Google Is Smarter Than You

Aug 15, 2012 • 8:45 am | comments (27) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

SmartTed Ulle, Tedster in WebmasterWorld, a person I highly respect in the industry, wrote a heart-felt post in the forums.

He basically explained why SEOs should be humble in what they do and be cautious in how they view Google's changes and think deeper in how they deploy their SEO decisions. Why? Because Google is smarter than most of you and definitely smarter than Ted or myself.

I know many many SEOs that tried to work at Google and have failed throughout the interview process. Many of those people are probably smart enough but don't necessarily have the culture Google is also looking for in a candidate. But working for Google and working as an engineer for Google is totally different.

Do you understand what goes into Google's algorithms? I understand it at a high level but the details and how they work, not you or I can build it. Maybe a few people at Google can comprehend the whole thing but it is much larger than one person. Thing is, Google as a whole is way smarter than you or I.

Ted sums much of this up well in this one line, where he says Google focuses on their users, you should do the same:

It's easy, in a frustrating situation, to lose track of the fact that Google doesn't focus on me - that they're focus is on THEIR user base, just as my focus should be on mine. Emotion will not resolve an SEO problem - that's a fact!

Now, why is this important for SEOs? There is a bigger picture here and you must educate yourself constantly to get a glimpse of just a small piece of the puzzle. You or I will never understand it all, heck - no one really does. The closest person to who may understand all the pieces is Amit Singhal at Google but outside of him, maybe very few.

Ted explains the SEO implications:

So we need to stay realistically humble when we analyze what Google is doing or even trying to do. Otherwise we're going to make TERRIBLE SEO DECISIONS, based on our own blind spots rather than the real situation. Or even worse, we'll spend all kinds of energy assuming we can't do anything about our situation. Then we just whine and wring our hands, but we don't start winning again.

The biggest error I've seen is assuming we can read the hidden intentions of any other individual, and especially those of a corporation. This is dangerous territory. It's where we have a strong tendency to project our own hidden character onto another, rather than seeing ther situation clearly. And with so many people inside a corporation affecting the group's action, it gets even worse.

I suspect this might make for a good SEO discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to ShutterStock for smart image

Previous story: Google+ Shows Maps For Posts With Locations


Roie S

08/15/2012 01:10 pm

I strongly disagree with that statement - Google algo is indeed illusive, but certainly not smart - as numerous crappy serps show. IT is optimized to make money and scrape content - it is not optimized for their user base (10 blue links, really - like it's still 1998) and no, the knowledge graph is not smart either - it simply scraped Wikipedia for most cases - and for that i don't need Google or its algo.


08/15/2012 01:35 pm

I think there's danger in the assumption and promotion that individuals who make up a company are smarter than most of the individuals in the world. What? Really?

Webstats Art

08/15/2012 01:55 pm

Google is a scraper but they are lucky because they got in there early. Now they want to be a content farm.

Steve Morgan

08/15/2012 01:58 pm

Great post, Barry. For me, Eric Ward summed it up perfectly when he said: “[D]o you really want to go up against a team of Google Ph.D’s who are way smarter than us, and do you honestly believe we can outfox them? Forever?” It's true in my opinion. Google's engineers are smart - and some SEOs don't give them nearly enough credit.

Adam Collings

08/15/2012 03:26 pm

Do a google search for 'hcg drops' and look at any of the top 3 sites back-links. As long as these idiots are being rewarded for their tactics people will be frustrated. "Oh but they will eventually be penalized..." yea well in the mean time they are making $2k to $4k per day.

Jim Christian

08/15/2012 03:33 pm

I don't think that any of us need to "outsmart" Google. The game here is SERP's. If Google can't improve their results then they will lose market share. Once that happens I think you'll see an even playing field for Bing. All it takes is one bad burn from Google and the game will change. Imagine them supporting their infrastructure with 30% less traffic.


08/15/2012 04:09 pm

Ted is saying that you can't outsmart Google as it is made up of lots of very smart individuals and so therefore is very smart. Having worked with many large corporations I can say they are usually slow to react, unable to change and full of internal conflicts. These companies were all full of very smart people. Just like Google. Didn't make them especially smart though. He confirms this himself with his final point about being unable to second guess a corporations intentions as it has so many contributors: This is as it makes it so complex and disconnected with no single vision. We all know those sites that have blatant paid links and other dubious tactics that sail on through whilst the guys who always play by the rules get blindsided. Doesn't sound like the work of someone who is that smart to me.

Liv Jones

08/15/2012 04:58 pm

Sounds like a bit of the "Great and Powerful Oz!"

Donnie Strompf

08/15/2012 04:59 pm

Google and life is a big experiment. We try different strategies until we find one that works. Every niche has a way to get ranking and Google's algorithm is very broad. When it comes to SEO it's who you are competing against on a SERP, the battle is agains similar companies not Google.


08/15/2012 07:44 pm

The danger is not that they are smarter, is that they are crooked. Clicks on ads have risen by 42% after Penguin and rose 39% after Panda. That loser Tedster sounds like a Google employee. This has nothing to do with "SEO" but with Google manipulating SERPS to increase ad clicks. F Tedster, he's irrelevant and stuck in the 1990's SEO.

Jaan Kanellis

08/15/2012 09:08 pm

OK so Google is there to serve the "searchers" for the sake of the actual webmasters that they are indexing?? Seems like the should be helping the webmasters more than the searchers as WE are the core element of their search product. Yet algo change after algo change destroys another company ability to survive and make revenue. Many times not on purpose, but it happens just the same. Google does force into a world where we have to react to their changes. I have seen many sites do all white hat and serve the purpose of the user only to get caught up in one of the 80 new changes they "try" and implement each month. I currently work for a company that has felt the wrath of Google changes for absolutely no reason. Asked for help in Google forums, sent in dozens of re-inclusion request for multiple sites and tried to submit feedback in Penguin forms. Nothing back from Google. It is very frustrating and at the same time disappointing to see posts like these preaching the same old things we have heard from years from Google. Webmasters are forced into changing what is done on their sites to HELP Google do their jobs better. Things like Schema, Canonical tags, Rel = whatever, etc. Why? What is in it for us? But we keep trying to help them in the hopes of better results in the SERP's. Big brands seem to be the winners here and continue to out perform smaller companies. In the past it was more of a equal playing field where the small mom and pop shops could compete with Amazon for certain niche keyword groups. Not any more. Rant over.

Bhupendra Shekhawat

08/16/2012 09:11 am

it's google time that's why google smart


08/16/2012 10:39 am

If google is so smart, shouldn't let spamers do they dirty work at the first place. Right now Panda, Penguin is the way to do things right but wait...I think it's quite impossible.

Aniruddha Badola

08/16/2012 11:36 am

Not for a moment do I believe that Google's algorithm is not super complex and beyond our understanding. But like anything made by humans, it surely must be having some loopholes. In fact every algo update which addresses a known problem like scraped content, paid links and so many others only confirms that with all its 10000s of Phds, scientists, social scientists and psychologists, Google can't really predict how people will exploit its vulnerabilities. Yes, it wakes up but only too late. Yes, things get done but there is a lot of collateral damage. And in the end Yes, search results are still full of spam by big companies. As for SEOs to focus on users, I think it's a valid point.


08/16/2012 12:22 pm

Unnecesary and boring post


08/16/2012 01:06 pm

i think it signal what google time is near end. them more company speak good about them - it becomes a important signal what something very wrong with that company. All their discussions about 'good user experience' is nothing when you see lot of 404 errors in their own website (google help center, google local, etc). Really it time for small webmasters to stop helping to google, we spending LOT of money for our content but google is still think we a spammers because submitting articles sometimes. But if not do it, not will any traffic - so it really their complete stupidity (not promote, we penalize you for everything. but create excellent content which never will ranks without links).


08/16/2012 01:08 pm

Google now is biggest MFA website, it right now looks like full page ads - as sites from 1999

Ralph Slate

08/16/2012 01:18 pm

But how do users know they are getting bad results? People are trained to use Google, and if they can't find what they want, they assume it doesn't exist.

Josef Holm

08/16/2012 03:15 pm

I agree with Ted and Barry, not necessarily that an algo is smarter than people but Google has the brainpower and the money to get it their way, no matter if we SEOs like it or not. That's a fact that every SEO needs to simply live with...

Mac Cohen

08/16/2012 03:38 pm

Who needs to be smart? When we walk into a social event we know how to behave in an elegant way. Same for the web. I believe that if we keep on acting elegant and cool, in a socially upstanding way, Google will eventually come around. Their stated intent is to mirror human intuition, to identify and use the factors we use to rate one another. So I and my ilk will continue doing my thing; anyhow we are in it for the long run. In the long run the people who have something to offer will be recognized.


08/16/2012 04:02 pm

Actually you're behind the curve on this as is Tedster - if you follow Michael Martinez he talks all the time about this and that if you view this as an "SEO" exercise you are dooming yourself to eventual failure. STOP thinking SEO - START thinking marketing!


08/16/2012 08:31 pm

when i using google search - I really feel what google smarter then me. I searching about php error message, but it show me wikipedia article what is php. Really smart system, AI++++


08/16/2012 08:34 pm

algorithm is anchor text %, new links velocity, links from unique content. also right now authority kills relevancy. that is all google smartness. Try to post 1 unique article per hour to your site for 1 days and you will see what them like.


08/17/2012 11:12 am

Unnecessary and boring comment

The God of SEO™

08/20/2012 04:38 pm

They'll know because of SEOs.


08/21/2012 03:01 am

Please! Googles not smarter than anyone. Its just their house and they call the shots, simple as that. That's not smart, that's just in control until some new search engine takes them over.


08/21/2012 03:05 am

Google is just like any other business that corners the market. It's human nature to want more, and more, and more, and more, and more, not caring about who you hurt. I guarantee you if any of you guys owned Google you would be blinded by the love of money and power as well. HUMAN NATURE. You can't go against it. ITS NATURE! get in where you fit in.

blog comments powered by Disqus