Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Todd Friesen, Position Technologies

Todd Friesen
VP Search
Position Technologies

Which of the lessons below resonates with you the most and why?

So many of the lessons resonate with me. I’ve been a professional search marketer for over a decade and spent a lot of that time cheering and cursing Google as I learned those lessons myself.

One of my favorites it that “Brands Can Be The Answer”. Google makes this so simple. I like to look at how they’ve implemented One Box results, Local 3, 7 and 10 packs and how those local results are working their way up the pages for generic searches like “pizza”. Google has figured out that we trust familiar brands so, after they have gotten the relevancy close enough, they drop these brands right in front of us in the search results and we don’t even have to leave the page to get our answers. We just happily call the phone number, or click to the map, or call up the guy that owes us $100 because Duke won again.

What makes Google such a unique company? Why has it been so successful?

Google was simply in the right place and the right time and happened to get the right people in place. The culture is pretty unique but not so unique that they’ve changed how business is done. A lot of the perks Google had were simply better than anybody else. The cafeteria springs to mind but many of those perks have gone away or been degraded. Now we read more about how dissatisfied Googlers are rather than about how people did insane crazy-ass stunts to get noticed and hired.

At this point, Google has more money than we can probably imagine and they can do pretty much anything they want. Free wifi in a bunch of major airports? Sure. Give the world Nexus phones? Sure. Build a super secret data center in Oregon? Why not? Park your private 737 at Moffett Field? ‘Nuff said.

What do you think is the most critical SEO [search engine optimization] ranking factor for Google?

A nicely balanced link portfolio with good anchor text that you’ve built naturally over time. That’s the answer Google wants me to preach. While that answer is valid and I will say it publically (I’d hate for Matt Cutts to hunt me down since he can probably track me with his Nexus One. I think maybe I show up as a can of Spam™ on his Google Maps) I am compelled to tell you that Google still doesn’t quite have handle on links that are ‘built naturally’. They’re getting better all the time but so are we (evil grin emoticon).

What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to Google?

They keep plugging the holes we find in the algorithm ;)

Lesson #15 is “Sex Sells.” Has search been a boon for the porn industry? Who delivers better “adult” results — Google or Bing?

Search has been a boon for the porn industry since the early days of banner ad networks that paid solely on the basis of raw impressions. Porn sites would cloak pages full of banners and get them to rank for search terms like ‘Barbie’ and ‘Mickey Mouse’ because the search volume was so great for those terms. As search engines figured out how to bust basic cloaking like that and the general public of the world came to realize that there was a metric ton of pictures and videos of naked people on the internet it became less necessary to cloak for the Nudie Bait and Switch.

So, yeah, search [has been a] massive boon to the purveyors of adult entertainment online but is Google better than Bing? The reality is that Bing could provide 100% better search results but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter due to the overwhelming landslide of traffic that Google delivers.

What we can all agree on is that Bing’s video search is way cooler than Google’s video search. Search for your favorite private desire on Google video and you have to click at least twice to view the video and that’s assuming the provider hasn’t interjected all kinds of barriers. Do that same search on Bing and hover you mouse over the videos and you never have to clickagain. Google is likely better for conversion and cookie dropping and the very least. Bing seems more likely to make the surfer head to the bathroom than sign up for something.

Do you think it’s a best practice for brands to try and capture both paid and organic rankings for the same keyword? Or does it all depend on the brand?

[Trying to capture both is] common sense here I think, at this point in time. [You want to] be on both sides of the page. Leverage SEO rankings to manage your max bids for generic high traffic, low conversion terms. Rinse and repeat.

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