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James Parnwell

James Parnwell

How to think like Google: SEO 2.0

It’s astonishing to think that Google has only been around since 1999 and is only 18 years old, like a teenager with their new driver’s license on the precipice of adulthood. Over the years they have solidly dispensed with their competitors one by one, do you remember Ask Jeeves or Alta Vista? It’s only Bing and Yahoo who have even single-digit market share today.  

The authority of Google on human life in 2017 is unmistakable, the word Google went from being a noun to be being a verb. It’s not only the number 1 website it’s the doorway for millions of business to be found and grow.  

It didn’t take long for people to realise that if they could get their website to the first position of Google there were great riches at stake, and thus the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) industry was born and what an ugly child it was. Straight out of the gate people figured there was an algorithm underpinning the search results and started to reverse engineer how they could manipulate it. People were stuffing keywords, spinning content, buying backlinks, hiding text and the list goes on… and it worked… in 2002. There was every chance you would do a search for “download music” and get served a result that sold you Viagra. Google was the smartest at fixing this problem and therefore they are winning the search engine wars. Actually, winning is an understatement, they hold a worldwide monopoly. Pretty astounding stuff!  

The way of thinking that says, “How can I trick Google into ranking me?” needs to die. However, it amazes me that in 2017 I am still having this conversation with many businesses both large and small. This idea, let’s call it SEO 1.0, definitely doesn’t work anymore. We have had the opportunity to speak with some large companies who have suffered from Manual Penalties in the past few years and their business suffered as a result. SEO 1.0 is at best a waste of time at worst a killer for your business. 

 Google’s computing power and resources are vast, this means they know everything about your website and every other website on the net and how they fit together. The algorithm uses advanced Artificial Intelligence (called Rank Brain) to compare your website with your competitors and decide who they should put on the front page of their search results. 

SEO 2.0 requires a completely different philosophy

Put yourself in Google’s shoes for a minute, pretend it’s your business and ask yourself, “What do we provide?” The answer is simple, Google wants to provide the most relevant information for your search query. So, if you type in “cheapest blinds in Sydney” it needs to show you the cheapest blinds in Sydney (not Viagra [Symbol]).  It will give you some options from paid ads, the local listings near you and then a list of 10 results that it believes are the cheapest blinds in Sydney. 

If you sell blinds but you aren’t particularly cheap, perhaps you sell fancy Italian blinds at a premium price you won’t show up for this keyphrase. How does Google know? It will test your website in the top page for a little while then bump you back down the list if you don’t outperform the competitors.  

When we say “outperform” we are really saying, “Which site do real-life humans like the most.” This is where the crunch of SEO 2.0 comes in. It’s a philosophy that resonates with us at TheOnlineCo. a great deal, that is, we need to put People first, then technology second. We need to make sure we are giving the best information we can in the simplest way and enabling people to find the information they need and make decisions they need to make. This idea is more about Psychology than Technology. 

Don’t get me wrong, we are not throwing out the Technology baby with the bathwater. If you don’t have accurate meta titles that tell Google what keywords to rank for you don’t stand a chance. If you aren’t reaching out and getting strong backlinks to your site, developing new and engaging content and ticking the boxes of the 200 algorithmic factors you are stuffed. That being said, what happens when you’ve done all the technical SEO you can and you still don’t rank. Chances are your result isn’t the best result for human beings. 

Google is gathering incredible amounts of data about your website. To put this in perspective, have you ever used Google Maps? I’ve used it in Australia, England, Scotland, United States and Vietnam. It knows every street, the various on-ramps, and off-ramps in every part of the world. I remember pulling onto a highway in Kansas City, there was a complex five lane merging situation happening. Not only did it have every mapped perfectly it was telling me that there was moderately heavy traffic at this location. Google knows the maps and traffic density on every road in the world in real time. How much easy is it to track your website and its search results. 

How do we put this into practice? 

I would suggest that you type the keyword that you want to rank for into Google and open up the top three results. Ask yourself how they are relating to people better than you, do they have a video above the fold, do they have clear calls to action, do they have a chatbox, perhaps they show their products immediately. If you work out what people like about them, you can then do it better, implement all the best practice technical SEO and then test to see how it works. You will get two results, firstly people that come to your website will have a better experience and you will convert more traffic into customers, second, you will get better rankings. It’s a no lose scenario! 

Forget trying to game the system, it simply doesn’t work anymore. Now is the time to understand your customer and develop for them the best content possible and watch your business grow! 




How to think like google

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James Parnwell
James Parnwell

James is the Managing Director and resident strategist at TheOnlineCo. He is clever and creative with a flair for making complex things sound simple. He has been in the marketing game for over 2 decades and has watched the landscape slowly shift. James has his finger on the pulse of every aspect within TheOnlineCo, meeting with all clients as well as every core team member and strategising a specific plan tailored to each client.

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