Is Your Company Set Up Correctly to Win the Google Game?
If you’re the owner and your response is anything other than “Somewhere on the first page of Google,” you might want to reconsider your business plan.
Like it or not, the internet drives nearly every facet of today’s culture, especially commerce, and Google drives the internet. When somebody wants to know where the nearest pharmacy is, or a place to buy a car or maybe find a real estate attorney, the stats for search engine use say their first move is to Google the possibilities.
The latest numbers from eBizMBA show Google laps the competition when it comes to search engines, getting 900 million unique visitors per month. That’s about 740 million more visitors than Bing and Yahoo!, the second and third-ranked search engines. In fact, it’s about 400 million more visitors a month than Bing, Yahoo and the next 12 search engines . . . combined!
So how are you going to win the “Google Game” and get some of those 900 million visitors to find your name when they are looking for a business with your expertise? The answer is “content marketing” and while there are a lot of definitions for it, the one that matters to you is this: Getting a link to your business or brand name on the first page of Google.
That’s not going to happen by just having a “cool” company website. It’s not enough to hire an intern to write an occasional blog about your business or your latest product for that website. It’s not even enough to have that intern post a video featuring your newest product. And it’s not enough that you were the focus of a recent newspaper or magazine article.
That approach is as yesterday as Kevin Costner. If all you’re doing with your website is displaying a home page with some pictures of your product and services and a now-and-then blog or video that tries to sell the product, Google isn’t going to rank you. It’s going to ignore you and take its 900 million monthly visitors elsewhere.
Over the past two years, Google recreated its algorithms to favor websites that create and distribute relevant content to a specific target audience. Google focuses on user experience: making sure the web pages it serves up answer the query typed into the search box.
Google likes websites that present the content in attractive, engaging ways that make it meaningful to their audience. Google likes websites that communicate consistently with their customers, delivering valuable information that makes them more intelligent on the subject and, ultimately, loyal enough that they will do business. And Google likes websites that load quickly.
When your website reaches a level where it does all that, the way Pandora.com does for music lovers, ESPN.com does for sports fans, or HuffingtonPost.com does for bloggers, then Google will love you and give you a prominent ranking. Regardless if you are a B2B (business to business) or a B2C (business to community) website, the Google Game rules are the same: Serve your potential customer what (s)he wants.
So how do you get a handle on content marketing and let it push you closer to the front page of Google?
Here are five suggestions to help you get started.
- Identify your audience. Who are they, what do they want to know about the business you’re in and how do they want to receive the material you’re going to offer? The answers to first two haven’t changed much. The third – how they want to receive information – has changed dramatically. In the old days, the answer was newspaper, television and radio and you had to hope someone else would generate the message. Today, it’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and you must be prepared to generate your message.
- Become your own publisher, and publish daily. You want fresh articles and blog posts, so find someone to write your story, produce your videos and answer, with the written word, your customers’ questions. Publish them on your website, daily if possible. Make the content relevant and interesting to your audience. Stay away from so-called “evergreen” pages. Avoid sales pitches. People visit your site because they see things they like and come back because the content is fresh and engaging. When it’s done really well, they will tell others. But everyone leaves when the messages are nothing more than sales pitches. Become the authority on your subject. Keep it relevant and entertaining. You will gain the trust of your audience and eventually, turn them into customers.
- Hire a quality writer to blog for you. Blog writing is an essential and critical element of content marketing. Hubspot.com produced some astonishing survey results on the return businesses see from blog posts. According to the survey, 57 percent of companies with a blog, acquired a customer from that blog and 92 percent of companies who blog multiple times a day, have acquired customers from their blogs. Making this even easier to execute is the fact that there’s a lot of talent available. With newspapers and magazines downsizing daily, there are more experienced, quality writers and editors looking for employment now than ever before.
- Know the value of social media. Ask some business owners why they have a Twitter, or Facebook account and a shockingly high number will respond: “I don’t know.” The reason should be to engage your target audience, start a dialogue with them and allow them to help spread the word about your business. Getting people to share links to your stories or videos is a boon for any business. It’s like lighting a single candle in a dark room, then using that candle to light another candle for someone else in the room … and that person lights someone else’s . . . and so on . . . and so on . . . until the dark room becomes full of light. That’s what “going viral” means, instantly spreading the word about you and your business.
- Create a customer feedback section and get your employees involved. The most valuable resource – and the one you pay the most money for – is your employees. When customers ask questions, especially ones that you won’t know answers to, let your employees supply the information. Some employees will love having their own blog post or their own regulat Q&A on your shiny new website. And even if they aren’t writers, the can answer questions (and your writer can translate for the web). It’s vital that customers have a place where they can ask questions, leave comments and give you honest feedback about your company and its products and services. There are a number of easy ways to do that with content marketing, using Twitter or Facebook; an 800 phone line; or just clicking on something simple like a button that says: Ask Questions. The purpose should be to engage them, inform them and make them advocates for your business, who will share links to your website. This link-building technique is vital to success in the Google game.
There are many other facets to a successful content marketing, but it has to start with a long-term commitment from the business owner. It’s a virtual guarantee that every month, some of those 900 million people visiting Google are looking for you and whatever it is your business offers.
Taking the steps necessary to get a link on Google’s first page will put you in the driver’s seat, where you too, can lap the competition.
Bill Fay is a writer for Debt.org, America’s debt help organization.