On Tuesday, Google released their SEO Report Card where they did an extensive evaluation of themselves in terms of search engine optimization. The result? Well, not so good. Even Business Insider agrees that Google fails to eat their own dog food by noting that only 10% of their own product pages conform to the proper title tag protocol. Even if you type in “search engine” into Google, they come up as the 5th result, and it’s not even google.com, but a different beta product. I wonder if that’s on purpose.
So if Google sucks at SEO, why do their other products rank #1 for so many search terms? Is Google using their own algorithm on their products, or are they overriding it when it’s convenient?
Search for “apps.” Google Apps is the top listing, not Apple.
Search for “documents.” Google Docs is the top listing, beating out several government related sites.
Search for “video.” The number one position? Google Video. Who the hell uses that anymore? And where is the Google-owned YouTube? Maybe again, this is on purpose.
So, is it possible that Google is purposely not listing themselves on keywords such as “search engine” and “video” to deter attention, and then quietly ranking themselves number one for all of their other products? Sure it is. The search giant, according to HitsLink who publishes search engine market share data, is still commanding an 86% market share for search, and are clearly using the “freemium” model to get high adoption rates on their free products so you’ll eventually buy their advertising – their cash cow. Compare that to Bing’s 3.4% market share despite the millions they’ve been spending in advertising. Nobody seemed to switch overnight from Google to Bing.
Nevertheless, the Google SEO Report Card gives insight into what the search engine thinks is important. Here are a few highlights:
1. Google does not consider the meta description for rankings. It is purely for humans to read what the page is about, so you should write those to grab attention, not to rank higher. (Although, we still see the search keyword highlighted in SERP, so we’re not totally convinced it’s worthless).
2. Google finally says how site links are determined. Ever notice those listings that have links to the site under the title and description? They say that using a hierarchial site structure, descriptive anchor text and avoiding deep nesting of content behind many sub-directories will get you there.
3. Clearly, duplicate content is an issue. In the report, they stress the importance of using the rel=”canonical” attribute to determine the preferred page. They prefer that you consolidate your non-canonical versions and 301 direct them to the canonical version. Of course, that screws up your tracking in Analytics if you are creating multiple instances of a page for marketing – it won’t track visitors on a page before the 301 redirect.