up and down the news media, in their relentless quest to classify all inanimate objects in the world as either causing or preventing cancer. It’s easy to forget then, that just because two things coincide doesn’t mean that one is causing the other.

And so it is with Google and good content. Right now, there is some correlation between low quality, badly written, scraped and spammy content and low rankings. And there is also a correlation between quality content and high rankings. But there are two reasons why it’s important to realize that these are merely correlations, not causations.

Reason Number 1: Robots

Stupid (but adorable) RobotGoogle’s evaluation of the web is based on algorithms. Robots and maths, if you will. There is no way for them to automate the human process of looking at a piece of content and seeing whether that content is “good” or “bad”.

This is a very important thing to keep in mind. Even if Google are getting better and better at separating the chaff from the wheat, quality-wise, they can’t actually detect quality. They always have to find a round-about way to approximate quality.

The original innovation was their PageRank algorithm, which treated external links on pages as “votes” for other pages. This is a round-about way of crowdsourcing the impossible task of evaluating every web-page on the Internet to every website owner on the Internet.

PageRank is still part of what Google do and, along with many, many other signals, it’s now joined by social metrics. The idea behind using social metrics is basically the same as the one behind PageRank: crowdsource every active Internet-user to determine the quality of websites. Google are looking for human signals to help them separate good from bad websites.

The reason I bring up social signals is because they serve as a great example for the correlation/causation issue with quality content: to make social signals more relevant and less easily exploitable, Google take something like “author authority” into account. A tweet from a twitter account with no followers and little activity doesn’t count as much as a tweet from a highly popular, highly active account. If you have a ton of followers, you have more credibility and your tweets carry more weight (and the same principle applies to other platforms).

In some cases, people are popular on social media because they consistently deliver great, valuable content. On the other hand, you can also be a nonsense-spewing celebrity and be wildly popular on twitter an co.

If we understand some of these inner workings, we can see that good, high-quality content, endorsed by links from high-quality websites and reputable social profiles can lead to high rankings. But so can rubbish content, endorsed by hordes of fans and social media celebs. Some people are famous for being famous. Some websites continue being popular because they’re popular. Quality doesn’t always enter the equation.

Reason Number 2: Money

Here’s the bigger reason why “Google wants quality content” is simply not true: Google wants more money for Google. Period. That’s the purpose of the company: to generate more revenue and more profit for itself, without breaking too many laws, or at least not all at once.

This is the driving factor behind everything that Google does. Of course we all know the argument that follows: “Google wants to show good, relevant content because that’s what keeps the search engine users happy, which is what makes Google so popular, which is how they make more money.”

Sounds reasonable enough and it’s even partially true. As long as showing quality content helps Google, there’s hope for people who create good content. But what if they decide that showing mediocre content from big brands is more beneficial to their bottom line? What if Google keep pushing organic search results further below the fold and fill up as much of the results page as possible with ads and links to Google-owned sites and services or Google partners? What if they start scraping the web to display information directly in the search results, instead of sending users to a website?

At the end of the day, Google don’t care one bit about the quality of your content. You can have the best content in the world and you can have worked harder for it than anyone else, but if there happens to be more money for Google in not showing your content in the results than in showing it, guess what they’ll do?

Time to Panic?

This is not a “end of SEO” post. It’s also not a post trying to scare you or spread panic.

If you realize that Google (the search engine) is driven by algorithms and you understand some of them, you will be able to make better decisions than if you think “Google wants quality content”. “Good content” is a fuzzy concept. Social signals, links, user engagement metrics and content optimization are concrete and real and they are where real results come from.

If you realize that Google (the company) is driven by a pursuit of increased profits, you’ll be in for fewer nasty surprises in the future and perhaps you’ll see why I’m making such a fuss about the New Traffic Paradigm, lately. And of course I continue to advocate creating good, valuable content. But you do that for people and for your brand, not for a search engine (remember: traffic is people!).

Sometimes, the buzzwords and the simple-but-fuzzy concepts are as popular as they are misleading. Seeing things as they really are will help you and your business and that’s why I wrote this post.

Do you agree? Disagree? What does Google really want, in your own experience?

Shane's Signature

Image credit for the silly robot.

About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Very interesting and completely true its sad to say. Google is evil, they break laws every day and have done many questionable things in the past (the latest being the Chrome privacy fiasco)

    I guess it would be interesting to see if article rewriting will be a feasible way of creating good content. I mean if the bigs sites are going to rank top no matter what (because its in googles interest to do so) whats stopping me from just getting a bunch of their most popular articles (stuff i know users already like and have socially shared) rewriting it and adding my only little insight to the subject and then filling up my website with this content. Certainly would save me hours researching and pretty much anyone with a decent grasp of English can rewrite an article making it unique in googles (bots) eyes

    • Shane says:

      My best guess is that article re-writing will not last, because while it might please or trick Google, it will probably be an issue in terms of user experience and branding.

      On the other hand, I’ve always been an advocate of “do what works, while it works”.

    • James says:

      Yep yep yep… all true and I wont get started on one of my google rants here :)

      and in many ways being the full-hat spectrum wearer that I am i am very glad of this fact still because it means the content i use to LINK with doesn’t have to be quality at all… sorry if that bothers so people who subscribe to the ‘its evil to spread the web, and even poor google’s resources for indexing, with crap content (yeah like i am concerned about google’s resources, lol – but i’ve heard this one plenty!) – and frankly that crap content isn’t going to or trying to rank so who cares…’ – well i’m not about to get 20 dollar articles written to get the backlinks i need to be in this game when i can get them for 3$ or free with other methods – which if you understand the way to use ‘the different spectrum of hat shades’ – and where each should sit in your setup… yes knowing google’s algo (and matt cutts even had a video i saw acknowledging that no they don’t factor or can’t factor ‘writing quality’ into their indexing)… so knowing this and keeping it in mind for the exact logical reasons Shane outlines is vital when planning large ranking campaigns. Now of course on your ranked sites for PEOPLE – of course good great amazing content is what you want!! here is the essential white hat end of that spectrum in it’s proper place!

      But on the question of rewriting – I do this constantly – i will write quality articles myself when i can – and get say 10 unique rewrites of them… and YES they rank even on page one against each other just fine. Now i dont get writers to rewrite sentence by sentence, just the opposite – i ask to take creative freedom to rewrite and rearrange to some degree… (unless i am rewriting for a complex quality spin situation which is a different kettle of fish).

      But – when it comes to backlinks – and the content for it – getting rewrites of existing articles (whether you morally are incensed at the idea of plagiarism, well, sorry – people do it to my content too)…
      is the best way i know of to actually get pretty good quality for the least money – and i have writers and have had writers doing nothing but rewriting articles i send them – both mine, from my better writers, and YEP straight masses of scraped content as well… nonstop and have been for last 2 years. Never have i seen any issue with this as far as google somehow detecting that it is the same premise as the original or something and no valuing it as much.

      The comparison to be made of course is to spinning articles – where i do definitely feel (though i use spinning plenty) that algorithms can and do have the ability to see what to people are subtle patterns even in extremely well spun content (where i mean many variations and multilevel nested spins etc – which is frankly the only way you should be spinning anyways). So having rewrites in my book and experience is always going to result in something much stronger than the alternatives…

      and honestly if you arent asking for rewrites outright and proving the material to rewrite – unless you are paying for higher cost articles i promise you that what your getting is a rewrite anyway and probably a less relevant crappier one than if i direct the process…

      specifically with “I mean if the bigs sites are going to rank top no matter what (because its in googles interest to do so) whats stopping me from just getting a bunch of their most popular articles (stuff i know users already like and have socially shared) rewriting it and adding my only little insight to the subject and then filling up my website with this content. ”

      I do it all the time… nothing is stopping you, it works great.
      Though i do with my competition more than say, ehow – though i have some nice scrapers for those big boy sites too … no moral issues in my book using and abusing their content however i like.

      • great insight, thanks for the reply

        i have been trying this with a technology news blog and basically had it set up so i would have my writer search for my keyphrase on news.google.com to find the latest articles. It has worked well because i get constant, unique content for my blog.

        I noticed that all the major tech blogs all do the same thing, they all report on the same story and just add their own spin to it.

        so in a way they are just rewriting the news story and this is pretty much what reporting news is, rewriting something form another source.

      • Martin J. Hammer says:

        Nice insight, and useful.

        But then again, we all stand at the shoulder of giants. We can’t help but repeat what has been said before.

        AND it can actually be good, not just for google and traffic. It’s good because sometimes one persons spin, is more interesting and authentic for you than another persons. I have read the same story many times, but some people just tell it better for my taste.

        A good story can’t be told too many times, as long as it’s told well. And if you give a unique quality (consice, funny, simple, in-depth) that is even better.

        Thanks for your comments, they where just as interesting as the post (that was a positive thing and not a diss against anyone).

  • Artur says:

    So are you saying that babies don’t come from storks?


    Google says ‘do no evil’ but to whom? They can’t be constantly increasing profit without hurting someone. No profit and they are evil to themselves, increase profit and they are evil to affiliates. I’m grateful they are there, evil or not. Can you imagine being able to work from anywhere – beach house, beach, old condo in a basement, coffee shop… 15 years ago?

    We just need to roll with them and adjust our strategy as they adjust their business model.

    • Shane says:

      “So are you saying that babies don’t come from storks?”

      Hate to be the one to break it to you…


  • Andrew says:

    Hi Shane,
    Yes, I totally agree with you. It really is annoying when you get a top organic ranking and adwords appear on top of your listing!!! All that work to be beaten by some dim witt with a bit of cash for PPC. Adwords is a crime! I just logged into a new clients account the other day and the guy has spent over £3000 on adwords. His keywords were 115 and only 5 were relevant, so I reduced them to 5 and now hes getting better qualified traffic and google are getting less money from him HAHAHAHAHA! F U Google!!!!! There must be millions of clueless business owners bidding on keywords that are totally irrelevant! Shane I also heard recently that google hates links now? Surely this is BS?
    Finally Shane I submitted a Votbox question about the google command Link:yordomainname did you get it? I keep looking and the votebox questions show from like 30 days + and the last time I used it, it was posted within 24 hours?

    • Shane says:

      “Google hates links” is definitely BS.

      At the very least, it’s an over-simplification. There’s some concern about negative SEO starting to happen, which would mean that there are links that would actually lower your rankings or put your site at risk of being de-indexed.

      Not sure where they’re going with that.

      • Doug says:

        “There’s some concern about negative SEO starting to happen, which would mean that there are links that would actually lower your rankings or put your site at risk of being de-indexed.”

        Does that mean I can get rid of the competition by buying them some ‘bad links’?

      • Shane says:

        Right now, it looks like it, yes. Negative SEO services have already started popping up…

  • SteveWyman says:

    Hi Shane

    A nicely balanced set of arguments. I to bleieve that understanding the algorithm is still a better idea than listening to Matt cutts pronouncements. He has a job to do and I highly respect him. But listening to him is like listening to the police about speeding. Yes ignore and there MIGHT be a consequence :-) on the othe rhand you might get to your destination faster if you dont listen to all the advice.

    Google is not evil dudes. If you break the clearly laid out rules you may get into trouble get over it. If you dont know the rules learn them. We all have site staht dont rank for no apparant reason thats not google being evil!

    One difference Shane. Google DOES want great content on our sites as that will make users happier and then they will use google more.

    More users on google.com means more advertisers and more money. Why is that evil! We all want to make money online dont we! I for one do so lets just get on with it.


    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment, Steve!

      You’re right. However, more Google users might not always coincide with Google “rewarding” good content. On the surface level “good content = good for SEO” is true. But there’s more to the matter, hidden below the surface.

  • Bill says:

    “Similar correlations are constantly paraded up and down the news media, in their relentless quest to classify all inanimate objects in the world as either causing or preventing cancer. It’s easy to forget then, that just because two things coincide doesn’t mean that one is causing the other.”

    This is without a doubt EASILY one of the smartest things I’ve ever read in a blog. I stopped reading right there to post this. Now I’ll go back and finish but thank God and thank you for having common sense.

    • Nicky says:

      Hi Shane,

      Great article and alot of insight especially if you combine it with this article: http://activegrowth.com/new-traffic-paradigm/. I agree with Bill that making more money is not evil. Google created an economy and is allowed to change te rules because its their economy.

      But i can relate to the story of the social value of an article and the real quality of it. The true quality is in the eye of the beholder. The masses determines everything. So this also indicates that using social media to spreadt your content will increase the (perceived) value of your site. Great site and I love all the insight i read here. Keep up the good work!

      • Shane says:

        Yes, I agree that Google aren’t particularly evil. Certainly not compared to other mega-corporations.

    • Shane says:

      Hi Bill,

      Oh, how I wish I could take credit for that!
      Unfortunately, I can’t. The sentence in question is based on a quote by the brilliant Ben Goldacre (who’s book “Bad Science” I highly recommend).

  • Luis says:


  • William Hanley says:

    I usually keep my opinions to myself and read the comments here for fun. But I thought for once I would chime in as an “old-timer”. I will start off by saying I AM “old-school” but I do pay attention to smart people so I frequent this blog.

    Your article has an interesting premise Shane, but I think your premise is wrong. The premise being that Google is something one should or needs to care about at all. This whole consideration of Google or ANY business entity having control or influence over my business success online is something I have and will NEVER even consider.

    When I created my first money making web site in 1996. I wasn’t concerned with Google or any search engine as it didn’t matter. Google was just a thought in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s heads. I didn’t have a Google so I didn’t use it. I still don’t.

    I built web sites and online businesses by marketing to a group of people who were interested in what I had to sell. I provided, and still do, real value to a market that wanted what I had to sell. People call that a “tribe” today – I call them my customers. Loyal customers who know I care about them more than I do about making a buck. I build and still do beautiful web sites brimming with helpful content that people want to read. I know that as they tell me so.

    Now the web was different 15 years ago, web sites were easier to build with HTML. But the exact same business and marketing principles that worked in ’96 STILL work today. You provide something that someone wants, or they THINK they want and you market it. The latter techniques have changed in the last 15 years but the former has not. I still market in much the same way I did 15 years ago. Meeting a need, want or desire, for the exchange of coin has been going on for a long time and will continue long past the time when Google is just a distant memory.

    The fact is and yes it is a FACT is that I use the same basic marketing principles to launch a new web site today that I used in 1996. It was a money maker then and the sites I make today are also. The fact is that it still works today – marketing and connecting with people. The fact is you don’t need Google or any search engine. You need a great product, you need people who want that product and you need good marketing skills – which anyone can learn – IF you want. But that IF is a big IF.

    Quite a few today from what I see don’t want to learn. They would rather look for a quick fix -a technological solution and from what I observe some end up wasting their time. They end up fighting over table scraps that the company drops from their table instead of eating at the table. It seems to me that they are starving to death with a loaf of bread in both hands.

    I think it is time to stop worrying about Google and start thinking about bringing some value to the market place with a product that people need and want.

    Just my opinion and I know opinions are like noses – everyone owns one and everyone blows one. But I am making good money today using the same principles I did 15 years ago. I am living proof it still works. And you can take that to the bank. I do so all the time. Just something to consider. . . from a old gray haired guy. Thank you for your time.

    • Shane says:

      Hi William,

      Thank you very much for this comment!
      You are absolutely right. The fundamental principles of marketing have not changed. They have not changed because they are about humans and human psychology, not about technology. And that’s why they still work and why they will last.

      Thanks for making this point so well.

  • Fran Civile says:

    Thanks for today’s post Shane, I really like your common sense suggestions and conclusions! That’s why I’ll continue reading everything you write long after I’ve unsubscribed from most everything else.

    I’m looking forward to Saturday’s webinar!


  • Doug says:

    Before search engines, you brought in customers by advertising and word of mouth. You kept them by giving them what they wanted so they would keep coming back. If they liked what you had, they would tell their friends and your business thrived.

    Along came search engines and people used them as a cheap form of advertising. It worked so well, marketers started to ignore real advertising and word of mouth to concentrate on this great new way to get customers. In fact, it was so easy you could put up loads of sites and just live off the first time visitors.

    People started developing ways to trick the search engines into listing their content higher and higher in the results. They started building shortcuts to this new tool. Then they built shortcuts to the shortcuts. The harder people worked at this the more expensive (in time, money or both) it became. Since their sites weren’t built to hang on to their customers (or gain more customers through word of mouth), they had to keep upping the commitment to their SEO strategy.

    Looks like it is time to go back to the old ways. Getting customers through paid advertising is cheap if you can retain them. Time spent in social circles is productive if you gain a loyal following. Neither pays off very well if you only get one time visitors with your efforts.

  • Uwe says:

    I think that the WEB 2.0 thing changed the importance of quality content.

    The general assumption that the results for a search phrase with relevant content please the people searching was BEFORE WEB 2.0 logical.

    All Google needed was the means to (accurately) recognize relevance between search term and content. They bought off quite a few companies that helped them with that task and their ultimate goal (higher level of “understanding” the actual content). In the end it is less time consuming just analyzing relevance than also trying to make a decision on content quality.

    Relevance was/is important and if G does not deliver, then people might go to a alternate SE. Google can not risk that.

    If they are doing their job (detecting relevance) right, then the user isn’t coming back to click on the next URL because of irrelevance, but because the content had no quality (supplied no answer). In instances of research, the time gone by between clicking on the next URL can be used as a quality signal….

    AFTER WEB 2.0 the rules changed a bit as far as quality and perhaps even relevance are concerned. POPULARITY seems to play a more important role today.

    Entrance “social votes” – let the users do the hard work of ranking pages/sites. Google just looks out that nobody can cheat their way onto Page 1 of the search results anymore.

    So what does BIG G want? Profits, BIG clients and happy users of course (and in that order)!

    In the end – if the “social votes” get used for rubbish sites/pages, well, then we will have rubbish on the search results pages – it’s as simple as that ;(.

    That G has its own interests in showing specific sites in the search results is clear; and they will continue to do WHATEVER it takes to make themselves, their big clients and their users happy.

    Happy Eastern

  • dave says:

    One of the most clear headed SEO articles I’ve read in a while. Looking forward to the webinar Saturday. The point I like is that Google is only doing what corporations are supposed to do. Talking about them being unfair, evil/not evil is beside the point. The solution is to give them what they want, and you’re right – sometimes it is not good content.

    I would add that going forward, maximizing traffic from non-Google sources is wise. They are making mistakes since Larry took over. In 5 years we may see them as Yahoo #2.

  • art says:

    Your “traffic paradigm” causes an issue with affiliates. how will those individuals who dont want to build a brand and instead want to promote others brands succeed?Art

    • Shane says:

      Being an affiliate doesn’t force you to be brand-less. For example, you could create a niche review site (probably the most common type of affiliate site), but instead of just putting up some anonymous articles with your affiliate links, you can go a few steps further. You can become a trusted reviewer. You can create an affiliate site that’s worth re-visiting.

      Another example is RetailMeNot and other coupon sites. They don’t have their own product, they barely have any content and they are nothing but affiliates. However, some coupon sites have become trusted brands, because of the way they do business and the way they present themselves.

      I really don’t think that the New Traffic Paradigm and affiliate marketing are mutually exclusive at all. :)

      • Moons says:


        I just wanted to let you know that Google owns Retailmenot. Actually it’s Google ventures.

        I see them ranking everywhere above all coupon websites for all the queries.

        You can check it here http://www.googleventures.com/companies

  • Eric says:

    Can’t agree too much. Shane!

    What google really want is to make their user happy and seek money from it. If users like “crap content” one day, I guess google will tell “crap content is good” too.


  • Rob says:

    Google simply asks “how can we make money from this query” and filters out the non-profitable sites from there. I searched for greyhound the other day looking for dog info but i got greyhound bus info instead. I liken google now to a directory at a shopping mall you physically visit. It only shows brands. Thx Shane for your insight on all this madness.

  • Jim says:


    I like another reader have been around this game for a while, since 1994 in fact and I remember when there was no Google.

    Google gained the position they are in for one reason and one reason only. They provided better search results than anyone else.

    I will agree with you that they are very focused on making more money but I doubt very seriously that they will risk killing the goose that has been laying golden eggs.

    If the quality of their results starts to slip, so too will their market share and their traffic.


  • Thesis Best says:

    Hi Shane,

    Very interesting and thought provoking. We are lead to believe that quality attracts traffic but this is unfortunately not true. On youtube there are people who only make funny noises and cuss word blurts who have millions of views. The TV broadcasting over several decades has improved the quality of image and sound; regarding content IMHO it hasn’t done much.

    People are driven by their emotions, search engine bots are not. You are absolute right when you point out that Google will rank sites to their best interest, which may not necessarily be the same as ours.

    My gut feeling is that Google will continue to make ranking difficult for the masses. We often say organic traffic is free. Actually it is not. As soon as there is a free service that is worthwhile, it is overused and looses its effectiveness. So we go for payed services and even those get wiped out by some Panda change. The end game from Google’s perspective could be very simply: If you want traffic from Google you pay Google. Period.

    Which makes me wonder if there is a benchmark like this. How much does it cost today’s post Panda world, to set up a site and rank it to get traffic versus setting up the same site without any SEO effort and buying traffic from Google? From a pure business perspective, I would prefer the lower cost.

    But maybe we’re not in this game just for the money?

  • Mexico says:

    Great article guys!

    I have to believe that what what really makes good seo is more than than just any one thing.

    Google has some of the best code writers in the world writing algorithms.

    This is just my opinion because really anything anyone says is just opinion…unless you are part of the code writing team.

    Basic SEO still matters…Time on page, amount of visitors, bounce rate, keyword density.

    Advanced SEO-One way links that think to your site or page…balance of follow and no follow links as well as anchor text and relevance of the websites linking.

    Panda SEO-“SOCIAL BUZZ” that a site is currently having and how natural is this buzz.

    Is this buzz coming from only one place or site with one anchor text used over and over again…that is not natural and will get you penalized.

    Do all of your links come from comments sections of blogs with the same anchor text being used in 10,000 blog comments? Then you probably have been paying for links or are using some form of automation for those links and google will sandbox all those links for 6 month to a year if they count them at all.

    Google main goal right now is to determine what is “naturally” happening so that they can pull the most relevant content to what you search for without allowing “spammers” to game the system. Then make money when people use their search engine and people click on relevant ads in those search queries. There goal is to make sure that their search queries have the most relevant result so that we keep using them to search in.

    They also want to trust the results that they are giving so there has to be some type of trust factor in the sites that they display

    This is why new small sites are being eaten up and pushed out of the way by lager more content rich sites.

    Create a good user experience in a highly content rich site that creates topic specific pages that has a wide verity of basic, advanced and panda seo practices and you to can be on the 1st page for google….oh yeah get some video on your pages also.

    Mexico (shameless Keyword Plug)

  • Zab Judah says:

    I used to work for one of the biggest outdoor clothing and equipment retailers in Europe doing SEO for them. Companies that big, you might think, have the resources to trample on the little guys, but they just don’t have the time or staff to cover much in detail.

    So even if they are selling hiking boots, in the thousands, you can still outrank them on the long tail if you provide enough detailed information for example on a specific type of boot. When I worked for this company, we were always being out ranked by comments on forums, hubpages and individual sites.

    Eve got understand the logistics of huge corporations trying to answer every question on the planet! It’s a ridiculous proposition. They carry too many products and services the be able to employ that amount of people writing for them constantly. It’s much easier for them the results are paid search results, and this on the whole is what they do. I wouldn’t worry about these corporations taking overall the results because they don’t have all the answers. In fact I have very few answers.

    The other thing to bear in mind is something that Shane has been talking about, which is your brand. I am no fan of the big make money online gurus, but one thing they do have in common is a tendency not to rely at all on search results, the rather concentrate their efforts on list building. A list can be built overnight with the right partnerships or done over time in a more methodical way through blogging and article writing. Anybody serious about making money online through affiliate marketing and building a brand selling their own products or services has to have a list. It is you then going to people rather that you begging for Google to send them to you!

    I actually believe that SEO has become a lot easier, but the name needs to change because it’s not all about search engines any more getting you the traffic. Social media is made is a lot easier to get instant traffic. The other night I had a competition with my youngest son to see who could get the most Twitter followers in a couple of hours. We got several hundred each and managed to send them to a site. People just need to be more creative and stop worrying so much about one big monolithic corporation like Google. Google are on the run themselves away from search as their primary vehicle. That’s why they’re venturing into games and Google plus.

    The recent blog network de-indexing just proved that the algorithm has not really been changed that much. In fact it hasn’t changed at all in regards to links particularly, because build my rank was actually taken down manually not through some algorithmic alteration. BMR just exposed themselves to this sort of attack, probably by Google employees joining the network and seeing where the links were hidden. It would be difficult to do if you submitted a few massive CSV files to the network every day. Within a couple weeks you’d know where most of the sites were located. Or maybe BMR had many of their sites on the same analytics accounts. However they were exposed, does not really matter because the algorithm did not do it. Correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    I know from my own experience, you don’t have to do as much SEO as is commonly accepted to rank well. Ranking itself is a bit of a con game for SEO companies. What he ranking for? What keywords? Who cares? Trophy keywords are probably a waste of time in terms of the effort it takes to be specific in a linking campaign. Any decent posts that I’ve done over 1500 words tend to get traffic. Quite a lot of in some instances for a blog post that may have only taken me 15 min to dictate using voice recognition software. Who cares where I rank? My objective his traffic. I have pages on some websites that rank absolutely nowhere when I look for them in a Google search for the main title keyword, but still get me thousands of visitors per month!

    Keyword research is okay but it’s an obsession for some people that actually stops getting on producing stuff whether that these links or content for their own sites. When people set out to write books they do some market research but that doesn’t dictate every single sentence they write. If you take a look at search results nowadays, they are often based on the general theme of the page rather than a specific phrase, unless you specify that with the phrase quote search, which hardly anybody outside of Internet marketing and Seo does.

    The obsession with keyword research and ranking positions in Google has gone into everybody, even those who know almost nothing about Seo. I had a company approach me recently for Seo work that were obsessed with a local-based keyword and ranking for it. My approach is to be fairly honest and explain the traffic that they could get even if they were in the number one spot. It turns out that it was under 22 searches per month! They just had the misconception that if they were “number one in Google”then all their dreams would be realised. Sadly, a lot of Internet marketers are just like this, and they should learn to grow up and go after the traffic rather than the rankings. And when I say traffic, I mean traffic you can be in control of yourself through e-mail lists and social networking, as well as search results.

    The number one reason we are all on this particular website, I think is because Shane is a beacon of honesty in a very corrupt marketplace. Of course he wants to make some money off us that the way goes about it I think has integrity which is what makes him a good brand. Guys like Matt Carter also fall into this category for me. The Frank Kerns contagious a lot but I don’t trust the guy as far as I can throw him! He’s probably a really nice guy is just that he seems to chart a heck of a lot for an e-book. I draw the line at $47, not $1997!

    I’m looking forward to your webinar Shane. Good luck.

  • Great post Shane! I have just recently got back into building Google Adsense sites and what I believe has much to do with the simple fact you pointed out, Google does everything they do to make Google money, thus I try to write my posts to be informative yet lacking in many respects. In this way I can hit all of the on page SEO and have a great chance at easy rankings (thanks to getting those keywords from what I feel is the best keyword tool, SE Cockpit)yet still coax people into more clicks while still staying legal by not asking for them or worrying about breaking rules by tricky ad placements.

    It was around the time of Panda that this approach sort of dawned on me and it was Panda proof and I see no reason that it won’t prove to make it through these latest changes either. In other words I feel Google will still base it’s biggest metrics on what sites make them the most money on a given keyword.

  • David Moceri says:

    I completely agree with what Shane has said here. Most people relate needing good content to “That’s What Google Wants” when that is just not true but it should be what YOU want for all the reasons explained above. ENGAGEMENT, ACTIVITY & INTERACTION can never be replaced!

    What is even more important is that we stay ahead of the curve and I am not talking about now or next month. I am talking about at least a year in advance. So WE are never playing the scrambling game and panicking about our sites and/or clients sites! The writing is always on the wall and most of us don’t see it because its NOT spelled out for us!

    Well, I am going to make a prediction now for all those that think that they will always be ok to write crap because Google can’t tell. This is going to change WITHOUT doubt because everything always has to change and evolve. Google will figure out a way to start deciphering the difference of content with a integrated algorithm system very similar to Page Rank if you will but for content. This tied to activity and brand recognition will be another separation factor that will have most falling to their knees.

    I was speaking to Matt Cutts at an event in San Francisco and he said something that stood out to me but none of the other 2 people didn’t catch it because they were not SEO people but instead from the auto industry. They asked about content favoritism from large brands and how can small start up companies compete? The questions was “If large companies can continue to write content on a level that a smaller business couldn’t and the media could continue to regurgitate that information continuing to build their brand and most of the media won’t give smaller companies the same spotlight; what should they do?”

    Matt’s response was continue to build your brand every way you can to get in that spotlight as they had to at one time. Right now we have NO way of grading content; YET! That’s why social signals are critical for not only small business but all business. He then added “Again we have no way for it YET but that could change” He then smiled and said he had to go and walked away!

    Everyone can take what they want from that but I take that its only a matter of time before they will have something in place and everything they are doing NOW is setting the course for it. There is a reason why social signals are critical and they continue to say don’t do something that you wouldn’t want to share with others or show others. If they can index links, track activity and social signals do NOT think they can’t evaluate the content on those links because they will and I believe its already happening.

    I believe they are right now accumulating content and comparing it to content across the web as well as comparing habits or footprints if you will to look for patterns. If they continue to see those same patterns that are associated to links going to the same sites they will solve what has NOT been solved yet. If you are someone that was crippled or hurt by losing links because sites where deindexed wait to the day they figure out how to rate content from patterns. See the links you lost from deindexing only hurt you if you didn’t have a variety of links building strategies in place. The sites linking to you; well they are the ones that took the huge hits minus us losing links and placement in some cases but when they figure out the pattern of your crappy content YOU ARE DONE! You will not be able to fix the mess you created quite as easy as getting more links to replace the ones we just loss.

    Your BRAND, INTEGRITY & MESSAGE will be diminished so badly that returning from it will be close to impossible. If your someone that is buying articles for 3 bucks to FREE you really need to evaluate what the heck you are doing! Success and buying articles for 3 bucks don’t go hand in hand. Successful people don’t associate 3.00 articles as a successful thing for them to do.

    I hope everyone understands what I mean. There is a reason why you have to pay for cheap articles; What is your reason? People stay ahead of the curve NOT for today but for years to come or Die Trying! RAISE YOUR GAME! Because there are people like myself who will continue to separate themselves from others that DON’T!

    I hope that the messages, posts and videos Shane has been sending us lately is getting through because what I am getting from it is Shane is telling us the same thing. Raise Our Game! I am someone that currently has over 120 personal active paying clients and also is fulfilling for numerous partners making my client management on a monthly level over 200 clients. 9 clients a day 6 days a week in production. I too at one time paid for cheap articles but it reflected bad on me even though my clients had first page rankings but when I wanted the best for my work and my clients so paying $10.00 to $20.00 an article became the standard and my business exploded for it.

    If you look like a slob you probably are! I know the people following Shane understand the importance of what he is sharing but might not know how to implement it. Trust me if you want it bad enough you will solve it. Even when things are bad we are so blessed and we need to remember that. LETS RAISE OUR GAME!

    Please don’t take anything I said as rude or arrogant because that is not what I am trying to send or say. I genuinely want us all to succeed that’s why I took the time to put this long message together!

  • Berkin says:

    All good points as always Shane.

    Here’s my 2 cents on quality content though:

    Most people seem to believe that quality content means a gazillion of words. After every major G update, the bar seems to go higher and higher. Last year it was 300-500 words, now it’s about 1,000+.

    Now I’m not saying that long content is bad; a cleverly written article can pull traffic from many long tail keywords, etc.

    But the truth of the matter is that most of the time (at least in 80% of the searches imo), people do not read long posts!

    What the users want is instant gratification. If they want an answer, they want it now! If they need a piece of information, they want to have it the moment they land on your page. Not after sifting through 1,500+ words.

    So, logic dictates that the highest possible quality can be provided by providing users and visitors with exactly what they want.

    So the key is to think about what a user would want when typing a key phrase. E.g not what can I write about the keyword, but what the searcher needs to see when they land on my page through that keyword.

    • Shane says:

      Very good points!

      What you say about content length is spot on. It’s not about how many words you can accumulate, it’s about how immediately you can serve up what the visitor is looking for.

      Even with long content, which has its merits, it pays to write a good headline and good opening paragraph, so that you quickly communicate that you have the answer the visitor is looking for. Once you have that initial attention, you can expand and go into more detail.

      • Berkin says:

        Yes Shane, long content definitely has its’ merits and place. I just got tired of seeing countless comments/threads spreading false ideas on “quality content” as if they were proven facts and wanted to get this out of my chest :)

        After all, when a person is looking for “the best blue widget”, he/she is simply looking for the best widget, not the freaking history of blue widgets, the difference between red and blue widgets, etc.

  • Being successful on the internet is not focusing on Google. If you consider all the traffic sources possible, Google is a small slice of the pie.

    Often, being successful on Google can be easily achieved by ignoring Google entirely, and focusing on driving traffic from everywhere else on the internet.

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