Ultimately the best lesson to learn in business is that your strengths are also your weakness. Google, which so easily gets the web, missed out the social network explosion because it was focused on its core competency (search) and was finding it difficult to switch from a vertical it controlled and which was accessed through clicks to a medium which created interactivity, user-generated content and which encouraged participation. Google+ is amazing precisely because it represents not just great functionality and an easy interface to use (these bits are technical and easily within the province of, even, Microsoft) but because it represents a massive conceptual leap for the search giant.
The other day when I woke up I had a personality crisis. No, I did not go psychotic, started thinking about the boiling of bunnies or wonder what the world would look like should the holocaust happen in the next hour. But I did wonder what I was doing with my life and it kinda killed me.
Technology probably started to change us the moment we stooped down to pick up a rock and weigh it up for throwing. As humans we have the ability to use technology to short-circuit biology and evolution, augment our strengths and lessen our weaknesses and the way we use the web and search is no exception.
It’s just ten days since Google+ became a reality (by invitation only still) and in that time it has doubled in numbers (though there is no way to know the initial uptake) and created a wow phenomenon in the blogosphere.
Every time we enter a new crisis point the world changes. Back in ’87 (yeah, last century – totally) Black Monday created pressures for the Stock Market reform and pushed through computerisation as a way of seeing what was happening in the world of trade, quickly enough, to be able to avert disasters.
The reason we need SEO is because without it, nothing would really be visible on the web the way it should. Because it’s human nature we also try to squeeze as much additional exposure out of it as we can without crossing into the ‘dark side’ of Google’s penalties which can seriously affect a company’s ability to draw traffic from the web and damage its bottom line.
As I am writing this the soft-launch of Google+ is just a day old and the blogosphere and Twitter are abuzz with opinions, ideas and assessments. The nay-sayers remember Google’s failed attempts to create social networks before. Google Wave fizzed out and Google Buzz is, well, there. While, it’s true that Google failed with these it’s important to remember a couple of important facts.
As an author I get hundreds of emails each week telling me how useful one of my books has been, making suggestions for titles or content and asking questions.
Success stories always catch my attention because they are the litmus test by which many of the practical books I write, are judged by. This one happened to come on a day when I was swamped with requests for articles and the sheer pressure involved in completing the edits for my next book were taking their toll and I was beginning to lose perspective.
One of the subjects I frequently get emailed about is authors asking me how to promote their book using SEO. SEO Help has been on the Amazon best-selling charts for 79 weeks since it was published. At the time of writing it is#32 at Amazon.co.uk, #36 at Amazon.com and #54 in Amazon.ca. Online Marketing Help is #27 at Amazon.ca and in the top 50 in the UK and the US and Brilliant SEO is at #65 in the UK a full dozen days before it even became available to buy.
As I am writing this it’s Friday. The week has been hectic and I am preparing for the Google conference in Manchester. There are dozens of details which need to be finalized, I started the day with over 50 emails which will need to be answered, a magazine is asking me for an article on search and a website I usually write for has launched a new section on social media for which they have asked for content.