Will you often hear references to Sun Tzu when discussing SEO for small to medium-sized businesses? Probably not, but after reading How Search Engines work – Really! from Jenny Halasz, this particular passage most certainly applies.
In Chapter 3 of Art of War, it is said that if you know your enemy and you know yourself, you won’t find yourself mired in a hundred battles. If you don’t know your enemy but do know yourself, you will win some and lose some. However, if you don’t know your enemy or yourself, you run the risk of losing every single battle.
So what in the world does that have to do with SEO? Simple. Google, Bing and Yahoo are not your friends. They are companies, large companies, focused on profit. They make a good deal of their of revenue from paid search campaigns. They don’t make money on SEO. In fact, you could say they lose money on SEO because, if we’re doing or job, people click on Natural Search results instead of the Pay Per Click ads.
Sure, it’s friendly the vast majority of the time, but make no mistake, Google and the others merely tolerates SEO. They do not condone it and outright penalize it when overused. Heck, who am I kidding? They penalize SEO for their own gain. If you need proof you need only look at natural keyword search results over the last two years. The inlfux of “keyword unavailable” should erase any doubts you may have about the intentions of your search engines.