How Google Teaches Us To Be Better Marketers

Ah, Google…

The all-knowing, all-seeing super-algorithm that intrinsically embeds itself in our lives on every screen, 24 hours a day. Gone are the days of having to visit a library and read books to solve a problem, learn a new fact, or settle an argument when an answer is a quick online search away. Google has wrangled the search-able internet into an organized chaos, and has become the majority gatekeeper for getting your business’s voice out to the public. When a business has become so saturated in our modern technology and lifestyle that its very name becomes a verb (come on, who hasn’t Googled themselves), it’s in every business’s best interest to play the game, learn the rules, and fall in line.

What’s curious about the “Google line” though, is that to commit to the game and play by their rules – you’re both inevitably working toward the same goal: give the customer what they want.

In my recent years working with Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Management (Pay-Per-Click Advertising), a recurring theme always surfaced from research into best practices, algorithmic secrets, and SEO tips and tricks. While so many are focused on the technical ways to “fool the search engines” into higher rankings using tested methods that admittedly do work right now, the next time that the Google algorithm gets updated – which happens CONSTANTLY – many of those tricks might be not as useful, and in some cases might have the opposite negative effect. A favorite quote of mine from an article written way back in 2009 about SEO: “Write For People, Not Search Engines.”

In past years, some online marketers would add ridiculous amounts of keywords in the header and/or main content of the site to “fool” the search engines into making them relevant for those keywords (hence, “keyword stuffing”). Modern search engine updates have made the practice worthless, and in most cases bad for search rankings.

What’s amusing is Google itself has preached over and over that the main underlying goal for all their algorithmic changes, updates, features, and optimizations have been in an ongoing effort to bring the users the most relevant results – every time. All of their tireless work within the complex computations of their search engine knowledge graph is a consistent effort to get smarter, learn what the user is searching for, and provide them exactly what they want. It’s all about relevancy and quality – it always has been and it always will be (perhaps with a bit of making money mixed in, but come on – they’re a business too). With every iteration, the search engines (and not just Google) are getting smarter, and the mission will always be the same.

What can we learn about marketing from Google?

  1. What works now won’t work forever: The methods, tricks, tips, tools, and gimmicks will always be second in importance to the primary goal of getting the user relevant and quality results.
  2. Adopt a user-centric approach: Every business likes to say the customer is #1, but is that really always the case in your marketing? The customer has a tendency to be folded into a statistic during the planning and building stages of a marketing campaign, defined by percentages and demographics. While this information is useful for targeting, don’t let it take precedence over relevancy and quality for the user – what are they getting out of it? If you focus on the customer first and the methods second, your approach will naturally evolve as your customers do.
  3. Constantly try new things: Ever heard of Google’s self-driving car, air balloons providing Wifi access, Google Wave, Google Fiber, or Google’s efforts in learning the secrets of living forever? These are all projects that Google has put time, effort, and money into in order to do something new and amazing. Not all succeed, some spectacularly fail, but for every project that goes in the trash, two more are there to take their place. Don’t be afraid to try new and unexpected marketing campaigns that utilize different media and fresh techniques.

This article might seem contradictory to other articles about data, metrics, targeting, goals, etc… but it’s not meant to be. What we can learn from Google (which is one of the most technically advanced companies in history) is that all those data points are only useful if the end result is the customer is getting what they want out of their search. A customer-centric and data-complex system working together is not only possible, but can be a symbiotic relationship – as long as the priorities always lie with the customer.

Dan Rickman

About Daniel Rickman

I work with photography, illustration, design, marketing, SEM/SEO and animation/video. I love doing web and UI design as well as print, and have a passion for new and exciting technology. Self proclaimed tech junkie, designer and marketer, SEO/SEM authority.