SEO & Popularity

by Jim March 19, 2019

As great as Google is as a search engine, it isn’t without its flaws. One such flaw is its use of social proof and popularity to return search results. Unfortunately this is why results often miss the target leaving you scratching your head. Some people claim that the only people that are successful on Google are ex-Google engineers that can manipulate the SEO. I disagree, as accurate search results are more than just strong SEO.

What I learned

  • Google’s algorithm doesn’t always deliver accurate results
  • Why you don’t have to manipulate Google
  • Your site needs the 3 pillars of Google
  • Grow your brand for success
  • Don’t forget the SEO basics


Hey welcome back Rankers! Do you like my phone? Kids this is a phone. It’s what we used to talk to people on. It used to cost money. You used to go down to the shop, put your money in there, turn this around, look this … this thing. So we’ve got the numbers here. Weird, huh?

SEO is not manipulation
I want to tell you a little bit about popularity and Google. There was a conversation I had last week with Stephan on Twitter along with John Mu and I just want to demonstrate something first before we got into that. This is an Australian red pay phone, 1979. I know, before a lot of you were born. I’ve had it in the shed for about 20 years and decided to clean it up on the weekend. I was looking forward to seeing if I could get some keys to unlock the thing because I want to get inside it and clean it out and see if there’s any interesting coins in the coin box. Stuff like that. Probably just be full of washers.

I started to do the search on Google and this is incognito. So this is “Australian red pay phone unlock.” So immediately Google says to me, “Jim did you mean Australian red phone unlock cause I think you’re looking for a mobile solution, is that right?” No Google. It’s not. This is all the results that I’ve got. This is all about unlocking a mobile phone and getting off a contract, IME codes, all this stuff. None of those things does this phone have any idea of, okay? It doesn’t know what you’re talking about. So then I go across to and we talked about DuckDuckGo last week and to me it’s a really good example, exact search and I haven’t restricted it to Australia either but it’s giving me Australian results, cause I’ve got “Australian red payphone unlock.”

This site here, these first two sites have been bang on what I was looking for. Bang on and that’s the difference with Google’s search engine in that it uses this concept of popularity or social proof as part of the metric in order to give a more relevant result to users. In this case, it ain’t working. So what was the conversation I had with Stephan? The reason I tell you this story is Stephan came out to John Mu on Twitter and said the only people who can do SEO or manipulate Google are the ex-Google engineers who can do SEO.

John Mu came back and said SEO’s not about manipulating Google. They can’t actually do that. All they can do is make sites better for the search engines to understand, interpret, and all those sorts of things. Give users a better experience. When I hear what’s on the end of that, a question like that, is usually because he’s had trouble getting ranked. So I just said, “Have you got a site you want me to have a look at and I’ll have a look at it?” So I went and had a look and Stephan was showing me he’s getting some great traffic there. He’s done a really good job. It’s really fast. He’s obviously a smart coder or smart bloke. He’s built a pretty functional site from what I can tell. The problem though is when we go and have a look at the site, this is the home page, and I’m not presented with any level of trust or any level of integrity of the data that I happen to be looking at.

Grow your brand
This is all calendar-based stuff. It’s date stuff. It’s holidays and all these sorts of things. I have to know that I can trust that data, but there’s nothing there to give me that. There’s nothing there to say that you are the authority or that you have the expertise to deliver these things. The three pillars of Google right? So I look at that and I go I don’t know. And what you’re looking to do, this might function really well. It might be getting good traffic, but if you want this to spread and to become popular, you’ve got to grow the brand. This site is devoid of any brand, right? The reason that you need a brand is because you need people to associate your brand with this strong content, this fast site, this reliable content. That’s what you’re looking to do.

Now one of the ways that you can do that simply is start advertising somewhere. Wherever your audience is. People go, “Oh god, I’ve got to do content marketing to build my brand.” Well content marketing can be taking out ads on YouTube or something, anything right? You’re just trying to get the message in front of your audience wherever they may be. Once you start growing that brand and getting more people associating your brand with the key search criteria that you want to rank for, so if it’s shoes then you want to be ‘Windsor Smith Shoes’ or whatever.

You want people to be typing in your brand and then the keyword. Now one of the ways that you can measure this to see how you’re going, one way or the other, is just go into Google Search Console, use Google search analytics, and what you’re looking for is a rising number of people typing and searching for your brand. Once you start to see people searching for your brand, then it’s going to be a whole lot easier for you to rank. Now in the meantime of course, you’ve got to do all the things that are technical SEO. You still have to go and make the site fast if it’s not already and Stephan is a smart bloke, he’s coded it well from what I can tell anyway. You need to go and get the Google index cleaned up. You need to go and fix all the errors inside Google Search Console. You need to make sure your mobile usability is great.

All these things have to be done. But you do those things, but you don’t worry about Google cause the reason that you’re doing those things is because you’re doing them for the user. Hopefully that’s helpful and we’ll see you next week, I’m going to make a few phone calls. Thanks so much, bye!

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

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