Do you obtain only the finest ingredients?
Do you provide an outstanding service people love?
Is there a story behind the success of your business?
How can you Win at SEO in new ways?
SEO means search engine optimization. This is what people have done to enable websites to rise to the top of the pages in Google and be the most visible answers to your searches. It began with making the web page code easier for the Google robots to read and providing clear keywords to match search queries. You hired professionals to help you or advise you with that.
High quality content, easy-to-use web navigation and excellent web user experiences were and still are the way to succeed in Google's search ranking. There are over 200 rank algorithm factors used, but things really boil down to the basics. If you do them well, then you have the best chance of being found on search pages. You should have a search marketing strategy based upon what you do, whom you serve and how well you serve them. This should be the foundation. It always was.
Now, add to that the natural efforts of your happy customers to share their love for you, to tell your story, and to recommend you to their friends. This should be a natural communication system that validates those who serve people well. These are the businesses you want to find online.
How did we go off in the wrong direction? What ruined search? How did this happen?
People were impatient and didn't want to wait for the search engine to find them and promote them naturally. People figured out how to game the system because they wanted to make money faster. They invented ways to get you on first page. You bought it. The system became corrupted. That's the very simple answer for a long and complex history that made a lot of people a lot of money.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something people used to outsource to web technicians. Techniques were used to manipulate high volumes of links to your website in order to fool Google into thinking it was loved and promoted by many. Keywords, the ultimate word matching game with the search engine, were positioned on your pages. This part was necessary. However they were also used on thousands of short web posts, positioned all over the web on directory sites composed primarily of millions of links. Business owners paid money to have high volumes of these links point back to their websites. The links were intended to match up to the keyword on that search page. They gave the appearance that many people online loved your website or your products. It was fraud because it was "fake." It fooled the search engine. It fooled you.
It worked for a long time. The highest items on each search page were websites with the most matching keywords and online backlinks. Money owned the game. You were not supplied with websites that were the highest in quality, providing the answers you sought. You were provided sites that had gamed the system to get the most links to get on top. The system was flawed, and fraud reigned.
What's new? Google stopped it. They rebuilt the search engine over 11 years and, in 2013, they switched to the new one. These old games just don't work in the new one. Google also provided changes in its "algorithms" so that the old tricks would be caught and the websites that did them were ranked lower or disappeared.
Value for the end user is the ultimate goal. Web information that provides excellent content, easy navigation and a delightful user experience will be seen and promoted. This is what your business needs to do online:
Provide high quality content and good information.
Create websites that people love to use, navigate, and find the content they seek.
Enable people to talk about your great products or services online.
Provide ways for people to share your content and recommend it.
Engage your customers online to keep returning for more.
Engage your prospective customers to hear about and become excited about your products.
Consistently provide fresh content in an evolving online conversation about what you do.
If you build this, they will not only come, they will try, they will talk, and they will come back.
If every business is now trying this and social media is a rushing stream overflowing with content just like yours, how do you tread water? If businesses and websites abound on your exact topic or product line, how will you be seen? How do you keep up? After all, you are a small business owner, and you do what you do. You did not intend to spend all your time marketing. That was not your profession. You can't "buy links" anymore. What do you do?
In his book, Google Semantic Search, David Amerland invented a story about a bread company that figured out how to market their products online in extremely creative and successful ways. You need to read this. What you need to do for your company will be very clear.
A company, Cronuts has in fact done something similar to this and its products are in high demand. Read David Amerland's story, "How Cronuts Beat the Web".
Now, the question is, how do you, a small business owner, do all this? Are you ready to become a writer, a videographer, or a storyteller? Most small business owners are not. It may feel impossible. But it is not. Let's get started, one passionate step at a time.
1. Who are the customers who are passionate about you, your products or services?
Are they male, female, old, young? Figure out who purchases your products or services. Where do they make their purchases? When do they purchase? How do they find out about you? You need to know this in order to figure out how to communicate better with them.
2. Who are not your customers yet?
Who would you like to be your customers? What are they passionate about? Where will you find them? Think about all this in order to figure out how to reach out to your new passionate customers.
3. What do you do that your customers really like enough to rave about?
Do you just have a good product that serves people well? Do you provide answers to questions they can't solve in other places? Do you save the environment? What is it that you do right?
4. Can you show or tell your business story differently than you do now?
You can tell a story about the origins of your business by showing it in your brand logo, by writing it on your website, by making a short video of the story, or all of the above. Working with someone on Google+ to make a Hangout on Air that can play like a video on your website is a good, and economical place to start. You need to figure out how to tell that story.
5. What are you passionate about, driving you to do high quality work every day?
You can tell about your passions, your motivations, or your high quality ingredients in a story. If you are passionate, whether it is purpose or work ethic or organic ingredients or saving the planet, you can show this in pictures or video or blog articles. This is often what makes you different.
6. How do you listen to your customers?
You may be doing something they feel is wonderful, but if you have no way to hear it or let them share it, then no one will know. Being a "best kept secret" is no way to market a business. But, first, you need to let people tell you what they love about you. Make a plan.
Can they do it on social media? Is there someone in your business that could read their stories and share them with you, and respond to thank people? This would be a beginning.
7. Do you enjoy conversing with your customers as they purchase from you or as you serve them?
You could bring this conversation online. A microphone set up on your store counter is not the best way. But if you reach out to online locations your people visit and invite them to talk there, you may have more success. Is there a place you can blog? Can you pose questions online to let them vote on new products or services?
8. Do you have any "raving fans"? How could they help you?
You probably are a raving fan of some product or service. You tell about this to your friends. Maybe there are fans of your business that you could talk with to learn ways to share this excitement with others. You don't pay your fans of course, but they could offer you some creative ideas. After all, they really want you to succeed. Just ask them.
9. Who in your company has the passion and energy to represent you online?
Maybe you don't like to do social media, but someone does. You can set up a plan for them to read posts or comments for you, check with you daily by phone, get answers from you and post them back online. It is possible to do this with someone you trust. If you don't take a chance and try it you will never know. You may be the one with the passion for your business, but someone with a passion for how you do what you do can tell about it too.
10. What do you define as success?
Goals can really help you plan with wisdom. Is a sale your goal? Or is a satisfied customer your goal? Plan a goal and then plan a way to tally how many times you reach it each month. It could be a bell your customers ring in the shop when they love their purchase. It could be another person they recommend you contact in a thank you email to them. It could be support to encourage them to post a review online. Define a goal and meet it. Then define the next one. Step by step you will reach them.
You can hire someone to write articles. You can't hire someone to be you online. But you can talk with those who value your business to learn what they love. Get some help to come up with some new creative ideas and give them a try.
You do need to do this online. In addition to providing a quality way for people to see your products or services online, you need to help them develop a passion for your products or services online. What happens in your store does not stay in your store. People talk. Make sure the conversation is positive, the people are excited, and they know and promote your passions when they talk. Don't think it will happen without you. Keep trying until you find a way. There is one.
You can hire a creative thinker to help you. I am available for consulting by the hour to explore creative options for your business along with SEO strategic options.
This article, Passion & Customer Relationships Win at SEO, is based on "Chapter 3."
Read my article, What on Earth is a Knowledge Graph, based on "Chapter 2."
Read my article, You are an ENTITY not a Keyword, based on "Chapter 1."