I was thinking the other day about how influencing search engines is like influencing people. Short of brute force and absolute control, you can't force anyone to do your bidding. With search engines, you might make a spam brute force attack, but that will be short lived. And absolute control? Well, no one has that, not even Google engineers, unless they all got together in a drunken binge and decided to reprogram the algorithm collectively.

Brute force and seeking absolute control are temporary measures at best. Eventually there will be an uprising and you'll be shock-and-awed into a big heaping pile of disaster. Not a good way to go.

And this is why SEOs can't guarantee rankings. The only way to provide any kind of ranking guarantee is to be your own little Google dictator. And, since Google has far more money, resources, and political connections... all I can say is "good luck with that!"

So where does that leave you? Well, persuading search engines is a bit like persuading people. You gotta get your "A" game and go on the charm offensive. But, no matter how good you are, at the end of the day, you have to know you can't force anyone to do what you want. But you can hope to convince them.

How good of an SEO someone is depends on how good they are at convincing the search engines to do what they (you) want. The decision is completely up the search engines. No matter what, they have final say. The trick is to get them to want to give you the outcome you want.

The romance analogy comes in handy when talking to people about search engine rankings, guarantees, and whatnot. They want the SEO to guarantee that he/she can get them rankings, but there is no such guarantee. The SEO can merely attempt to persuade. No matter how good you are, you won't convince the engines to always do what you want with every keyword.

SEO, like romance, is a process. You don't knock someone head over heals one day and they'll forever eat out of your hands, sending you little hearts or flowers. You have to put forth the effort to keep them interested.

In some cases, it takes a while. Love at first site is very rare. In many cases even "like" at first sight is rare. Build a good site, and Google gets interested. But, you'll still have a lot of romancing to do to get them to really like you. And, you have to commit to get them to love you. If you're not willing to commit to the process, then maybe you're just not worthy of Google's love.

Google isn't just any girl. She's currently the hottest girl in the room. The girl every guy is trying to court for their keywords. That means romancing her isn't going to come easy. If you're working on low competitive keywords, Google may be a cheap date. But, once there are plenty of suitors to choose from... well, a date on a fast food budget just isn't going to do. You need to show her that you're willing to spend time and money (in this case, perhaps paying someone to SEO your site properly) to prove that you're serious.

It's hard to convince Google that you're the one for her when there are dozens of others putting in far greater effort in building a good website and marketing it properly. You can't just come in off the street in your work clothes and say, "Here I am baby, let's rock this joint!"

It all comes down to persuasion. No forcing, no guarantees... just good, old-fashioned hard work to build a great site and investment in strong marketing. These things will not only get Google to take notice, but she may just consider you a bonafide suitor.

November 12, 2010

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


I think the whole world is about sick of 90% of the SEO's out there who make life less bearable for the rest of us trying to make a living. What happened to best practice, strategy, life cycle, accountability, communication, and creative thought?

To be honest, I spent an hour today at blekko.com, created a few slash tags and did a few queries with date and topic tags and think I'm on to something here. Google beware. Got to click SEO under my competitor listings and saved myself a trip to OSE, comparison data and everything - very cool stuff.

What's yet to be determined is if technology and marketing can grow together, particularly in large organizations. If colleges and tech schools can teach SEO at an early stage, maybe these departments can play together better and improve the overall community around search marketing. Doubtful, considering some marketing people are married to full flash still and some tech guys are married to propriety CMS builds that don't accommodate SEO.

It all comes down to persuasion. You're so right, and just CTR either. Great post Stoney.

Great post. But there are certain things I get confused about. Like Why Google is in so much love with that ugly scraper site mahalo.com

Mahalo is a horrible date She could ever get :)

LOL. I think we just have to assume that sometimes Google gets so wasted she doesn't realize what she's sleeping with.

Google may be the hottest girl in the room, but she can still go on a few million dates a night.

If you can't get a date to the opera, why not try for a few dates to McDonalds. ;)

Warning - About to take analogy too far

Maybe Google should come out with it's own "sexual offender list" or Dateline NBC can start producing "To Catch a Spammer"

Chris Hansen - What are you doing here?
Spammer - I swear I just came to talk to Google.
Chris Hansen - Why do you have paid links and comment generators in your pocket? Not to mention your anchor text distribution looks really suspicious.
Spammer - I swear, I just wanted to talk.
Chris Hansen - You do realize Google is only 12 years old?

I agree with your post. Google is the most difficult search engine to please. Most of my clients want to rank in it. The problem is, Google is really strict when it comes to SEO. Oh well, at least get my website listed is I think enough. Right now, I am optimizing branded scrubs like dickies scrubs and cherokee scrubs. It's really difficult to find sites related to these topics that have good ranks and are do follow.

I totally subscribe to this concept - and Steve's earlier comments. To many SEOs who are spammers really promising top of google ranking when this is only acheivable so quickly with black hat techniques or playing the volume game. Much better to woo google properly!


Very well written. I do a ton of work on Freelance sites and always see the SEO's guaranteeing a top ranking keyword(s). I just don't know how you can go around promising people a #1 spot when you can't really control this to an extent.

I never make the promise all though most of my clients keywords usually do get first page or even top spots.

I LOVE this post! I'm learning about SEO for my masters, and this post (as well as many others I've read) is fabulous: clear, informative, easy to follow. You wooed me, Stoney! :)

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