how Google forces businesses onto the social media marketing merry go round

One of the most frustrating things I find about the state of online marketing at the moment is the hoops you have to jump through to get traction on search engines. The hoops are always hoops that are held up by big online media companies, strangely enough.

I recently wrote about how when Google says jump, we all have to say, “How high?”

Well the thing is, what Google is saying is that you have to jump through hoops that are social media hoops. You need Google+, you need Facebook, you need Linkedin, you need a Twitter account, you need Yelp. When it comes to all of these, how active you are on each of these channels can affect your visibility on the web. In addition to this you need to blog as well, and possibly find places to guest blog. But then just when you get busy guest blogging Google decides that guest blogging is no longer cool.

Then there’s link building. But don’t whatever you do pay for links.. you will get penalised! Directory submission? Better be the right ones.. or you will get penalised. You see, what Google wants is proof that you are popular, but if you try to fake popularity you are in trouble.

How many likes you get on Facebook for your business page and on your web page is something that Google checks for “social proof”.

Social proof works something like this:

If you have two adverts for a product that saves energy:

  • The first one lets the customer know that they could be saving $54/month on their electricity bill.
  • The second one lets customers know that 77 percent of their neighbours were already using the product.

Guess which one is more successful. In case you didn’t work it out, option two. People love social proof. They love to know that they are not alone in choosing something.

Now, I’m not opposed to social proof as a concept. It’s unavoidable. It’s simply the way people are wired.

However, what I am finding increasingly ridiculous is that businesses that are not web businesses having to jump through the hoops that are set up by a giant multi national American corporation.

If you’re a builder or an electrician, your job is to build houses or put in lights. It’s not to blog or put up social media posts.

Unfortunately, if you have a web page, that is what you are expected to do in order to get visibility on Google. Either that or advertise with Google at their astronomical pay per click rates.

The internet is supposed to be a place where the little guy can compete on an even footing with the big guy. As time goes by this appears to be be less and less true. Well unless they pay the tolls set by the big guys. It wasn’t meant to be this way.

For more about social proof check out this article from kissmetrics, social proof.

I shouldn’t complain, because what all this does is keep SEO professionals in work. However, I do feel for people whose business has nothing to do with the internet, but have to pay astronomical fees to an SEO to get there. Clients saying.. can you get me to page one? Well yes.. but..


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A computer specialist who has had a long and varied career in IT, starting with the days of Novell, progressing through Microsoft on the way to Cisco and network security. Now running Revolution Web Design, to provide customers with great Web Design, SEO and digital strategy advice.

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