Focus on your brand, not Google’s

by Jim August 20, 2019

Featured answers on Google used to be beneficial for teasing part of the answer, but leaving enough unanswered to entice a reader on to your site. Now Google is scraping the required information, negating the need for a visitor to go to your site. That’s not good, so what should you be doing?

What I learned

  • The AFL isn’t kicking goals by giving Google free content
  • Featured answers used to drive traffic; but not like this
  • Google doesn’t want you to leave
  • Get stuffed Google – don’t rely on them
  • Build your brand


Hey! Welcome back, Rankers. How you going? Oh, it`s verging on Spring. I can feel it. It`s in the air. Lawn`s been cut and the footy finals are on their way. I know. Football. AFL, right? Well, there`s only one type of football, right? We know that. So, AFL, Australian Football League. It is Australia`s national game. The reason I`m talking to you about it today is I had some of the blokes over a couple of weekends ago and we got talking about Google. Someone said, `What the hell is the AFL doing just giving all their content to Google for free like this?` So, what`s happened at the moment in Australia during the AFL season is there is a lot of Google advertising for people to come and search for, say, player of the round or things like that.

Do people need your site?

We`re used to these sorts of things. We`ve spoken about them before, the featured snippets, the featured answers, whatever you want to call them. The knowledge panels, all of these things. A lot of people have been upset about them in the past. The most recent one I think was Lyric Finder? Anyway, one of the lyrics companies where they show that Google`s simply taking the content, scraping the content from their site, and displaying it in the search results. Of course, then the user has no need to go to the lyrics site.

Well, the examples that we`ve done in the past back in the day were around what we called the featured answers. They were mainly what we were doing… we saw them for bloggers and we saw that if a blogger got a featured answer, they would increase their traffic three to four, five times. So, it was really great for bloggers, even though they had that big chunk of copy right at the top of the search result. You would think, `Well, why would people actually need to go to the site then if they`ve already read the featured answer?` Featured answers, though, they didn`t have all the information that you might require from your question if it actually was indeed a question. But this is different. These sorts of things is crazy.

So, the way the AFL works in Australia is that they`ve never actually had to build, or as far as I know anyway, pay to have a website built, even since back in 1996, I think was their first website, `95, `96. Someone paid for the privilege to build the site for them and then that gave them access to all the audience. I think pretty much the same arrangement exists today where you`ll have a big telecommunications company that will be sponsoring the website and they pay for the privilege of having that website there, and it`s independent of the AFL.

The problem now is with these sorts of things, you`re taking traffic away from those sponsors who are running your content and running your site. The other problem with these is that Google`s trying to be everything to everyone. They`re trying to get to the point where you don`t have to leave Google. Now, you might say, `Well, if you`re a retailer, well, they have to come to my shop.` Well, today they do, but we`re getting to the point where Google`s going to be wanting to not let people leave their environment and just sell your inventory directly from their site.

Never rely on Google

So, when I say, `Get stuffed, Google,` we`re talking about how much do you need to rely on Google and how do you mitigate or limit the exposure that you have on Google? It`s really important to watch. I`ve been watching it with a couple of clients this week, because we`ve had a couple of instances… not just with Google. Another one with Facebook as well. All the big ones you`ve got to watch, because if you rely on them too much, things can go horribly wrong or they can change the rules and make it horribly bad for you.

In one instance this week we had a client who lost thousands of dollars over the weekend because Google flagged their site as being malicious. It was an automatic algorithm that detected this. Of course, nothing was wrong, but no ads for about 72 hours. They came back and said, `It was fine. There was nothing wrong. How about that?` So, thanks, Google. Thanks for that. So, when I say, `Get stuffed, Google,` it`s about not relying on Google, because this sort of stuff… I think it`s crazy for the AFL to be doing this. I can`t see an upside for them, except that they`ve got Google promoting the code maybe to one of the states that doesn`t really get into it that much. Hi, New South Wales. But apart from that, I really don`t see the benefit of the AFL doing this.

So, if you are spending a lot of money on Google, if you rely on Google organic SEO… great. Pay Google for their ads. Do their SEO. Get traffic from Google, but don`t rely on it solely. Make sure you`re building a brand. Make sure you`re building a company so at some point if Google changes the rules or something happens to your site, people are still going to look for you. They`re not going to look for Google; they`re going to look for your brand. Hopefully that`s helpful, and we`ll see you next week. Thanks very much. Bye. Please leave a comment. Subscribe, tell your friends. If you watched this on YouTube or Facebook or LinkedIn, just leave a comment and wherever you watched it. I will find you there and let`s have a conversation. Speak soon. Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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