Think like a search engine

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Think like a search engine.

This is one of those mantras we’ve had for a while at 312 digital.

SEO can be seen as very complicated. Because it is when you look at it as a complicated set of math problems.

Google and Bing each use hundreds of different factors to determine how to rank pages. And each engine makes dozens if not hundreds of changes to those algorithms each year.


Think like a search engine by Sean McGinnis

As we consult with clients about SEO and about how to compete for search traffic – there is inevitably a point at which the discussion turns to “how can we beat the algorithm.”

It’s this mindset that leads down the path of destruction.

To be sure, an algorithm is a rule-set and search is a game to be won. And you definitely want to do what you can to understand those rules and to optimize your web site to follow those rules and win the game as best you can.

But those rules were constructed as a means to an end.

Google is a recommendation engine

In order to be successful in SEO you have to understand that Google is NOT a search engine. Google is a recommendation engine. And just like any human that you would ask for a recommendation:

Where should I go for lunch today?

Is the Hunger Games a good movie?

What do you think about that Econ 235 class, is it worth taking?

Google wants to be able to consider the same factors your next door neighbor would if you asked one of those or a billion other questions.

Google: your next door neighborThe Google algorithm is designed to break that decision down into its constituent parts and to come up with a black and white, mathematical answer that approximates a human decision. The fact the recommendation is algorithmic does little more than provide scale.

So, stop trying to BEAT Google. And start humanizing the algorithm.

Pretend Google is your next door neighbor. What are the things your next door neighbor would like to see in your business that would drive them to recommend your place to a friend.

Then start doing THAT! You’ll be far better off in the long run.

Would a next door neighbor recommend a company that spun thousands of similar articles that looked the same and then uploaded those articles to content farms purely for the sake of building links? What about a web site that was filled with ads from top to bottom, trying to “monetize” their blog or web site? Would that get a recommendation? Or a site that is filled with pop-up ads? Or one that takes forever to load in a browser?

As Google and Bing take greater efforts to make recommendations appear more human it’s a perfect time for you to take a more human approach to SEO. Think like a search engine. It will pay huge dividends in the long run.

Image built upon via creative commons courtesy of kevenlaw.

Sean McGinnis

Sean McGinnis is founder of 312 Digital, full service digital agency based in Chicago, Illinois. 312 digital provides high performing websites, SEO, content marketing and other online marketing services to small and medium sized businesses across the US. He speaks and blogs about SEO, content creation, social media and a number of other digital topics. Sean has been involved in Internet Marketing since 1998. You can find him on .

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Really useful one, this article explains very clearly about the Google algorithm.


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