Google has enabled hundreds of thousands of businesses to emerge and prosper by providing visibility in search results. But what Google giveth, Google taketh away, and some businesses find that their results suffer when Google changes the way they conduct searches.
Regardless of how we perceive them, Google’s algorithm tweaks are always in aid of the company’s primary goal: increased relevancy.
Google requires content that demonstrates meaning; users need to find what they’re searching for on the first try, and they don’t appreciate being misled by search engines or websites. Google’s updates seek constantly to improve their results.
For small business owners with well-defined products and services available online, this continued refinement works in our favor, provided we maintain relevancy on our own web pages.
Again, the key here is relevancy. Some small business owners have felt the sting of downgrade in search ranking following big upgrades of Google’s algorithm. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights investigated whether Google’s practices were unfair to certain businesses, but ultimately, most of us benefit from functional algorithms.
Although a case has been made regarding discrimination against sites like Yelp.com, in general, those complaining against Google’s practices have made one of two mistakes:
1. Trying to mediate between the consumer and the search engine (e.g. lead generation, review sites, affiliates).
2. Relying on search traffic for specific queries and making money by selling advertising.
True local brick-and-mortar business, manufacturers of all sizes, and retailers who have established themselves as brands continue to benefit from upgrades that seek to improve relevancy.
Another way of looking at this is to understand that Google’s aims are furthered by more effectively serving the user. Consider a potential customer running a search with the intention of purchasing a product I sell. If I have created a legitimate website and properly branded my company, my web-based business should naturally outrank pages that rely on the same keywords for other purposes. The customer’s experience of search is positive if she or he finds the right link on the top of the search result page.
Google wants your customers to find you just as much as you do. If their algorithms did not continually update, if less relevant results consistently rose to the top of the pile, then Google Search would be considered a generally negative experience for the user, and the user would find some other, more relevant search engine with which to browse the Internet.