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Is Google Gunning For Directories?

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Why is it that webmasters are so quick to blame Google if their website falls down the search rankings, or out of the rankings altogether? Can it never be their own fault…

I read an amusing forum post headed “What’s up with Google?”. The writer had a website just 2 months old, which had only had 2 visits from Googlebot, a Google robot. The poster was a bit grieved, and was blaming Google.

It seems they had extrapolated their own situation into one they had witnessed with other webmasters on another forum. They were also upset, this time by Google’s latest update, as their websites had been badly hit. Of course, the drop way down the rankings had seriously affected their income; what right had Google to do that to them, they were demanding to know?

So grieved were this group of webmasters they were trying to drum up support for a boycott of Google. Big G was too big for its boots and was going to be brought down by these few innocent souls. Who were they trying to kid, apart from themselves?

What was it these webmasters had in common that brought them together in this “bring down Google” brigade? Apparently, their websites were directories.

Now, let’s apply some intelligent marketing thought to this little situation as Google faces obliteration by a few small directory owners. As a company, Google has a tendency to get its basic marketing right, eventually. In the case of search, its customers are those using the Google search facility, as many millions of us do every day. So, Google’s first duty, when someone makes a search on a particular keyword or phrase, is to supply a list of what it considers the best websites for that search. Does that make Google the big bad monster? No, of course not; it’s trying to look out for its search customers.

I have been searching on the internet for many years. If ever I have searched for the omnipresent “widgets”, then it has been “widgets” I have typed in. Not once in my memory have I typed in “widget directory.” I have never even wanted to use a directory online; they take too long drilling down to find anything useful. As for the proliferation of online directories recently, they are often junk sites, using some automation software to create them in the first place. Many have been set up to deceive search engine robots into “thinking” they are valuable sites.

It is absolutely no surprise that Google has found a way of homing in on directories, if that is what they have done, and given them a shove down the rankings with their latest algorithm change. If their customer does a search on a keyword or phrase, that’s what they are looking for. They are not looking for a directory which, more often than not, is just a whole load of other links that may be related. I find such sites extremely irritating if I’m searching; am I the only one? I doubt it; people want to get directly to a site that has information on what they are looking for; something with added value.

No directory owner has the divine right to syphon off Google’s hard won search customers. Google is doing a decent job at marketing: trying to look after its customers. The directory owners calling for a boycott of Google are doing no such thing. They had found a way of getting high rankings, and now that method may have gone down the pan.

It is up to webmasters to do their own marketing, and Google is an important part of our market place. In the long run, we need to see Google as a customer and partner, as it sees us a customer and partner. Google is actually a very helpful company to webmasters, Google Sitemaps being a recent example of their desire to co-operate.

While some blinkered webmasters may see Google as an enemy (friend when they have a high ranking), it is up to the rest of us to try and apply some basic marketing practice. That means understanding what Google is looking for and trying to supply that need. After all, that is what Google does so successfully. We can all learn something.

Just look at Google’s Home Page. The message is: “Ok, we know you’re here to search, so get on with it. Here’s the search box.”

The message is not: “Hello, look at my pretty page. Do you like my Flash, and my clever graphics? And what about those links all over the place, aren’t they nice? You want to search? Hang on a minute, there’s lots of pictures for you to look at lower down, and how about going off to read about loads of other products. Oh, alright, you want to search; there’s a search box somewhere; near the bottom I think. You’ll find it.eventually.”

The secret of real marketing is to understand your marketplace as it is, and how it is likely to develop. Google has made it obvious for a long time what they want; quality content that fills the needs of their search customers.

Hands up anyone who’s really searching for a directory?

Roy Thomsitt is the owner and author of http://www.change-direction.com

Is Google Gunning For Directories?
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