To many, web search is pure, unbiased, and has the highest integrity. This is what Google wants you to think as well. The “searcharati” has been buzzing lately about several reports coming from the European Union, the U.S. FTC, and even independent studies. These reports have been focusing on Google’s integrity, or the lack there of. The accusation is Google’s algorithms ranking system is corrupt in favor of it’s own properties. No one really understands how Google’s algorithms work except Google. And, since they dominate and practically own search, they actually control it. They are able to change the rules on search anytime it wants and only they decide what is right and wrong. This is the core of the problem.
Over the past few weeks, Google has been marching up to Washington to explain their lack of bias and having to defend itself in Europe over the same issues. In Spain, they recently lost a court battle over this matter. With so much power, does Google and search in general, have an obligation to maintain genuine meritocracy? They do have an obligation to shareholders, so does that mean social obligation and consciousness are second?
What does this have to do with marketing and brand? The idea that SEO is easy and cheap or even free, is a myth. There are many who proclaim they have figured out Google’s algorithms and can get you ranked on a regular basis. Many have seen online marketing as a less expensive way to advertise and, most importantly, it levels out the playing field for everyone. Traditional media is seen as the game for the big boys since only the rich can afford it. Sorry to burst your online bubble, but the same principle is true in the online world too. The honest conclusion is you have to have money to employ search engine optimization practices. This will give you a great advantage over those who can’t afford such a large budget item on their marketing list. The story is the same. If you don’t invest appropriately in marketing, regardless of on or off line, you can’t expect to win. The reason why most believe SEO and other online tactics is cheap or free is because they don’t really know what they are doing or they don’t take it seriously.
Ultimately, how can any service claim to know how search works if they aren’t Google? And, if you aren’t a Google property, how can you be sure your ranking on search engines is an honest and true result? Finally, it still takes significant investment in marketing to make a difference in your bottom line. Even great online tactics and SEO takes serious investment to have a powerful effect.