Google vs. The Great Copy Machine in the Sky

Google vs. The Great Copy Machine in the Sky

What’s the secret to dominating online? Prioritize user experience. Your website's success hinges on its quality, not gimmicks. Don't settle for mediocrity; invest in a site that shines. Your SEO strategy starts with a stellar website. Make it count.

The internet has been referred to as the largest copy machine that humanity has ever produced. In fact, this is by design. The internet copies every character, every action and every thought we make while surfing. To send a single message across the web actually requires that the entire message is copied dozens of times as every bit must pass through software, memory, cache, servers, routers and back again at least.

The internet is uncompromising and relentless in its pursuit of copying. Songs, photos, movies, data, books; if it touches the web, it will be copied. Our modern economy operates almost entirely through this freely flowing river of copies. It was even carefully engineered so that each copy moves through the network with as little friction as possible. Almost by accident, this super-human knowledge distribution system has become foundational to our lives, and once content is introduced, it continues to flow through the network forever.

Free and Ubiquitous Flips the Narrative

People are often surprised to learn that lobster used to be considered peasant food. In medieval times, as people became more important to the nobility, they would be able to negotiate down the number of times per week that they would be fed lobster. Now that lobster is scarcer, it’s considered a luxury.

What’s crazy is that the inverse is true as well. When electrical lighting was scarce and brand new, only the poor burned candles at night. Once electricity became practically free and ubiquitous, candles at the dinner table became a sign of luxury. So, what does this mean now that an ocean of free copies has undermined the established order of copyrights and content ownership?

Google’s Grand Dilemma

When thinking through Google’s position, we always want to keep in mind what they want. Essentially, they want the internet to be incredibly useful so that people spend a lot of time on it. This keeps their advertising empire producing 77% of their total revenue. It matters.

Over the last few years, Google has been communicating with webmasters much more clearly about what they want. There isn’t as much testing required these days when it comes to SEO because now Google regularly spills the beans on developers. We can simply read what they say about what they want to see from webmasters on Google’s developers blog.

Another Spam Update

Google just updated their spam policies and introduced a core update to the algorithm. Read more about them here:

https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2024/03/core-update-spam-policies

Some of these updates are targeting things that many dealers do themselves or buy from seemingly “white hat” SEO companies. Since the introduction of Spam Brain AI in 2021, Google has been fighting hard to remove and penalize content that is “created for search engines instead of people.” This includes any content made to rank for specific keywords. Think wall of text. It doesn’t matter if a human wrote it or not, Google wants to get rid of doorway pages that are made to rank for keywords but do not provide anything helpful to humans. This actually has nothing to do with AI, human or robot-human hybrid content. If it’s not useful and unique, Google doesn’t want it clogging up the pipes.

Side point: even if you successfully ranked a wall of junk for a specific search term, is that how you want your business to be represented online? What if an actual human actually finds it? Is that really going to endear them to your company and lead to a sale?

Specifically, Google wants to “reduce unoriginal content in search results and keep the lowest-quality content out of search.” They also want to remove pages that “have a poor user experience.” As a heuristic, you should simply consider anything that seems easy or mass produced to be a bad idea and potentially dangerous to your web and floor traffic.

Second side point: backlinks won’t save a garbage website that is covered in spam. Always assume that Google can see your link footprint and can figure out what you’re doing.

What’s a Girl to Do?

Consider the inverse of what Google doesn’t want and the point becomes clear. Create original content. The point of all your content should be to help humans. If you are writing, try to find an angle that has not been hit before and write with a purpose. That purpose could be to get them into your store. It could be to help them to make sense of your dealership, your services and your process.

Think about it this way, when all the copies are free, you want to be selling something that can’t be reproduced at scale. For example, trust cannot be reproduced in bulk. Neither can immediacy or personalization. I don’t know of any way to copy authenticity, discoverability, in-person interactions, loyalty or patronage. If you are insisting on writing content for SEO purposes, be sure to follow the advice above and remember to review Google’s spam policies now and whenever they update again.

Great News!

I tell dealers all the time that you are already in the content creation business. And you are creating the content that Google rewards! Google wants useful and original content that helps humans. This should not require an on-staff writer. Your well-merchandised inventory is the content that Google actually wants. By taking good photos and delivering clear pricing expectations, you are already in the content creation game, and you are creating all the content that you should ever need to rank well in organic search.

What’s Left? If you want an unfair advantage online, you must provide a great user experience and that responsibility is on your webmaster. If your website stinks, you need a new one. No amount of good merchandising, spam or links are going to help your poorly organized website with a crappy user experience. Your site is the foundation of your SEO strategy, and you should be uncompromising with its quality. Good luck. Cheers.

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