You know, every time there is an algorithm update, whether confirmed or not, there is a lot of speculation and theorising about Google search.
Besides the typical ‘SEO is dead’ type of rhetoric that tends to follow algo updates, one thing I often see is a hell of a lot of entitlement.
There’s an entitlement around the traffic one receives from search, and specifically, from Google search.
Marketers tend to forget that traffic from search engines is borrowed users.
What do I mean by borrowed users…?
As I like to say, SEO is for users, not search engines.
We acquire users via search engines but we don’t market to search engines.
This isn’t just a play on words, I think every marketer should have this notion in mind because it’ll help them focus on what’s important – users, not search engines.
Traffic acquisition, that’s not direct, is borrowed.
Acquiring traffic via Google search is borrowing the users of Google.
The users of Google know to use Google for their search because of all the marketing that the company carries out.
Google search is an amazing service.
It’s because they have an amazing service that people use their service almost by default.
Now, we can get into the details of how they market to their users, and how they ensure the brand is front of mind, and all that.
Bottom line is that they provide a service for users, and the majority of users prefer to use Google’s services for their search.
I say this to say, as part of Google’s objective to provide the best service to their users, they need to have a high standard to their service.
And as such, they need to influence websites to have a high standard should they want to continue to acquire traffic from search.
Organic traffic, via search, is not a right.
Ranking number one on Google is not a given.
Consistently having the highest market share amongst competing brands is not by happenstance.
Being number one, and staying number one, across several high demand keywords, requires work.
There is an unspoken – agreement, if you like – between you and Google.
For their users, they need to present the best, most appropriate websites, web-pages, for a given query.
For them to show your website, web-page, to their users, you show that you’re deserving of their users.
As a reward for doing this, you receive the traffic from their users because, in a way, they vouch for you, your website, your web-page.
You receive this acquired traffic for as long as you show that you’re the best, most appropriate website, web-page for the given query.
How do you achieve this? By focusing on users.
By focusing on users, you align yourself with Google’s agenda – to serve users as best as possible.
Now, Google cannot make you do this. They do not have any ownership of your website.
What they can do, however, is highly influence you to consider users, and to consider them for as long as you have a website.
This is to say, if user-demand changes, you must adjust to the changes, as Google themselves, will.
A failure to adjust to user-demand leads to what…?
It leads to another website, another web-page, ranking higher than you.
Why? Because they show, better than you, that they are the best, most appropriate website, web-page for the given query, which Google needs to service for their users.
The relationship dynamic between you and Google is centered on the common goal – to serve the user as best as possible.
If Google is doing this, and you are doing this, you’re aligned. You acquire their users.
If Google continues to do this, and you do not, you no longer acquire their users.
And this is fair. Is it not?
Why should Google continue to send traffic your way when you’re not showing that you’re catering to users?
Why should they continue to rank you highly, and in a way, vouch for your site, to their users?
And as established, it’s THEIR users.
You’re simply borrowing them, when they come via search.
The unspoken agreement, is that you treat them well.
Put yourself in the shoes of a searcher.
Imagine you search for something on Google, and all ten results on the front page are websites you visit only to determine that all ten are not to your liking.
Imagine having this experience for weeks, months –
Every time you use Google, you’re shown results of websites that do not care about your browsing experience.
Do you think you’ll continue to use Google?
Do you think you’ll continue to use Google when you know of at least 2 alternative search engines that provide the same service as Google.
At some point, you’re going to want to see if you’ll get a better set of results from those other search engines, wouldn’t you?
This is why Google is constantly making sure they service their users as best as possible.
They do so more so than other search engines, perhaps.
As the number one search engine, would you expect anything less?
Of course not.
Being number one means the bar is constantly being raised.
It means you are the one constantly raising the bar.
The alternative, of someone else doing so, means they win the business.
This is true for search engines. This is true for websites.
You’re not entitled to the users you acquire via search.
You acquire them by earning their visit – a visit which is borrowed from search.
Serving them as best as you can, consistently, is a small price to pay for this acquired traffic.