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is google adept or inept at seo?

SEO Marketing by Google

google seo

by Kenneth Rudich

With SEO being a sizzling hot topic in the world of internet marketing these days, I began to wonder how the Google search engine website would rank for certain keywords on, of all places, the Google search engine website.

With that in mind, I chose two keyword phrases that struck me as perfect for this exercise: “internet search engines” and “search engines.”  For two months thereafter, I periodically entered both into the Google search engine field, executed the search, and then waited to see what would appear on the first page of it.

Though admittedly unscientific by any measure, the results are now in.  What’s your best guess of how Google did?

intuitive versus counter-intuitive seo results

Part of what prompted this test centered on the question of whether the outcome would be intuitive or counter-intuitive in nature.  Let me explain what I mean.

One school of thought makes it easy to assume Google would perform consistently well in its own search engine.  After all, who should know how to work the algorithms for a favorable standing better than the inventor of them?  Who’d be more aware of the factors that matter most in these rankings than the one who decides what those factors are? 

Consider this comparable analogy.  Imagine two people in a darkened house, where one knows the house intimately well, and the other is in it for the very first time.  Let’s place them just inside the front door, and then give them the task of finding the master bedroom from there.  Would not the one familiar with the house likely be the first to find the bedroom?

Wouldn’t Google know its own house?

the other school of thought for google seo

The other school of thought, however, must examine the relationship between what Google does to make a living, and what an SEO practitioner does to make a living.  In reality, they are adversaries.

An SEO practitioner tries his or her best to manipulate Google’s algorithms to gain not only a ranking advantage, but also, in many cases, to undermine the integrity of what Google is striving to achieve.  In fact, SEO seeks to introduce a bias into the search engine results, whereas Google’s quest is to keep it unbiased. 

There is a natural and fluid conflict between the SEO practitioner’s purpose and Google’s objective.  Each is constantly trying to outwit the other in what amounts to a game of intellectual leapfrog.  That’s why Google frequently tweaks its rankings methodology, because the last thing it wants is to be bested by an SEO practitioner.

so what should google do about its own seo rankings?

All of which begs the question: what does Google then do when it comes to obtaining a ranking on its own search engine website?

Would a high ranking, and especially a consistently high ranking, indicate its algorithms are underperforming, that a powerfully strong and unwavering bias has successfully infiltrated the search engine?   That the integrity of it has been breached?  By its own hand, no less? 

Or would poor rankings suggest Google is inept at SEO?  And how could it possibly be a highly regarded search engine business if it doesn’t understand its own engine well enough to rank high on it?

Or would poor rankings maybe mean Google is actually adept at SEO, and that’s precisely why it has a successful search engine business?

How would you call it?

drum roll please-the seo results

Save for one day, Google never appeared on the first page of the search results performed on its own website using the keyword phrases “internet search engines” and “search engines.”

The one day it did come up on the first page, it happened to draw the top spot for an organic ranking.  It also happened to occur on April Fools’ Day 2010, when, as reported by the Kansas City Star, the search engine changed its name to Topeka.

In fact, it was the Star’s news report, and not Google SEO (although it was Google’s prank), that got it to rank number one for that day.

What do you think?

Is Google inept at SEO?  Or is Google adept at SEO, and that’s exactly why it has such a successful search engine business?

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  29. Kenneth Rudich says:

    Hi Paul:
    You’re right about the importance of content. It’s clear you feel strongly about the position they hold and the clout that they have. I suspect they don’t have to rank well. It won’t hurt them. I’m just curious if this is something that was deliberately thought out or if it’s a function of mere happenstance.

    It was good to hear from you!

    Ken

  30. Kenneth Rudich says:

    Hi Jeff:

    I have to concede the SEO, Google relationship cuts both ways. In many respects they benefit each other. I was just trying to figure why they wouldn’t rank well on their own page, and if there might not be a deliberate reason for it.

    At any rate, in the interest of fairness, thanks for the clarification. I do appreciate it.

    Ken

  31. Paul Germana says:

    I think the point is that Content Is King and as long as Google has been in business everybody knows who they are; everybody’s taking about them. I think the princely analogy applies here. The prince inherits the throne and all that has been attributed to it, yet he does nothing. Of course the people at Google are a bunch of dirty underhanded cheats, so the term Usurper is a bit more appropriate in this case.

    Once you’ve been at this game a while you will eventually have them do something to you that will prove unquestionably that what you suspected all along was true. Google has monopolized the search engine industry. Last time I checked monopolies were outlawed, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone. They are bound by no restrictions or rules, because the law of the land allows them to decide what should or should not be relevant. It looks like the nerds finally won and turned out to be a bunch of *&%6& bastards.

  32. James George says:

    Great analogy with the dark house. I have also wondered if Bing or Yahoo would purposefully penalize other search engines in their SERPs. It appears that Google either isn’t optimizing for these keywords or that they are choosing not to rank well. Perhaps this is to avoid anti-competitive lawsuits (does that even apply?).

    Google ranked high for individual products such as adwords or wave.

    The SEO professional actually assists Google. They transform a web page into an easy to index document. One that tells them what the page is about, what it offers to visitors, and what keywords it thinks it should be ranked for. This feedback helps Google’s algorithms determine where it should be ranked.

    The SEO professional builds strong links with other reputable pages to show that those pages hold value. If a respected news organization wrote an article and linked to an outside page… would you expect that outside page to hold value?

    Likewise… the SEO blackhat (the enemy) aims to manipulate Google by participating in intricate link farms designed to deliver 1000s of inbound links.

    Great content is what drives internet traffic.

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