Game Playing in SEO and PPC

The door buzzer went and rather than a delivery from the postman or a candidate for one of our Microsoft training courses in came a brace of recruitment consultants armed with brochures and some chocolates canvassing door to door for new clients. The last dew months have seen similar visits and gifts from a range of other vendors. On reflection I have felt myself fortunate that I have not yet had to do the same. Personally I don’t like unsolicited calls and each morning has become a ritual of deleting spam from my inbox but someone turning up at my desk is in a league of it’s own.

For the last five years Mouse training have being reliant on a steady stream of referrals from our web site fed in part from Ad Word campaigns from Google, Yahoo and latterly MSN and to a lesser extent natural searches.

However, in part gradually as people stop answering their phones and retreating behind spam filters this market place has become more crowded and unlike some queues where everyone gets some water eventually in this queue only those with the best search engine optimisers or the deepest pockets will get fed.

Perhaps we need a new sun to worship. Ideally I will still bring some offerings to the old temple but I am going to suggest in the paragraphs below another path to follow.

Can we all continue to run with the herd?

Researchers have studied contrarian behaviour called the Minority Game

The demo zeus is based on a now classic problem posed by the economist W. Brian Arthur set in a popular bar. Everyone liked going to the bar but it was not a fun place to be when crowded. In these circumstances what is the best strategy to maximise a fun evening out. Should you avoid week ends? Go early Go Late? Surely everyone else will be doing the same. A similar idea would be the idea of living off peak? Going to the supermarket on Monday at 10:00 PM but then there is no fresh bread.

Naturally their will be some people who doggedly stuck to the same strategy out of natural conservatism and go to the bar on Friday night and the supermarket on Saturday morning and others who will switch strategy more than once to improve their happiness quotient.

When you are in a queue of traffic the driver three in front suddenly turns left and is immediately followed by the next two cars should you follow? Does the driver in front have a better route or out of frustration has decided to return home followed by two new friends

If we assume for the moment that there is no right or wrong answer to the right strategy but just bear in mind that in the right circumstances key players will pick up on the behaviour of some contrarians and follow a minority and the herd of wildebeest will turn in a new direction.

Let’s take the idea of game theory into the world of Google Ad words and natural search and reflecting that I like everyone else must be in the top ten when some one searches for my organizations goods and services using key words I have previously researched. (For a more technical explanation of the full story behind Google AdWords and natural search algorithims vist our web site.)

If everyone is thinking the same

Cold calling becomimg for difficult

Email shorts being beaten back as spam

Then marketing spend and the cost to organizations of search engine optimization expertise for the free natural listings and the cost of advertising in the paid advertisements (to the right on the same search results) can only go up and there can only be a limited number of winners visible on page 1 of Google and many losers in the servants quarters.

Since Google is the market leader par excellence in both areas of natural and paid search this is effectively the same as everyone worshiping the same Sun God.

With the current down turn in the economy in the UK and USA everyone is also following the same herd instinct and spending more on their web sites and more to improve or maintain the status quo with the position of their ad campaigns. The same herd instinct is plainly evident in the stock market

Any search on the internet produces millions of pages of information with even more cunning ways to please the great God Google with the gift of a perfectly optimised web site that matches its current algorithm. Alternatively there are those offering advice on how to make your Copper shine like Gold. There is even a debate at the moment about how to hide additional hyperlinks on full stops in web pages to please the search engines but unlikely to be clinked on by users. However, just as there are only so many take off and landing slots at Heathrow as more companies abandon traditional sales methods to attract sales leads in favour of web searches the price must go up.

What minority games are being played in the great search engine game? What can I do what can you do to be different.

Well I don’t want to pick up the phone and ring all over London asking if anyone would like to attend next month’s Excel Advanced course on the 28th. I don’t want to send out yet another email shot to 10000 people and fill up any else’s inbox with any more spam mail than I have myself. I certainly don’t want to attend any more exhibitions or knock on any doors armed with a box of chocolates.

Everyone wants to be the first Wildebeest to change direction and be right. No one wants to eaten by the market Lion who will devour any organization to early to late to market or completely wrong in their new path.

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