Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Search Engine Land, didn’t waste any time answering the conspiracy question posed in the conference guide: “Google is taking over everything. This will be a very short talk.”
Fortunately for the attendees of the keynote session at the Apartment Internet Marketing conference (AIM), Sullivan continued and explained that success with Google isn’t about the tactics, but the Internet marketing strategy.
“Stay focused on the broad strategy,” Sullivan says. “It will guide you toward success in the long run. You understand how people search on Google and you should take advantage of the ways that help you do well on Google.”
Being successful, however, is becoming more difficult by the day, as Google regularly changes its guidelines, making it difficult to keep up for brands. Sullivan pointed to the introduction of Penguin, a Google algorithm update aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violated Google’s Webmaster guidelines, as a prime example of the complexity.
“Every day, I think I have seen it all,” Sullivan says. “Google had to ban itself for violating it’s own rules.”
Google banned some of its own pages in 2005 for cloaking, a search engine optimization technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different than the content presented to users. If Google can make mistakes that lead to being banned, apartment owner-operators can easily find themselves in the same position.
At least cloaking is in an apartment company’s control. What isn’t is Google’s increasing emphasis on advertising, which is pushing organic search results further down the page.
“A few years ago when you searched for the name of a hotel on Google, the number one thing would have been … the hotel,” Sullivan says. “Your conspiracy. That’s it. It’s just reality. Google is showing more ads.”
That means apartment owner-operators have to pay for a lot more with Google to get prime placements in search results. And that’s the conspiracy of Google – a brand once known as the champion of free information.