There’s no denying that Google has come to influence way too much in the online world. So much so that webmasters have to constantly keep in touch with what’s Google up to, to ensure that their websites constantly feed on the much needed traffic.
On an average, most websites get about 50-80% of their traffic from search engines (read primarily Google). In such a scenario, it is only natural that Google algorithm updates create quite a stir, having a deep impact on hundreds of thousands of businesses across the world.
The search engine giant is a towering influencer and ducking your face in the sand and ignoring the reality would not do much good. So, how do you Google-proof your online presence and traffic to your website?
The answer is uncannily simple – stop worrying about Google and focus solely on engaging your customers/readers. The trick is to go back to basics of marketing in the real world and adapt them to the online reality. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Market Online as You Would Market Offline
There is no reason why online marketing rules should be fundamentally different from offline practices. The online customers ask the same question as offline customers – they want to know ‘what’s in it for them’. Show them the value in your offerings, dazzle them with exciting stuff and they will ask for more. Similarly, what loyalty programs offline achieve, the same success can be recreated online as well. Be creative, think what would you would offer your customers to repeat offline and replicate the same online – if it is useful advice they cherish, then the analogy online would be a powerful blog which offers valuable information.
Some other tips to help you get started:
- Offer mouth watering promotions or goodies on your site, and popularize them on multiple channels including social media broadcast and advertising.
- Collaborate with others in your industry – do something together and reap benefits of double promotion. Think ‘dual branded’ promotions of the offline world.
- Become members of associations and communities with similar interests, and meaningfully contribute to them. Your mentions on such platforms will not only build credibility, but also attract attention to your offerings.
- Blog about real issues and things that concern your audience. Get them to participate – be it in terms of ideas, content or questions.
These are but just a few ideas – once you start drawing a parallel to what you’d do in the real world, you’ll find hundreds of similar opportunities online too. And the icing on the cake is the fact that you’ll create a solid footprint of your venture all over the Internet while doing so. This will also be the footprint that Google would read and pass on the benefit of through search rankings and organic traffic.
2. Remember Word of Mouth is the Most Powerful Online
Many businesses across the world have catapulted to success because of the good word of mouth they commanded. This phenomenon is faster and more powerful online. With social channels like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and many niche communities and networking platforms, you can now spread the word faster and more efficiently. Presence on these platforms is a must, but the buck does not stop here. Investing effort and creativity into popularizing these and getting your audience to participate on them is equally critical. The good news is that these channels are self-feeding to a large extent – once you get the momentum going, they will thrive and contribute majorly to your success.
Bottom line, get the conversation going! It’s going to be tedious to kick start, but once done, the rewards will be multi-fold. Search engines like Google have made no secret of how they are reading trends off these social channels – in this line of thought, your popularity on these channels will be the indicator of your importance or growing influence on the Internet – something that may translate into search results as well.
3. Build Credibility and Prove Authenticity
One of the key problems that Google faces optimizing the results for better user experience is fighting spam online. Link farms, bad content, keyword stuffing and poor value pages are all a part of this problem. Sites and pages with these intentions are shady and created hoping search engines would rank them well, or such pages will pass on the benefit to other intended sites or pages. Such content or pages online do not have the readers or visitors in mind. Google is going beyond this and looking for signals to merge the real and virtual world, and filtering out such spam.
The leading search engine is going great lengths to establish authenticity of websites and businesses, by looking for signals of their offline presence. For example, local business citations (mentions of local address with entity name on the web) have emerged to be an important factor for establishing authenticity of an online venture. It’s only natural that the search engine would want to protect the interests of its users and hence give preference in search rankings to those businesses whose authenticity and links to the offline world can be better established. Such signals are also trust building for the audience of the website or business.
Other credibility building measures, such as being participants of some offline events (finding their mentions online as well), having a popular and well-read blog or a being a publisher of a popular eBook (etc.) can benefit your Internet marketing strategy immensely. These too will produce natural links from various online properties, which will hold more regard in Google’s eyes.
4. Diversify Your Online Presence
Just like marketing through one channel in the real world often does not suffice, you would need to diversify your online presence too. Get registered on local directories, guest blog on relevant niche blogs, tweet, pin, podcast or market through videos – diversify your presence as much as possible. It’s never a good idea to hold all your eggs in one basket. You never know what may click, become viral or get you the exposure that allows you the leap to the next level.
5. Think How You Can Grab More Eyeballs
Visitors to a trade show are most attracted to the stall that dazzles the most. Same holds true online too. Your website design, content, value proposition, social media presence – everything matters. Just the average won’t do – you will have to dazzle, share your dream and find opportunities of standing out. Humble beginnings on smaller platforms may just be the stepping-stones to bigger exposure opportunities.
Keep looking for chances to be found on the Internet and give them an honest shot. It could be becoming a donor or member of a charity or guest blogging/advertising on an ardently followed blog. There are many ways of getting more eye balls – the most important thing is to be creative and never stop innovating.