Issue #164

Sent to members on June 25, 2018

Google is watching

Today, we’re going to begin to breach the topic of Google SEO and how it works. We’re not really going to be talking about keyword research here. We’re talking about optimizing for human beings – because that’s what really moves the needle when it comes to Google.

Google has a LOT of data at it’s disposal, as you might imagine. It sees what people are searching for. It watches – and reacts in real-time – to user activity on their search engine. It tracks clicks. It tracks when people back up and return to the search results. And let’s face it… if you’re using Google Analytics, they can even see what happens on your site.

For instance, every link which comes up in a Google search is run through a tracker. Google is tracking click-throughs. And obviously they see a click-through as a vote by the end user that that result is what they were looking for.

Once the end user clicks through to the website, they’ll look at what’s there. It will either attract their attention or it won’t. And Google will see how well it is doing that by things such as…

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  • Scroll depth. Or, how far down the page the user scrolls.
  • Time on page.

It’s pretty simple, really. Google sees the click through. Then, it sees how long the person is on the website.

What do we all do if a site we land on doesn’t look like what we were looking for? We back up. We hit the back button and return to Google to look at the next one. This is often called “pogo sticking”.


Obviously, pogo sticking is an indicator that the user isn’t exactly diggin’ what they’re finding. And Google is in the business of delivering to the end user exactly what they WANTED when they searched.

So, Google is taking all this data (and there’s more that we will discuss coming up) and reacting to it. It is self-adjusting because it is always trying to put the stuff the end user most wants at the top of the search results. Google’s job, in terms of search, is nothing more than that. Give the end user what they want when they run a search.

So, from an SEO perspective, your job as a content creator is to provide to the end user the most amount of relevant value tightly related to what the person searched for. If you help Google with it’s mission, you’ll generally be rewarded for it.

And that’s a big part of the attitude you should have about this. Don’t view Google as this beast you have to contend with. In the end, they’re just trying to serve their users. If you do the same thing, it works much better than trying to game the system.

Anyway, we can then break up modern SEO into 2 main components (outside of keyword research):

  1. On-Google optimization in order to attract the click-through.
  2. On-site optimization in your own site in order to keep them there once they’ve arrived.

#1 is all about getting people on Google to click on your link. And #2 is to keep them from bouncing and pogo sticking.

The degree to which you do both of these things is how high up the rankings you will go.

Now, here’s a little mindset thing for you here before we end off for today…

I HOPE you will see that modern SEO is really about MARKETING and not just a bunch of algorithm things.

Traditionally, SEO has been seen as algorithmic. You find the right keywords, you tweak the content in certain ways that the bots will love, and you rise in the rankings. It has been this mathematical thing. Humans weren’t really part of the calculation.

But, today, while certainly the algorithm is still a thing, we really need to think about the HUMAN. And that’s where marketing comes in. In other words, you’ve got to SELL them on your content. We’re looking at things like click-throughs, almost like we would think of an ad. Then we’re looking at conversion rates, which in terms of content could be thought of as time on page, scrolling, sharing, commenting, secondary clicks, etc.

So, just as you might tweak an ad over time to make it perform better, we can do the same with our content.

Make sense?

Coolio. We’ll continue tomorrow, young grasshopper. 🙂

– David

Tech Talk

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