When Google Doesn’t Matter Anymore

Google is shuffling search results in a big way these days, especially for local keywords.  Its not that the rankings are changing per se, but that the make up of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) is varied.  Sometimes the top portion of the page is dominated by local listings, sometimes by regular organic listings.

As Google Places took hold and became a big part of local SEO programs, the local listings and the associated map was seen more and more at the top of the SERPs.

Over the past several months, Google seems to be subordinating some local (map) results to regular organic listings, even when just several weeks ago, they showed the local results at the top with regularity.

Now we’re seeing Google reviews disappearing, address and map info displayed for long-abandoned locations, defunct phone numbers appearing in results and all manner of crazy listing information.  See, Google is trying desperately to move Places to Google+Local and get all the data associated with legacy accounts moved properly.  It’s a bit of a mess.

So, why does this matter?

There is a case to be made that close observation of rankings and the content therein matters because it will help SEO professionals better understand how Google is modifying search results to improve quality, and thus will be able to better help clients rank well and get more qualified traffic.

Or it could be like chasing a squirrel around the backyard with a tennis racket.

When Google search results are erratic at best, they become something to ignore.

I’m not suggesting that SEO should be ignored, or that best practices should be ignored.  But I am suggesting that watching what Google does with your search results – particularly with keyword ranking – can be pointless.

Instead, we should focus on understanding fundamentals of online marketing and working the various tactics that meet established goals like content development and syndication, social engagement, and developing a web-based sales funnel.

Then, trend these things instead of  how a given keyword is ranking.

My opinion is that if you’re executing a coherent online marketing strategy, your keyword rankings will take care of themselves.

If you’re doing all the right things, Google rankings no longer matter.