Everyone wants to get to the top of Google and get free traffic. In 2001 when I started my first website, this was really easy to do. Over time however, search engines have grown more complex, splitting marketers into two schools of thought: give Google what they want, or hack Google to get what you want.

The first school of thought – giving Google what they want – revolves around content.

The idea here is that Google wants to show its users the most relevant content when they search. Content can be an article, a Wikipedia page, a product listing, a review or a tutorial. When Google’s users find the best content, they keep coming back and searching for more.

The second school of thought – hacking Google to get what you want – revolves around the idea that Google is a machine, and all machines work in a predictable way.

If you can figure out the algorithm – or parts of it – then you ca re-engineer that to get the top spot in Google without having to invest in creating solid content.

Which do you believe it?

Hacking Google’s Algorithm

Over the years, I have done both methods. I’ve spent three years figuring out link building, buying links, creating blog farms, satellite / feeder sites, and much more. The idea always seems easy, but as I found out, implementing a strategy like this takes just as much time and money as actually creating good content.

The second method, hacking Google’s algo, will very often lead you down a long and winding road with multiple shortcuts, track backs, dead ends and firefighting. If you succeed, your rewards will be to stay at the top of Google – until they fix it.

Years ago, when someone found an exploit, they told the world and everyone did it. Google caught on, and understood that humans will keep looking for shortcuts. So Google evolved to become more complex than ever.

Today, no single person – not even a search engineer at Google – truly understands how the algorithm works, let alone be able to predict it.

Creating Good Content

All the while, Google has tried to stay true to its goal of giving its users the best search results. While they have evolved and become more complex, they simply cannot survive if no one is making good content for their users.

Over the years, the people who focused on making good content – text, applications, audio and video – have always seen long-term success. A few pages may drop out of top Google rankings, but other pages always take their place and even things out.

Google needs to show its users good content. Everything else Google does, including Android, depends on the income from search (AdWords).

If you focus on creating content, what do you have to show for it after 3-4 years?

Great writing skills, audio production know-how, fluent speaking in front of a camera, and much more.

But if all you’ve ever tried to do was to hack Google on a time-sensitive loophole, you always get back to square one. Everything you know about the previous loophole is outdated and just doesn’t matter anymore.

You get nothing – no new skills, no connections, no branding, no value. Whatever money you may have earned from the last loophole you exploited, would more than certainly vanished when you tried to exploit the latest loophole.

It’s like playing against the house – and if you play long enough, the house always wins!

So, which one do you really choose?