Google optimisation may be at risk in Google’s quest for obscene profits

It’s been an interesting few years for those in the keyword search industry. Google has made some particularly fundamental changes that I believe clearly signal their strategic direction regarding search rankings. And it’s not about Google optimisation either!

It wasn’t that many years ago that simply optimising the ‘on-page’ elements of a website would be sufficient to virtually guarantee a Page 1 result. Understandably, as the volume of webpages has continued to grow at an unabated rate, Google has had to put in place measures to ensure that relevant, popular and fresh content is at the top of search results.

The changes that we’ve seen in their algorithm over the past few years have shifted the focus from ‘on-page’ factors to favour external factors. The primary deciding factor for quality search ranking today is the quality of a sites external backlink network. Websites with strong backlinks from well-ranked and authoritative sites are driving performance in the SERPs. Of course ‘on-page’ optimisation is essential, but its primary role today is to clearly identify the subject matter of a web page.

All of this is fair in love and war, but the most concerning change in Google’s optimisation and ranking strategy is the ‘localisation’ of search results. In short, searchers are being presented in search results with websites within the local area, irrespective whether the search had a geographic term in the search phrase. This is fine if you are happy to market your company or organisation within your city only, but many companies have target markets well outside of their local town. Google Places has also become a key factor, with sites appearing in the maps or places results in what appears to be a random sequence. In fact, I’ve yet to read a clear hypothesis from any SEOs of how the Places algorithm functions.

So if Google is hell-bent on making local websites most prominent in organic keyword search, how do we get sites that geo-target larger areas to feature in search results? Well it just happens that Google conveniently has a product called AdWords. Yes folks, it’s a fully-fledged money machine, with advertisers paying to get their sites to appear in search results. It’s interesting, and also no coincidence that somewhere around 95% of Google’s profits come from PPC (Pay Per Click) AdWords advertising.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but something seems a bit too simple about this. After all, Google has become the online monopoly that Microsoft could only dream of. They own the web and are quietly working themselves into a potentially manipulative market position. I hope that Google optimisation may continue to perform a valuable role well into the future. I know my future relies on it as an SEO Analyst.

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