Improving your website’s search engine rankings can feel like an impossible maths problem. But what if it was more like choosing a birthday present for a friend? A challenge, but also fun.
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Something that starts with the other person – what do they like? What will capture their curiosity and interest?
When, after some thinking, you hit on the right idea, it’s win–win – your friend loves their present. And you look good for choosing something just right.
Doing well in Google requires the same sort of approach.
How does it work? It couldn’t be simpler. When people are pleased with what you’ve made, links to your site will follow. Google want to know who to point to, and they find out by looking at how we point to each other. They assess how we recognise each other and amplify it through their search results.
Improve Your Brand
When done well, search engine optimisation (SEO) works as much to improve your brand as it does to increase your Google ranking.
By thinking hard about who would be interested in your site, and acting on the insights, you actually improve the site itself.
Here’s another way of putting it. You need to think of good ideas, express them well, and then get them the right recognition.
A good idea…
If you want people to point others to your website, give them a reason to want to link. Maybe it’s an event bringing people together who wouldn’t normally be together. Or a competition. That’s the ‘good idea.’ It gets people engaging with your business – and therefore engaging with your website.
A great idea needs to be delivered well. This requires creativity, good execution, and timely action. It also involves thinking hard about relevance.
…with the right recognition.
On its own, compelling content is not enough. It needs to be seen by the right people, and then it needs to get linked to. The best approaches are similar to classic word–of–mouth marketing: someone sees something they like online and points others to it, recommending they take a look. Heads turn, conversations start – and your site gets recognition.
How do you accomplish this? By asking the right people to point to you.
This needs to be thoughtful and purposeful.
Blanket bombing your content to everyone under the sun is likely to be a waste of time. It’s far better to identify the most influential people in your sector – those who have significant traction online – and start a conversation with them about your well–expressed idea.
What might that look like?
Here are two good examples.
The Fortune Wild is a short film from the surf wear brand, Sitka. The British Columbia based company is competing in a sector dominated by big spending global brands such as Quiksilver, Billabong, Hurley and O’Neill.
Without a big budget, Sitka co–founder Rene Gauthier needed to focus the company’s marketing efforts. Instead of creating activity across all digital channels to try to compete with the big boys, Gauthier concentrated on doing one or two things very well. So the company created video content that people would want to share with others and talk about.
That ambition has led to a series of compelling films, each of which has an enduring appeal. Their first short film Tipping Barrels has been played over 270,000 times and the trailer for their second film The Fortune Wild has been watch over 49,000 times.
This content marketing has helped grow the little–known company’s Facebook fan base and Twitter following, promoting brand awareness and sales.
From a very different sector, consider Quality Garden Tools, based in Surrey.
Owner Dox Elsom wanted to do well on Google. As a keen writer, he had a natural opportunity to start writing a blog, and to get people to link to it. And so ‘The Fat Gardener’ blog was born.
Through the blog Quality Garden Tools was able to gain and hold a number one position for the search phrase ‘garden tools’ for several years, above both Amazon and B&Q.
Assessing SEO for your business
There are some quick ways to gauge the success or otherwise of your brand’s online presence.
First, review the top–ten search phrases visitors use to find your site. If they are all variations of your company name, then your website is just acting as a business card – being checked by people who already know about you.
On the other hand, if your site is actively selling and communicating for you, then your top–ten list will be full of search phrases made by people new to your company and new to your site.
Second, review your top–ten referrers – look at your traffic sources and see who is sending visitors directly to you. If this list is dominated by Yell and directory sites, or by other websites you own, then it is failing to perform.
Interesting sites will gain recognition on the web from other interesting sites.
What else can be done?
Every organisation in every sector can make its website work harder to reach new audiences or make its business grow. For our clients, contacts and friends, we conduct free website and Google Analytics reviews, identifying what is working well and what could be improved.
If this is of interest, please drop me a line.