If you just doing it for users I think you'll be in good shape. -- Matt Cutts

In teaching Influency (or creating your business’ Influency for you), I tell you a lot of things about a lot of stuff (see ‘everything‘). One topic that comes up all the time is Optimization. Google’s Matt Cutts, himself a frequent topic of discussion here, said something the other day that stopped me in my tracks:

If you’re just doing it for users I think you’ll be in good shape.

Uh-Oh.

You may think I’m picking on Matt from what’s about to come, but this particular Yablon-speaks-negatively rant isn’t about Matt Cutts and his attempts-to-either-inform-or-mislead-us-all about the way Google sees the world. My issue here—my one and only issue here—is that Google doesn’t know how its own search engine works any more.  For all practical purposes, The Google Search Algorithm has achieved singlularity.

The problem, Minority Report-esque world evolution notwithstanding, is the question of what that means to Influency*.

As I’ve mentioned here a couple of times, we no longer sell Search Engine Optimization as a standalone service. SEO matters, and by the very nature of its name will continue to be important as long as computer software is what finds us the things we seek. And while Google and other search engine providers have real people to intervene manually from time to time, search optimization is what determines who finds you on The Internet. But there’s way more to Optimization Influency than staying ahead of search algorithms.

In the video you see here, Matt Cutts makes this clear. Right at the end, in uttering the words I quoted above, the man who controls what Google says is acceptable in SEO uses the words ‘I think’.

I THINK ??

Several years ago, we ran an experiment to see just how smart Google was when it came to ferreting out hidden text on a web page. As I told you then, they’re pretty smart; we hid information in a way that Google should not have been able to discover, but discover it they did. Or did they? With the benefit of hindsight and the added little goosing of Matt Cutts resorting to the words ‘I think’ in talking about what’s OK when it comes to staying on the right side of Google’s search rules, I’m guessing that it wasn’t the Google Search Algorithm that found our trick, but instead that we were discovered by a third party who’d been adversely effected by it and reported it to Google, triggering a manual review.

And now, I’ll use the same words Matt Cutts relied on in this week’s video: I THINK.

I think Google has no duplicate content penalty. I think a lot of things and we get our clients big Influency results by applying the things I think. I know that something as simple as a comment on a blog post matters to Influency.

And I also know that when Matt Cutts uses the words ‘I Think’ to describe what’s OK in creating a web site, it makes me nervous.

I Think.

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