Gaining the number one position in Google search results is a bit like the Hunger Games. You are one of thousands of businesses wanting to seize that number 1 spot when someone searches “Bose audio.” There can only be one winner and competitors are ruthless and willing to do anything to triumph. The difference between the Hunger Games and SEO is that the aim of the game is not merely survival, it is to boost your ranking in Google’s results. Let’s take a look at the game and the tributes…
Other than the small minority that still use Yahoo! and Bing (yes these people still exist), most of us use Google to navigate the web. To give you an idea of how many people are utilising Google, according to DMR there are approximately 2.3 million searches per second! This means that it is really important for businesses to find ways to boost their visibility within Google search results. As we all know, the second page of Google doesn’t get much love, so having your website at the top of listings is ideal as browsers can find your business quickly, aiding in information search AND boosting the chances of conversion. Let’s take a look at a few ways this can be done:
Search Engine Optimisation…. chances are that you have heard of it at some stage, but what actually is it? According to Moz, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be defined as using strategies to increase a webpage’s ranking within search engine results. Essentially, the main goal is to make sure your company gets as close to the top of search results to increase the chances of internet users accessing your website. Results are ordered by search engine algorithms. Google uses these to order results based on the frequency of keywords, URL quality and relevance of content and web links.
To give you an idea, here’s an example of a past victor of The Google Hunger Games: Bose. Bose have used SEO techniques to ensure they are the first result on Google, surpassing opponents such as JB Hi Fi and Phillips Audio. This makes it easier for potential customers to navigate to their page.
So what techniques can be used to outsmart opponents and reach the number 1 spot? According to Sen, there are two main approaches:
Black Hat Approach
This is the approach that attempts to trick Google algorithms to increase the search result rank. This is done through repeating keywords frequently and hiding them to increase the level of relevancy, stuffing metadata full of keywords, redirecting webpages and creating lots of inbound web links. Think of this approach as the Cato of Hunger Games: deceitful and ultimately ineffective.
White Hat Approach
This is the approach that uses genuine quality content to be organically ranked by the algorithms. Basically the white hat follows desired practice and has relevant metadata and titles, quality links and no hidden content. Google’s algorithms detect that this is a legitimate site and therefore boosts it’s ranking. Think of this approach as the Katniss of Hunger Games: although she had to work for it, Katniss ends up prevailing and beating everyone else through being genuine and the best in the game. (And she is totally rocking the white hat look).
So what does that mean for digital marketers? Marketers can use genuine webpages to deliver quality content to consumers through the use of Google algorithms OR they can use undesirable tactics to increase the position within results. Generally speaking, the white hat approach is the way to go. We need to remember that marketing is all about value and most websites are another avenue to delivering value to customers, whether that is through reviews, product information or customer service. As such, artificially boosting your website’s ranking could mean that customers do not receive the most relevant content and any potential visit could end in a quick mash of the mouse on the back button to return to the search engine. Another thing to remember is that Google is constantly updating algorithms to work their way around the black hats and provide the most accurate ranking of search results. As such using the black hat technique is not only annoying to users of the search engine, but is also not productive in generating web traffic as the visitors leave quickly and the algorithms change to ignore these negative techniques.
Let me know if you have encountered any websites using the Black Hat Approach to boost their position within search results.