Webmasters worldwide have been scrabbling over the past couple of years to get to the top of search engine rankings. People are using “Search Engine Optimisation” techniques to help boost their appearance in search results.

For many people, though, search is becoming “old hat”. Millions now rely not on search, but on recommendations through social bookmarking sites like Digg or via social networking groups such as Facebook or Ecademy. That’s largely because our contacts and even people we don’t know are better at recommending sites that could be useful to us than a computer “alogorithm”, no matter how “clever” it is. Deep inside the human brain the billions and billions of neuronal connections still outperform any computer.

Also, millions of people rely on “Google Alerts“. This services gives you links to sites for the keywords and topics you are interested in. You don’t have to use Google Search any more – using a range of tools, Google emails you what you need to know.

Now, you may have noticed, Google has changed its search results page and has inserted some icons which allow you to personalise things. You can, for instance, promote a search item embedded way down into the results, right to the Number One position. You can also exclude certain sites. In other words, Google is saying “our search results are probably not what you really want, so go ahead and put things in any order you like”. Not only is the new personalisation an admission of failure of their famed algorithm, it also means the SEO is now a huge waste of time. You will pay to get to the top of the rankings, but people the world over will be able to delete you from their Google results page. No matter how good your site is at getting to Google’s Number One slot – people can still choose to ignore your site and make it invisible.

It’s all more evidence that people are better than Google. And that means if you want your business to succeed online in the coming difficult years ahead, you need to focus your strategy on getting people to recommend you, rather than Google.

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