4 Things Every Company Should Know About Google
Every business owner knows that being at the top of a Google search is worth real money, but most businesses are in the dark about how Google chooses whom to place in those coveted top positions.
The precise formula of how search engines work is a trade secret that is ever-changing and probably near impossible for an outsider to really know. But there are certain universally agreed upon truisms that Google and Bing have shared about what businesses should do to rank well on their search engines.
This blog article is about 4 of those universally accepted truisms: the 4 things every business should know about Google.
#1 Google Wants to Make Searchers Happy
This is the #1 truth for anyone who is trying to do real and lasting search engine optimization. Google maintains its multi-billion dollar business authority for one reason and one reason only: when people come to Google to look for something, they are happy with what Google gives them.
KEY TAKE AWAY: When you try to get to the top of a Google search, ask yourself “what would my target audience be happiest finding?”
Concentrate on adding value to the people that you’d like to be found by, and you are already way ahead of the game.
This also means that anyone who offers you “better rankings on Google” will have to answer the following question, “Why will hiring you make people be happier to see my website than my competitors website?”
A senior search engineer at Google explains that there are three factors that a website is a good match for any given search query:
The next three truisms are about what locality, relevance, and authority mean and what your website can to do to get them. Most of the actions described in this article are free, and none should cost more than $50 / year. There is always more that you can do, but these are probably things every business owner can and should do or have done for their website.
#2 How to be Local
People often want to find the website of a service provider that is close to them. That is why Google will often give better ranks to websites of service providers who have a location close to the searcher.
How does Google know where a business actually is? If you said the address on their website, you’re partially correct. However, there are also myriad sources which Google consults to keep up with when a business moves, has more than one location, has gone out business, etc. etc . etc.
If you want to be sure that Google knows where you actually are I suggest the following:
1) Make sure that your business address is on your website and uses a markup that complies with schema.org. You may not know what “schema markup” means, but your web developer should. If not, tell them to check out schema.org, or perhaps find another web developer.
2) Buy directory listing services from a company like moz.com/local or whitespark.ca. These companies specialize in helping businesses make sure that their addresses are correctly listed across multiple data aggregators.
#3 How to be Relevant
Here is the single most important question Google has to answer about any given website for any given query: “Is this website relevant to what this person is looking for?”
It obviously follows that you want your website to express that it is relevant to what your potential clients are looking for. Expressing what is relevant to your target market requires two things:
1) You have to know what your clients are looking for
2) Know where and how to put these terms into your website
Here’s how to learn what your clients are looking for and how they ask for it:
When I do research for my search engine optimization clients I begin by asking them to make two lists:
1) What services they offer
2) What “itches” do clients want scratched when they start looking for that service
For example, I have an attorney client who told me that one of his clients found him because he had received a “demand letter”. In this case, the service might have been something like “litigation” “lawyer” “legal counsel” but the itch was “received a demand letter”.
Differentiating between “itches” and services is important. Here’s why: if you want to be found by people searching for “where’s the best pizza in Savannah, GA?”, your target search term should be “Where’s the best pizza in Savannah, GA”, and not “we’ve got the best pizza in Savannah, GA”, or “we have pizza with extra cheese”, etc. The reason: the more closely your website matches the topic that searcher has typed into Google, the more likely it is that Google will think that your website will make that searcher happy.
THREE WORD SUMMARY: Be the Search!
Don’t just be what they are looking for. Be the way that they are looking for it.
How to research keyword terms
There are tons of different tools to do research once you have a list of services and “itches”, but that is really a bit outside the scope of this article. For most businesses, it will be enough to use Google’s free “Keyword Planner” in Google Adwords. To find that tool, sign up for an account (it’s free), then click on the “Tools” tab a the top of the page and choose the “Keyword Planner”.
From that point, Google offers a relatively user-friendly way to do some basic keyword research. This should give you some idea of the terms that people search for when looking for your services.
Now that you know what terms you want to be targeting, it’s time to use those words appropriately in your website.
If you don’t know HTML, this is probably going to be pretty challenging, although tools like WordPress and the SEO plugin for WordPress by Yoast can make it a lot easier.
In a nutshell you want to make sure that the pages of your website are crafted to be what the searcher is looking for. If you want to be the search for “who has the best pizza in Savannah, GA” make sure to have a web page called “who has the best pizza in Savannah, GA” (that’s called the title tag). Include the words “demand letter” in the headings of the page (h tags), in the text of the page (body), and even make a point to have images that are appropriate to a demand letter and use “alt-tags” to indicate that these are pictures of a “the best pizza in Savannah, GA”.
There is a lot more to where and how to place these terms, but suffice it to say, make sure that when you are planning your website, you keep your client clearly in mind. Most companies tend to approach their websites as an effort to tell the world their story and the services they offer. In my opinion, that has a weak chance of succeeding in search engine optimization. If you want to make Google’s searchers happy, think first about what your clients are looking for, and then craft your company’s story and services fit into fulfilling what will be most satisfying to that customer.
#4 How to be Authoritative on Line
Authority is definitely the hardest thing for a website to achieve. The search engines seem to put quite a lot into how to establish what website is most authoritative on any given subject. However, at the time of this writing, all indications are that something called “backlinks” are the single most important indicator of a website’s authority. Here’s a brief explanation of “backlinks”.
Any link on a website which would lead a visitor to your website is called a “backlink”. It is a link which takes a visitor “back to your website”. Google’s founder Larry Page was the first person to really value “backlinks” as an indicator of a website’s authority. Here is an idea to illustrate the point:
Let’s imagine a celebrity we will call “Madame X”. Madame X has her own website. She is the kind of celebrity everyone talks about, everyone thinks about, and everyone blogs about. It is very likely that lots and lots of people will be writing about her and publishing articles about her online. When they write about her online, they will probably include links on their web pages to Madame X’s website. This will mean that Madame X will have many, many backlinks to her website.
Now let’s think about one of Madame X’s fans. Madame X’s fan may create a website and even call it “MadameX.com”, but it is very unlikely that as many people will be writing about the fan’s website than they will be about Madame X’s website. This means that the fan website will wind up having a lot less “backlinks” than Madame X’s actual website.
When someone does a Google search for “Madame X” Google will need to choose which site should be first on the list: the fan site or the authentic Madame X site. How does Google know which site should come up first? Simple: follow the backlinks. The site with the most links is probably the most authoritative site, and is probably what someone is looking for when they do a search for “Madame X”, even if Madame X’s site is something generic like “mywebsiteX.com”.
Building authority is tough, since you really can’t fake it. Not that it keeps bajillions of people from trying. But Google can be pretty tough on these “link farms”. If Google thinks that a site has gotten its authority “un-authentically”, they will penalize the site. Google has a lot at stake to give its searchers what they are looking for. If your site is not going to be what the searcher wants to see, it could damage Google’s reputation, and they are likely to be unhappy about that.
The best way to build authority is to find businesses in your sphere of influence that would be willing to endorse your business by linking to it on their website. You might be a preferred provider for another business.
Another good way of building backlinks is by offering to write guest blog articles. It’s important to note that this really only helps if the articles you are writing actually have value to people who read them. It’s not necessarily a good idea to have an article on someone else’s website that is really little more than an advertisement for your website, or just filler text and a link to your site. For all questions refer back to point #1: will the searcher be happy to find this.
So there are 4 points that every business owner should know about Google.
#1 Google’s chief concern is to make their searchers happy
#2 Make sure your physical location is well established online
#3 Be the search. Be as relevant as possible to what your target audience is searching for.
#4 Try to gain authority from other legitimate sites in the form of links.
Keep these four things in mind when developing your site and writing for your own and other people’s blogs, and you are bound to come out way ahead of the competition. Good luck!
Adam Singer is the founder of AJ Singer Studios, an inbound marketing agency based in Savannah, GA. You can find Adam’s blog at ajsingerstudios.com and follow him on twitter at @aj613. AJ Singer Studios helps clients get found, get business, and get results online.
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