Trick-OR-TreatHere’s an easy question – will you get more children at your door during Halloween with amazing tricks or delicious treats?

Obviously treats.  Children love candy and after a couple years of trial and error they figure out which homes or apartments hand out the best treats.  And they flock to those doors with their bags open wide.

Well the same holds true with search engine optimization (SEO) .  Treats will always outperform tricks in the long run.  In other words, if you want to get ranked and stay ranked over the long-term, then you can’t have the mindset of trying to trick Google.

Google learns by trial and error which websites provide the best information (i.e. give the best candy) and which ones are just tricking their users.  So eventually the tricksters move down in the rankings or are completely removed from their index.


Who Is In Control?

Some fraudulent SEO firms will lead you to believe they have control and will guarantee you rankings.  However, no SEO firm controls which websites rank high in Google.  Yes, it’s possible to influence your rankings and that’s what SEO is all about, but don’t confuse that power with real control.

Another belief is that Google is in control.  Yes, Google is certainly in control, but there’s a catch here.  Google does not exist without loyal users.

So the correct answer to the question, who is in control?, is Google’s users.  User behavior ultimately impacts which websites should rank high in the search results because Google’s goal is to satisfy their users.  If Google doesn’t satisfy the user’s search, then she’ll go to Yahoo, Bing, or some other search engine.  Less users means less people clicking on ads, which means less revenue, which leads to extinction…

So the question with SEO is never, how do I trick Google to make my website #1? Instead, it should be how do I satisfy Google’s users so Google wants to rank me #1?


How to Satisfy Google’s Users

This brings us back to my original analogy.   Google users are like children on Halloween looking for treats. Your goal is to be the most popular house on the block, and that means handing out the best treats (i.e. information to answer their question).

In other words, you need to provide relevant information and a great user experience.  If your webpage is not relevant, then users will click back and try another search result.  Likewise, if your webpage is confusing and hard to navigate, users will be dissatisfied.

So stop thinking about how you can trick or manipulate Google.  The reality is, Google is going to make changes based on user behavior, so the focus must be on how to best satisfy the user for a given search phrase.  Everything else is a waste of time and energy.

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