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Why Google challenges us to confront accepted wisdom

Why Google challenges us to confront accepted wisdom

Larry and Sergey have managed to build one of the most valuable web properties in the world because whilst the rest of us have been getting excited about fads and tools, they have been obsessive in their quest for relevancy and desire to put their customers first.  Their culture of bucking trends when their scientific feedback goes against convention is to be celebrated and should be replicated by all online marketers.

Convention says Search Engine Optimisation must be part of every online marketing strategy.  Google is ranked sixth on itself for the term “search engines” after Dog Pile, Bing, AltaVista, and a Wikipedia explanation about what a search engine is.  Does Dog Pile take business from Google because they’re ranked higher than them for that generic term?  Not a chance, because Google know that the ability to serve the customer, and reputation management trumps clumsy SEO every time.  Google says we’re not even in the top three if you search for “search engines” because it’s not a channel through which our customers seek to find us.

Convention says you get the welcome message on the home page to help people experience the warmth of your brand.  It would be interesting to speculate what such a welcome message might say?  Does the following sound all too familiar?

“Thank you for visiting Google.  We hope that you enjoy visiting our website.  We have a range of exciting products and services for you to enjoy, including search, image search, blogging tools and email.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information.”

They could at least be honest and play with us for a bit of sport?

“We are VERY VERY rich gentlemen indeed!

$20bn each; that’s right $20,000,000,000

Did you count those zeroes?

All ten of them … beautiful

Seriously!  We own you!”

Google says no one gives a damn about being welcomed and is on your site to get the job done.  In Google’s case, the job is search and that’s all anyone cares about.

Convention says you promote your range of services as widely as possible as quickly as possible.  If you have expertise in online search, online documents, spreadsheets, presentations, maps, directions, analytics, blogs, video, calendar, photos, translate and finance, you make sure that this is widely promoted on the home page and on the menu system within the “three click rule”.  Google says the majority of their customers go to their home page to search and they shall be served above all other considerations.

Convention says your logo is the visual representation of your brand, which must never be compromised and must consist of a layout, a colour palette and strict application guidelines.  Google says our customers don’t have the slightest bit of interest in the colour palette of our logo and we’re going to change our logo regularly for a bit of fun to reflect current cultural, political and sporting occasions.

Convention says you take the order always.  If you have a customer who wants to buy something from you, you always sell it, even if it’s not what they want or not what they need.  If you are a media owner and someone wants to advertise with you and your demographics do not match their target, take the money and run.  Google says we take the order for the Pay Per Click advert only when statistics reinforce that a minimum threshold of customers are interested.

Again and again successful online marketing strategies are ruthlessly founded in science and evidence based action.  We could all do well to learn their lessons.

By Gareth Dunlop

Gareth formed Fathom in 2011 and has been in the business of design performance for over two decades.

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