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|The Importance of Humility in SEO|
Let's face, there is only one person in the world with the "highest IQ". For the rest of us, we are not the smartest person around. For most of us, the average search engineer at Google IS smarter than we are. Fact - it's a job I can't do. I don't think I could even get through the first interview.
So we need to stay realistically humble when we analyze what Google is doing or even trying to do. Otherwise we're going to make TERRIBLE SEO DECISIONS, based on our own blind spots rather than the real situation. Or even worse, we'll spend all kinds of energy assuming we can't do anything about our situation. Then we just whine and wring our hands, but we don't start winning again.
The biggest error I've seen is assuming we can read the hidden intentions of any other individual, and especially those of a corporation. This is dangerous territory. It's where we have a strong tendency to project our own hidden character onto another, rather than seeing the situation clearly. And with so many people inside a corporation affecting the group's action, it gets even worse.
For me, doing good SEO work means accepting and knowing that these two shortfalls are mine: I'm not the smartest cookie in the jar, and I can make big mistakes trying to read the motives of others.
By admitting that others are smarter than I am, I am challenged to continue to learn new things. So I study patents from Google, Bing and other Information Retrieval scientists. They are doing the hard work that's on the edge of human cultural change - and I want to know at least something about it at that purist level.
Then the science work gets translated into a pubic search engine service through a large company - because that job TAKES big resources these days. Cuill learned that lesson!
So I do try not to project my own shortcomings onto that corporation. Corporations in any field are a human challenge whenever they hit a certain scale. New effects appear that can look like "evil". Google is doing better than most at keeping that cr@p under control, but still they do create some effects that can feel harsh on a personal level.
It's easy, in a frustrating situation, to lose track of the fact that Google doesn't focus on me - that they're focus is on THEIR user base, just as my focus should be on mine. Emotion will not resolve an SEO problem - that's a fact!
And for me, this approach has worked so far. I have a career that feels like a blessing most of the time. And I can stay relatively balanced at work and still "have a life", too.
We are all in a competitive-cooperative ecology with Google. It's not just a competitive or cooperative situation - it's both, all the time. That much understanding, just on its own, has enough to humble me and keep me from becoming either a fanboy or a whining critic. It keeps me in a place where I can be productive.
I hope that sharing my thoughts on these issues can also help you.
[edited by: tedster at 12:24 am (utc) on Sep 25, 2012]
A good read :)
On the comment: "For most of us, the average search engineer at Google IS smarter than we are", I'd just add that logic and common sense don't necessarily go hand in hand ;) Remember Nasa's Mars "Climate Orbiter" mission? One team working on it used metric units of measurement while another used Imperial. Unsurprisingly, it never made it to Mars. D'oh!
Bottom line is G is a business and as far as I am concerned, where SERPS are concerned they are free to make their own bed how they see fit. And I'm grateful for whatever traffic I can get to be honest. Without G, I wouldn't be sitting here typing this right now.
Where I perhaps have some issues is on privacy, wanting to know a bit too much about me for comfort from time to time but again, I have a choice.
On the competition front...yes, but be careful what you wish for IMO.
I think we shouldn't get bogged down in the discussion of smarts. Some people here probably ARE as smart as Google engineers, but nobody knows everything, and everyone is capable of mistakes. And as others pointed out, those brilliant Google engineers may get overridden by dull-witted middle managers. So, smart isn't a cure-all.
Maybe a better way to look at it is that taking it personally doesn't help you understand what's happening with Google. Because the "what" is all that matters - that's what you have to respond to. The "why" isn't important at all, except when it helps you understand the "what."
I actually have a pretty low opinion of Google - I think they play dirty. But I don't take it personally. I just try to construct an educated guess about where Google's going, and how it affects me. Because that's really all I care about - my ability to make money with, without, around or in spite of Google.
RELEVANT ANALOGY: IMHO :)
Usain Bolt from Jamaica won 3 Gold medals in London 2012
Each time he won, the first none Jamaican sprinter across the line after him was from USA
On one ocassion the first none Jamaican Sprinter was 4th
The USA 100 metres coach turns up at his first training session dressed in a Jamaican flag, puts up a poster of Usain Bolt and says to the USA sprinters starting training for Rio 2016
"You'll start every training day by bowing in respectful homage to this poster of Usain Bolt, you know, the Chap who made sure we didn't win any of the Blue ribbon sprint events"
I guess what passes for a USA Olympics committee would be delighted.
That is the essence of the OP for this thread.
And no, i am not joking nor in my opinion making a smartass comment :)
Thanks Tedster. Those are words of wisdom.
As you mention most of us are in the same boat. We interpret based on what we see and hear.
The common bond with successful people is that they believe they can thrive in areas where there is cooperation and competition.
The common bond with no-so-successful people is that they blame others for their failures, and complain.
Surfing the wave of change is where we need to be - whether in business, or life. After all, live is and will always be about change.
Embrace that - and you will likely ALWAYS do well.
scooterdude, your analogy is totally wrong.
In your analogy, the Usain character would be Amazon, or Wikipedia. No one is saying that we should show undue respect for them. Study them for techniques to emulate, sure. Recognise the "physical" attributes that gives them an inherent advantage that you must work even harder to overcome, of course.
Google is more like the IOC and (for this Olympics) LOCOG, acting omnipotently, playing by special rules, handing out bans etc.
Of course, IOC and LOCOG expressly favour their paid advertisers (sponsors), whereas Google would never do that.
We can't hope to know more than the collective resources of google but we can hope to understand the way they think and the direction google is going in.
Everything I learned about SEO since 2002 has been turned on its head for me in the last couple of months. Things changed big time a few years ago but I didn't see it, and then google brought in Panda to magnify that change and now I see how different things really are.
I like scooterdudes Olympics analogy but I see Bolt as the website at the top rather than google. He's the big brand that made his name because he's unique in many ways. If I wanted to beat Bolt I'd study every minute thing he does and try to do it better. His fellow Jamaican runner Blake works very hard at that but lacks the uniqueness of Bolt so can only come second to him. That is SEO in 2012 but it's just the way life works, no big secret.
Oh dear, examine what you've just posted, if you compare Google to the IoC, you've Just said that "no one" competes with them, they're are the governing body.
Does this imply the webmasters hav mentally surrendered supremacy to Google? Well , this thread is kinda lends credence to that supposition
Google is not the webmasters friend
Google owes webmasters nothing more than it legally obliged to hand over
Webmasters, AFAIK owe Google no more than Google owes them
However, webmasters nilly willy submit reconsideration requests which include a check box that states that
"The agree to abide by google website guidelines in the future"
Thereby entering into what on the face of it , could be considered a one way contract in favour of google, for zero promise of quantifiable consideration(monetary or similar reward)
Ahhh, i give up
[edited by: scooterdude at 7:56 am (utc) on Aug 16, 2012]
|I believe that if and when there is no longer a cooperative component, this will be the opportunity for a true competitor to Google to finally emerge. |
For several years I have been promoting the idea of Internet search being taken out of the hands of companies with commercial interests. What has been happening more recently has done nothing to alter my opinion.
Nothing is stopping someone setting up a competing athletic movement. Indeed, you could argue there are many, many competing competitions (various continental or world championships, world series etc). Its just the Olympics is the one that everyone cares about.
"Oh dear, examine what you've just posted, if you compare Google to the IoC, you've Just said that "no one" competes with them, they're are the governing body."
No, I pointed our your analogy was wrong and suggesting a more accurate version, but hey it's fun to defend a flawed analogy from the person who originally created it. Thus... Google are the governing body of their own results. You can chose not to compete in the Olympics, but then you get no gold medals.
Personally, I think a similar analogy using FIA / Formala 1 works much better, but unfortunately F1 does not have a large following in the US.
In Formula 1, a body that is very much accused of having favourites hands out demotions and time penalties in a more-or-less abitrary way. Some competitors feel discriminated against, while other flagrant infractions go unpunished. Every now and again, there is talk of a breakaway competition, but somehow it never quite happens.
Cooperation-based, open-source search engines that were done with non-commercial interests have been around for some time, but none that I would know of took off. Perhaps a good bridge to the opening statement of this thread.
That's a whole new debate but the central reasons why they never took off were simple. The operators failed to monetise them sufficiently to cover costs and the operators were unable to deal with junk and spam in the SERPs.
|Cooperation-based, open-source search engines that were done with non-commercial interests have been around for some time, but none that I would know of took off. Perhaps a good bridge to the opening statement of this thread. |
|Things changed big time a few years ago but I didn't see it, and then google brought in Panda to magnify that change and now I see how different things really are. |
I think my first glimpse of this "new world" came with the descriptions of the Caffeine infrastructure. It's not just the size and the speed that Google built here, but the outrageous flexibility that stunned me. This is not your daddy's database!
The Caffeine infrastructure created a foundation for outrageous data mining and machine learning - way beyond other data monsters and machine learning, like IBM's Watson. For those that have the stomach for some in-depth tech, I strongly suggest digging into some of the key background. This begins in 2003 - before Caffeine got its name, but when there was already a call for 100x more scalability at Google:
Google File System Eval: Part I [storagemojo.com]
Google File System Eval: Part II [storagemojo.com]
...and our thread:
Google Updates and SERP Changes - October 2009 [webmasterworld.com]
There is always thin line between smarter and smartest :)
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