In the last 24 hours, the ‘net has been abuzz with Google’s admission that their SEO is not as good as it could be. Some see this as a sign that Google “ain’t all that”. Others see it as a reason to question the value of SEO. Regardless of what you make of Google’s SEO revelation, I see some lessons here for all of us.
1. Openness and honesty are cool. (And they make a difference.)
By telling the world they’re not perfect Google becomes more genuine. And they’ll attract more people to them. No one likes an arrogant “know-it-all”. We generally prefer to work with people (and organizations) who are honest and a little humble. Admitting a weakness is about as honest and humble as it gets. Kudos to Google to showing us they are not perfect.
2. Offering value is more important than SEO
Google didn’t get to be the #1 web company in the world by catering to the technical rules of SEO. They did it by offering people value. Think of all the products and services they offer:
- Internet search
- Web based email
- Online office applications
- Online calendar
- Online task manager
- Online contact manager
- Mapping tools
And these are just a few. It wasn’t too many years ago that we had to pay hundreds of dollars for the equivalent of these. Google offers them free. In fact, most of Google’s customers never pay Google a penny. Only a tiny fraction of their customers actually pay for their services.
Yet they keep churning our new products faster than Darren Rowse writes new blog posts. They not only offer value. They have helped redefine the value relationship with their customers. (See Chris Anderson’s book “Free” for more on this.)
3. Engaging your customers helps you offer more value
Google gets customer engagement. They have become masters at getting their users customers involved in the development, testing and improvement of their products. They don’t brag about it with expensive ads. They just do it. And they do it well because they get customers very involved, they listen and they act on what they hear.
Now that Google has announced their SEO shortcomings, no doubt they will turn things around. But maybe they don’t need to. Google has been plenty successful without the benefit of SEO.
Maybe SEO just isn’t that important.
Okay, I won’t go that far. But I will say that if most of your focus is SEO then you’re missing the boat. You’re far less likely to attract and keep the customers you want. A better plan is to be like Google and focus on creating value for your customers first.