PPC and organic search alike serve classic functions in the marketing mix. However Google is effectually forcing many advertisers into buying more AdWords PPC by systematically setting out to neuter SEOs, who are increasingly going underground.
We all know Google’s been eviscerating organic paid link-building tactics which historically have been a vital component of attaining prominence in natural (unpaid) search results. Let’s take a closer look at how Google’s organic linking policies are as much about selling AdWord as preventing spam.
Though aspects of Google’s paid link guidelines seem inherently unfair to some, give Google credit. This may be one of the most successful corporate profit-strategies in marketing history. AdWords is the center of what is becoming the primary dashboard for global media placement. It’s not in Google’s best interest to allow SEOs to influence organic SERPs with paid link-building, no matter how holistic.
Marketers are forced to buy AdWords because Google promotes anarchy’s unpredictability in the organic linking universe. The strategy is obvious and flat-out brilliant: If you want to be guaranteed that customers see your sales pitch, Google wants you to depend on paying them for AdWords.
Sacred SERPs, Huge Profit
In the holy name of relevant organic SERPs, Google’s apparent model is to hold your business hostage with an unveiled threat: attempt to influence Google SERPS by any financial method but Google AdWords PPC and they’ll kill you. It’s such an insidious strategy because no reasonable person could ever argue against their stated intent of offering users ever-more relevant SERPs.
Of course relevant SERPs are crucial and no one argues that point. However Google’s intertwined objective is to ship massive buckets of money home to shareholders. This does not make them bad. If you own Google stock you’ve invested in one of the most amazing companies ever. If you want to market anything without spending oodles on AdWords PPC, making huge investments in universal search or going underground to build links then you’re totally screwed. It’s the perfect business plan.
The Company Line
Matt Cutts, Google’s affable anti-spam ambassador describes links “likely to stand the test of time” (read “survive Google handcheck “) as those links that “are typically given voluntarily. It is an editorial link by someone, and it’s someone that’s informed. They are not misinformed, they are not tricked; there is no bait and switch involved. It’s because somebody thinks that something is so cool, so useful, or so helpful that they want to make little sign posts so that other people on the web can find that out.”
Wake up people! The entire professional marketing universe has always included one party spending money to gain someone else’s “voluntary recommendation.” It is not “bait and switch” for marketers to approach a local business partner or community member and ask that they accept valuable consideration (read cash & schwag) to recommend a client’s product with one of Mr. Matt’s “little sign post” links. It’s always been the way of the world.
Call it what it is: Google would just rather we all write checks to Google for THEIR little paid signpost program-AdWords. How funny is that! What the hell do you think AdWords is anyway?…moderately vetted PAID prominence that anyone can buy- if not completely game.
Whilst Google’s motivation is ostensibly centered on cleaning up a flawed system of reputation and recommendations with relevance as the primary objective, ultimately their jihad is about profit. Fear not! Only advertisers who are not socially adept and/or without classic business acumen will be fully frustrated. Everyone else will do what it takes in the boardroom, on the golf course, over 6 course meals with wine and at all expense paid weekends in the Catskills for A-list bloggers.
Now that Google has neutered many SEOs, some of the walking wounded follow like sheep and still others more brazen have taken link-building underground and offline. As expert after expert professed @ SMX Advanced, “all the old stuff still works.”
Google’s terms of services (though notably holistic on their face) are impossible to enforce, hypocritical within themselves and won’t succeed in shutting off the time-tested art of businesses procuring paid recommendations…not unless they join business folks at Chamber of Commerce meetings where they barter for links or on cruises on the intra coastal.
Don’t Mess With Big Brother
Finally, there’s been some high-profile buzz about the danger of expressing anti-Google-guidelines thinking in public and I’d hate to think the anecdotes are true. Maybe it is I who is Pollyanna after all, because I’d truly like to believe that Google is not evil.
That said we’ll be watching the PageRank of aimClear Blog (& the few sites we’ve let remain in our agency Webmaster Central account) to see if Google sends us a signal of some sort as a result of the SMX “Give it Up” session I participated in or recent posts. I’d like to take this opportunity to invite Matt Cutts for an interview in the future. Our conversation @ the SEOmoz party in Seattle was all too brief.