Who is in charge of your website? Probably, you think you are – but actually that’s not true. In fact, if your website is successful your visitors are in charge. After all, if you don’t provide what they want, they will not return, nor will they buy from you. That means to succeed you have to do what they want you to do – even if you don’t always agree. But a new patent application from Google suggests that some of the control you do have could be removed by the Internet giant.
Here’s what Google wants to do. They want to read your web pages before they are delivered to your visitors. And then, once they have worked out what your site is about, Google wants to insert links they think will be useful to people, based upon the text of your pages. Clearly that’s a clever bit of technology and no doubt the patent will be granted because it uses unique systems, largely based around the Google Toolbar.
But who should be in charge of the links YOUR pages deliver? One of the reasons comparatively few web pages actually contain Google AdSense is because of the lack of complete control over which adverts appear. True, you can minimise the risks by preventing certain advertisers from displaying their wares, but you do not have total control. So, include the following sentence and imagine what you might get in terms of advertising appearing on your page: hardcore railway enthusiasts have revealed that it doesn’t matter what sex you are, trains are the best method of travelling. Er..get my drift? The brilliance of the Google system is not that discerning and many businesses have switched off the advertising – me included – because of the unwanted advertising that appears.
So why will “ordinary” links be any different? Your pages could carry links to sites that neither you nor your visitors actually want. Presumably the links you choose to include on your web pages are those which your visitors will find most useful. And which ones will Google think will be the most useful do you reckon? They will be the sites whose “title tags” closely match the most popular keywords which appear in the text of your page.
But look at this from a different point of view. Consider now someone else’s web page with links added by Google. Wouldn’t you want to be the link added automatically? And how do you think you are going to get it? By being NUMBER ONE on Google’s search engine ranking for the keywords on the page. In other words, it is no longer going to be good enough to be on the front page of Google results – Google will not add a list of links to a web page, just one – perhaps two – for each keyword. That means your web pages are only going to get promoted via this new Google system if you are Numero Uno. Being in the top three is no longer good enough.
You have a choice. You can think this latest patent application from Google is a further attempt to control the Internet. Or you can take advantage of it by ensuring you are at Number One for your keywords, thereby gaining links in websites you hadn’t even heard of. I predict a whole new industry “Google Link Optimization” and people asking you how well you are GLOing…!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+