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Opinion: Congress needs to do their homework on search engines

I am watching C-SPAN right now, listening to Google CEO Sundar Pichai respond to questions to various U.S. Representatives. I sincerely believe Pichai is doing a very good job answering the questions posed to him.

What is astonishing me as an SEO professional for almost 25 years (I was doing this work before Google came into the mainstream) are the representatives’ comments. In particular, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Steve Chabot (R-OH), in my opinion, have a considerable LACK of quality research about Google or any web search engine.

No web document deserves to rank. I have stated that as an expert witness in multiple legal cases – rankings are earned. When I hear any conservative, moderate, independent or liberal complain about the lack of representation in Google search results, my response is, “Look in the mirror, first.” What did the website owners do to earn a spot in a Google News, Google Image, etc. search result?

Search engine optimization, as an industry, existed before Google came into the mainstream. I was there almost 20 years ago when Sergei Brin spoke at his first Search Engine Strategies conference. Have any of these complainants from today’s hearing worked with a reputable SEO firm or SEO consultant? I haven’t heard any of the representatives talk about that.

Most SEO professionals know that Google tailors listings for every searcher. I can perform a search query in Illinois, for example, and my colleagues living in New York, Kentucky, California, Pennsylvania (or any other state) are likely to get different results. Again, information on how this works is readily available, particularly on Search Engine Land (like here and here) and on Google. Did these two representatives work with an SEO firm or consultant that would have informed them of this fact and showed them the citations? They could have.

Pichai also mentioned the Quality Rater Guidelines. Here is a small screenshot of how Google…

 

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