Stop Doing Stupid Niche Research
Its 2018 and your still clinging onto Niche research methods that are pre 2007 methods.
It's going onto over 10 years now since Google placed BRANDS by default on page one of their search engine.
In case you haven't heard about this, Google made a major change to their algorithm called Vincent's Change. The only major update that was not called an update.
Ask anyone about any of the Google updates and they can just about name every Google Animal update that has been released in the past 10 years.
But ask about Vincent's Change and it gets so silent you can hear the crickets in the background chirping. So little retention of this event is around why the search engine results occur as they do today.
But ask any marketer about how Google’s Search Engine is dominated with Brands and just about every time they will respond with “yea I noticed that I see lots of Brands on page one of Google”
Vincent's Change in my opinion is the biggest update, "I mean change" that affects everyone if you are going to get onto page one of the Google search results.
Back in 2008 Ad-age broke the story on how Google sold out the little guy in favor of brands.
Actions like this are not new with Google.
If you've been around long enough to remember the days Google sucked the little guy into making adsense sites to promote their adwords business and then pulled the rug out from under the people who helped build their business. You should understand that Google can't be trusted at all. They are in it to make money not to help you.
This Is How Google Works Today!
It all started around 2007 with these two guys and a secret
Eric Schmidt the CEO of Google in the image above, was holding meetings only influential people are granted, while the rest of us, the Masses had to deal with the assigned talking head Matt Cutts for Google in the image below.
Basically Google's business model changed. Google gave preferential treatment to Brand related companies as being the relevant place holders on page one of the Google Search Results.
Here is Matt's take on Vince's change (UPDATE) when he was pressed for what it means.
The Vince Update is more of a “MINOR CHANGE” as well as a "TRUST CHANGE" in terms of the ranking algorithm and brand domains.
Instead wouldn't you liked to have been the fly on the wall when Eric Schmidt the CEO of Google at that time, was discussing how Vince's Change was going to be implemented. Here's the other side of the story.
"Brands are the solution, not the problem" Mr. Schmidt said. "Brands are how you sort out the cesspool."
"All the juicy details can be Googled, its all there with all the chattering about Vince's Change."
The original story - 2008 adage.com "Google's Schmidt Says Internet 'Cesspool' Needs Brands"
But Google stood firm in it's naming of this update by calling it a minor change to their trust factors.
By now you might be wondering who’s feeding you this information within this content. I must admit in a disclosure that I have the leg up on many who want to get page one placements in Google. I’ve been at this since 1991 a dinosaurs age in internet time. I’m a software developer who creates unique and specialized software to solve problems. Prior to 2008 I had over 10 million pages up most on page one of Google so I understand how Google operates then and now. Today I am closing in on almost a Billion keywords researched since Vincent’s Change.
I eat and sleep on how to get on page one of Google so I really don’t like calling myself a SEOer, but someone who looks at data and adapts to what it takes to achieve getting on page one. I test and look at real results on how Google behaves.
I recently did a test, 10 years later to see if Vincent's Change was still in place considering many updates had transpired since 2008. I took a tiny sample of keywords just over a ½ million keywords and plotted a graph to see how widespread the dominance of brands are in Google’s search engine.
Turns out it was worst than expected.
Brands dominate over 70% of the search results for page one results in Google.
So a minor change in the algorithm of Google search still is in control of the majority of keywords any Marketer seeks for page one placement.
So what does this mean for all the updates that have occurred since 2008.
Are they in place to control the other 30% that brands don’t dominate?
Let me further define what I mean.
When you dig into this deeper to see which brands are dominating the Google Search Results it becomes difficult sorting out who is who.
Not long ago a study was done to understand how brand dominance has taken over the Google Search Results.
What was found is most of the brands on page one of Google Search are controlled by just three hands full of companies, 16 major brands overall.
The two info-graphics below illustrates the 16 companies that dominate Google search results for the most popular industries, such as technology, food, software, automotive, health etc.
Credits to Glen Allsopp
These 16 major brands have been on a buying spree gobbling up less brand related web properties and adding them to their portfolio.
In addition Brands use their own online authority and the online authority of the popular brands that operate under them, for launching new brands to rank well and generate traffic, but not without the help of Google.
Google allows Brands to bend the rules that non brands are not allowed to practice.
The Reality Is Google's Search Results Are Rigged
I am not the only person who believes this, many other top SEO’ers also share the same reality of how search results are being displayed today.
Google for years has been keeping you distracted with a zoo of animals. Each time a new update is announced you hustle to find out how they affect your rankings.
While Vincent’s Change Is Dominating Page One Results.
Brands due to their Authority break all the rules
Shady Link Building, Footer Links etc... Practices that threaten the existence of non brands if you attempt to get this by Google these days.
Page Cloaking, a long time abandoned practice, BMW was found doing this and only got a one day penalty, try this as a non brand and be prepared to be banned for life.
Page One Listings No Keywords in Content, many times just an image..., brands get the luxury of page one listings by default in their industry due to Vincent's Change.
Simple fact is Brands have a different play book to getting on Page One Of Google, than the rest of us.
Google’s algorithm updates mean very little to Brands, while we struggle in the trenches, checking and double checking if we are playing by the book.
What's that mean?
Gone are the days when, as marketers, we could SEO our selves to a page one placement with on page and off page efforts.
All is not lost, in fact many times it is much easier to get page one rankings with the new playbook of Google Search, I no longer concern myself with any Google Updates with what I know to be true.
Before I dive into how we as marketers deal with the new Google as I define it, there is a flip side to Vincent’s Change.
Generally Brand is associated with Authority, for Brands as we know them. They all started off as small entities and with time became the Authority in the space they operate. Along with that Brands are also associated with Trust, without this they could not of survived all the ups and downs of marketing forces that any business faces.
With that in mine, Trust and Authority also extends beyond Commercial Brands for what Vincent's Change represents.
For instance medical conditions is a primary example I use when explaining the positive side of Vincent’s Change. When you study the Google Search Results as long as I have, you will notice who actually is populating the search results.
Medical conditions in search are populated by Doctors, Hospitals and Health Professionals and rightly so. These days it is common for people seeking information to blurt out just Google it. So it’s no different for anyone who needs medical information to first look up what ails them before consulting a physician.
The reality is would you rather trust information written by a health professional or someone who was able to SEO their way to page one. I’m no lawyer but if someone was to take the advice of a great SEO work of art and get very ill worst yet die wouldn’t that set Google up for a law suit for not serving the best results related to the keywords someone typed into Google.
In the early days of search I dominated many Cancer terms looking to benefit monetarily from my efforts. Luckily, my conscious got the better of me to stop doing this because I had no right leading someone around for my benefits, when such a devastating disease afflicts anyone. So this is one area that I applaud the positive outcome of Vincent’s Change.
Financial information is next on the list of positive benefits, for a matter of fact any profession that requires the correct information that could prevent harm to someone. I’m glad Vincent’s Change helps prevent laymen or any person without specialized knowledge in a crutial area of expertise from potentially harming anyone.
So you see I’m not some screaming lunatic that is running around that the sky is falling.
BUT AND A BIG BUT, that does not excuse Google from giving Commercial Brands preferential treatment when anyone is competing in the same space as they do. Just because they have a bigger pocketbook it doesn’t mean the information being served is more relevant.
Lets get down how we can salvage our marketing efforts in the new world of Google.
DATA TELLING A STORY
We live in a world of rich data, and we need only to look in the right place. Knowledge is power here, and when you arm yourself with that knowledge it starts telling a story.
I'm going to plea my case on why I feel this is what you need to do now if you want to get onto page one of Google
I’m a contrarian by nature and never worry about where the crowd is going.
“We are herd animals and the temptation is always to follow the herd. I try not to.”
There's no longer any reason to guess when the evidence stares you in the face.
Many of you are too concern with the granularity of how to get onto page one of Google. It comes with myopic views that many hold onto which are outdated or not appropriate for the task at hand.
My pet peeve is how so many clinch onto data from Keyword Planner. Who cares what search volume is and a matter of fact keyword research, Google doesn't care. I don’t mean abandon keyword research but stop doing it the way it was prior to 2007.
When you abandon this outdated practice this is when you start getting traction in Google.
This is one of the few truths that Google has said over and over is don’t write for the search engines but write for the best user experience.
Just today in between writing this material, I read something about the best SEO tools out there by a very well respected SEO person ( I even read his material) who has written some phenomenal material. He was remarking how great a tool was and complained it did not reveal search volumes from Google. No wonder people get it wrong, this person was contradicting his own advice I had read multiple times in his other material.
I’m going to show you some keyword data that speaks volumes around search volume as being insignificant. Some of this data is from Google Analytic’s before they changed how they report their data.
Pay close attention to date, right around Vincent's Change along with how many visits a keyword will actually generate.
Last image I had to pull from SEMrush since Google does not reveal the keyword data anymore. For a large ecommerce site they only get 1.08984+ visits per keyword almost a one for one ratio. Still would love to get their traffic.
The point to this is Google Search Volumes don’t equate to actual results of what you will experience so why waste time on this useless practice. This is one of the many SEO, Niche/Keyword Research practices you should abandon.
I take the opposite approach, I look at what types of sites does Google put on page one and what value are they offering to anyone visiting their pages. Other than Brand preference, certain niches/keywords I've seen Google put the most relevant results on page one, no secret there. But so few practice generating relevant content instead focus on outdated SEO practices.
Bottom line getting on page one of Google is Topic and Niche driven not keyword driven today.
Without fail when I discuss this and point out that many times you will not see the keywords in the content of ranking websites of a particular search in Google. The person on the other end responds “yea I’ve seen this many times”, my response is always so why are you wasting your time with Keyword Planner and Search Volumes. Most times it’s very quiet on the other end or the response is those numbers are very enticing.
So this is the first piece of advice stop looking at Keyword Planner other than for keyword generation ideas.
This bring about the next point on what works in Google Search.
Everyone crammed into a small piece of real estate.
More than likely you have heard don’t be afraid of a niche that has a lot of competition that’s where the money is, well that’s partially right. But if your trying to be on page one that doesn’t work, all you have to do is look who occupies those spots on page one of Google and you will understand. Trying to dethrone an existing authority site in a highly competitive niche is extremely difficult when you can choose alternate methods of getting there.
Your best bet is too be creative and choose a related area and let Google do the rest.
Let me show you an example. The dating niche.
Bad selection, Divorced Dating very hard to break in. Looking at this graph left to right green easy keywords, yellow medium hard keywords takes some time and work and red almost impossible to compete against.
I looked at 363 keywords available and most of them very difficult for getting on page one. Now looking at alternate keywords but still in the dating niche the results become much easier to accomplish.
I’ve shown you just two alternate areas for dating anyone could get traction for getting on page one many more opportunities exist, ethnic dating(Jewish Singles) and alternate keywords for dating(Matchmaking) with a lot less competition. In addition you end up with many more keywords to work with, this means more opportunities.
So picking the real estate to compete is extremely important.
Next point, don’t believe what you read as fact, you need to test. Way too many people are just parroting what they read. You need to look at the actual results. I wouldn’t be telling any of this unless I actually looked at the data. You don’t have to be a scientist to do this, if you can enter a keyword and look at webpages you can do this.
It helps to use software to automate the process but for years I did this manually until I created my own automated solution.
Next model what is working. I don’t mean copy but look at what Google put on page one. I just finished doing some extensive niche research for products while looking at their content I couldn’t believe how simple the content was nothing elaborate, many of them sold or trying to sell products and they did not have a buy button anywhere on the page, go figure.
When you discover this in an area you want to be, capitalize on the mistakes. I suspect Google might of not found relevant results so it placed sites as a best fit on page one. This is another reason why it’s important to look at similar but different keywords instead of main stream that everyone else goes for.
Next point expand your world, think out of the box. What do I mean by that? I have a private mentoring group and the first time I speak to anyone who whats in they have to go thru an exercise to get the point across of thinking out of the box.
There is many trend websites out there, I’m on the mailing list for many of them. I look at trends. We all live in a closed environment no matter who your are. I continually and encourage anyone to constantly look at what happens for trends this is why I am on multiple mailing lists for them. You would be surprised what people buy and do, it’s impossible to be knowledgeable unless you’re expose to other peoples thoughts and experiences.
Doing this keeps you in the front of what’s happening, so you can jump on what is hot when it happens. It’s like investing in stocks if we all knew about the great stocks to own when they were at their lowest you be rich beyond imagination. Invest some time up front and be where others are not for niches.
Last point I am going to make, there is more but I’m am cutting it short for the scope of this article. Pay close attention to this advice it’s the most important point I am going to make.
Focus on strategy not tactics.
Every person I’ve coached has come to me after they chased the latest and greatest shiny new object they have been buying. Just about every technique for marketing works the downside is that it is only one part of the puzzle. You must have a strategy to win in this game of marketing.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say your a general in the army and your goal is to take a hill the enemy occupies. The strategy is over take the hill to rid the enemy. Now comes the tactics, you may send snipers to one side, send tanks up the other side, bomb them from the air etc… get the point those are your tactics.
When your buying those shiny new objects they are tactics by themselves they will not achieve your long term goals. Now have a strategy in place on how your going to use those tactics you will become a person that becomes unstoppable.
To recap what I recommend in today’s Google's
- Stop looking at keyword planner data
- Focus on strategy not tactics
- Think out of the box
- Don’t believe what you read test it
- Don’t compete in unrealistic real estate for niches
- Look at real Google Search results and model what works
Lastly Vincent’s Change is still alive and controls the search results not Google’s Zoo.