Is authority over rated? Now if you ask the independent and non Russian speaking citizens of the Crimea who come from a Tatar or Ukrainian background, the answer is likely to be a resounding yes. Yet if you asked our friends at Google about authority you may get some mixed signals. Let’s explore why.
If we naturally assume that the biggest is the best it would automatically stifle growth or any innovation. In fact, if the kind of limitations that seem to exist in Google search these days existed when Google first developed its own search engine, the company itself may not have flourished in the way it has.
Does this sound like sour grapes? Well, maybe but I do feel that there is a lot of truth in the fact that all the changes that have occurred over the last year have altered the Google search landscape so profoundly, that the biggest victims have not necessarily been black hat SEO Marketers’, but specialists who were very good at offering advice and services that the big corporations may at times fail to do as well.
Let me give you an example. If you search Google for pretty well any consumer item these days the results rendered at least on page 1 are likely to be dominated by Amazon, eBay, Gumtree etc etc. Now it’s true that big business has started to sell through these channels much more in recent years but the algorithms that Google are using puts together the biggest platforms, the biggest consumer brands, and page 1 in such a way that if you’re looking for a particular item that is less mainstream (though from a big brand), it may be page 2 or 3 before you find a vendor that will sell it to you.
So search has become come an exhausting and unfulfilling experience. Because if you click on the Amazon or eBay links for the item itself that you’re looking for, there is no guarantee that you will find it. You’re just finding the brands of the vendor, and the maker of the item you’re looking for, not necessarily the specific product you want.
The situation gets even more serious if you’re an information provider. Here search results will be dominated by news or magazine groups, wiki pages, and trade associations in the particular field that you’re searching for. Again the high quality content sites very often fail to feature on page 1, unless the content provider has specific distribution through these outlets in the first place. So in this situation you can get lots of very poor quality reference points in an interest area, but they dominate search for that keyword because of their so called “authority”.
Now a lot of the things that Google have been doing in change in their algorithms are very fair. So if people have countless back links to meaningless article submission sites, directories, or a tremendous amount of duplication, a lack of a mobile presence, hard to navigate or slow running or slow loading website, then it’s only right that they should be marked down.
The problem is that the prominence that Google has given to authority, is so great that the “weighting” that they are providing to authority is overriding quality and ease of search. So the whole thing has become hugely frustrating, and one wonders what the motive is. Is this an algorithm that requires further fine tuning, or is it driven by the greater use of Smartphone’s and the need to push smaller vendors is towards using AdWord? Now we can only speculate about that, but since Google introduced picture advertising at the top of search last autumn 2013, breaking a pledge that said they never would, one would have to be very sceptical at the very least.
If you are involved in search engine marketing or online marketing, organic SEO on its own, is unlikely to work alone except in niche or hyper local markets. It cannot be the only strategy to creating footfall. Now a multitude of approaches is required, some using social media, and in some instances paid search may now become an absolute necessity. We can only deal with the reality of the situation as it is. But with Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird et el, 2013 may well have been search engine optimisers’ Annus horribilis, and the power of authority as is demonstrated in Crimea at the present time, may have parallels, with Google. Outrageous? Mmm, not really, it’s all about power, power doesn’t necessarily equate to quality – especially for small businesses and the real loser is the consumer because the outcome of all this is less not more choice.