July 16, 2018 | Anup Patel

The Unbeatable Algorithm: How Google Rules

In the constant battle for rankings, what is your company prioritizing? At times, SEO can seem like an exercise in futility. No matter how hard you work to abide by best practices and content guidelines, your website still struggles to rank higher than the third page.

As marketers, we’ve been taught quality over quantity, and even though deep down within our hearts we know that to be true, in reality it doesn’t always win; at least not in our Google world, ruled by the supreme algorithm. You haven’t imagined it. A recent article on entrepreneur.com shared some eye-opening statistics. Google is stacking the deck against small businesses when it comes to page rankings, demanding more of them in return for rankings than they do megasites like Amazon and eBay.

It’s true that page one rankings have a tremendous effect on business and your bottom line, but that’s only because Google has said so. Your ranking doesn’t mean you don’t produce good work or offer top quality products and services. It just means that you’re going to have a harder time trying to get your customers to find you (especially if their journey is driven by online experiences). Fighting for the first page can be a wasted effort in competitive markets.

Consider how often you rely on Google to dictate what you want to know. Think back to the all the Google searches you’ve done in the past week or month. How often did you find (settle for) what you were looking for on the first page vs. venturing to the second page? Odds are good that in most cases, the results on the second page of your search are just as valid and valuable as those on the first, but if you’re like most people, you never get there. In fact, the CTR for results on the first page of Google is 71%, compared to just 6% for page two and three results combined.

We probably can’t convince the audience not to settle on page one results. So, what can we do? The best path forward is to focus on highly targeted, meaningful content combined with an offsite (and offline) strategy. For WS, that strategy included bringing our content to Medium. The sheer amount of effort we’d have to put forth to try to climb the ranks against big content publishers wouldn’t pay off in the long run. We had to find other ways to find and talk to our audiences.

My challenge to you is to spend the next week clicking results on the second or third page of your Google searches. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Anup Patel

Anup Patel is a data analyst at WS. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.