Leveraging Online Assets Can Put You Ahead of Your Competitors
Getting the best search engine results can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. It boils down to three major components. If you do your homework and put in the time and effort (or pay us to do it for you) and use the right tools your business or brand can place on the first page of search results. We help our clients with these efforts every day.
Like creating a website you may build a facility for your business. But if no one knows where it is or you haven’t given anyone a reason to come, no one will knock on your door. You can’t just build a website, optimize it for search results and wait for customers to starting lining up. Those days are gone.
Webmasters, digital marketers and search engine optimizers (SEO’s) need be on the top of their game and employ an array of strategies and tools to help your business be found and place high enough in search results to get the attention you need to succeed.
Expertise, Authoritativeness And Trustworthiness
Think this is old news? If so, think again. Google says “quality” content needs to demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T). It’s like a tripod. Missing one leg makes it fall on the floor.
This is so important Google’s team of Search Quality Evaluators’ sole job is to rate content that’s published on the web. There are also many algorithms reviewing and determining its placement in search results based on usefulness and consumer intent (such as RankBrain).
Is your website content filled with pages whose sole purpose is placement in the top of search results for targeted keywords? If so you’ve probably found this approach no longer works well. Search engines and their algorithms are evolving and getting more sophisticated so your approach needs to do the same.
You can’t use a tool to help your business unless you know how it works. Understanding what search engines deem quality content is the first and most important place to start when managing your website. A good place to start is Google’s Search Engine Evaluator Guidelines.
Focus On Authority
How do you develop trust with someone? You base it on your own experience and feedback about the person from others. Search engines take a similar approach. Authority is measured by the quality of your website content and how your website is perceived by other authoritative sites.
Use SEO tools like SEMrush, Majestic and Ahrefs to evaluate your authority metrics. You’ll want to evaluate page and domain authority, the backlink profile, social media shares and internal linking. While some of these may not seem relevant they can provide important indicators in how search engines view your site.
Newer sites can struggle to place on the first page of search engine results because they’re not yet trusted. Garnering links from authoritative sites like social networks, directories and other sources can help. Setting up Google Analytics, Google Search Console and submitting the site map will speed up indexing and provide important feedback on pages and posts to help get them to be considered more authoritative and found higher in search engine results.
Relevance Impacts Trust
The continual building of backlinks is an essential component of building trust. It is not a one-and-done process. It’s a circle. If you want to build trust and authority your website needs to,
- Have quality content,
- Link to sites that have quality content, and,
- Have links from sites that have quality content.
Simply having lots of backlinks from other websites won’t help. The quality of those links is more important than the quantity. Being connected with sites that aren’t relevant can harm your search results.
It’s like being judged by the company you keep. If you’re connected to wonderful, positive, professional people, that helps you. If some of your friends are in and out of jail or disappear for long periods without explanation and have bad reputations, that won’t help you.
Every website should have backlinks from broader sites like Facebook and Twitter. Your backlink profile should,
- Have a proportion of relevant sites,
- Contain authoritative links from other sites, and,
- Have content that shows E-A-T.
Time is also an issue. A newer backlink will have less authority than an older one. Stay away from quick-fix solutions when it comes to building backlinks.
Security Is A Must
Don’t skimp on website maintenance. Invest in a security certificate or a staff member to monitor a website. You can’t afford to be penny wise and pound foolish on these crucial components.
If your website has viruses or shows signs of hacking search engines will blacklist it. If your site has security gaps and related issues it will sink in search results. Unsecure websites are vulnerable and put visitors at risk, something search engines want to avoid.
Search engines and some anti-virus software also alert site visitors when they visit a website that isn’t secure.
- A website visitor may need to click on a link to visit the website, depending on your security software and search engine.
- You don’t want these troubling messages and extra steps to discourage people from visiting your website.
- The average visitor won’t want to take the time, make the effort and run the risk. He or she will go to a competitor’s website instead.
Don’t Skip the Basics
Get the technicalities right for the site visitor. From navigation to design, site architecture and search, each of these components impact the user’s journey. If you ignore one or more your bounce rates will increase and users will go elsewhere.
Bounce rates are an indicator of trust or lack of it. Google says a website’s bounce rate doesn’t impact ranking but it can. If enough website visitors immediately click back to search the content probably isn’t relevant. If this happens enough times search engines will perceive the page or post as irrelevant and it will drop in search engine results.
It’s important to use Google Analytics, Google Search Console and all the tools available to determine why a consumer visits a website and how they interact with it. Improving content, fixing broken links, images and fine-tuning optimization is a continual process. These tools enable SEO’s to do this.
Mobilization and Site Speed are Critical
Mobilegeddon was upon us in 2015. Google changed its search algorithm so mobile friendly websites are ranked higher in search engine results. This only makes sense because over time user expectations, needs and use of mobile devices has grown. More than 56% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, according to SimilarWeb.
A business’ website cannot afford to ignore these users, especially if your customers are a younger demographic or live in the third world. Worldwide since 2013 a billion more people use the internet and twice as many people are using smartphones. Google recently switched to the mobile index as the primary index for most websites. It’s what algorithms use to serve the majority of searches.
These consumers have high expectations. They’re curious, demanding and impatient. They want what they want, exactly when they want it. Will you make it easy for them to find and get it, when they want it? If not, someone else will.
Get the Data Right
Data that impacts a local business or a brand’s digital presence, their presence in search results, is especially important. Consistent citations, which is a mention of a business (usually online) is essential because consistency builds trust.
Depending on where the citation is online it can include the business name, address and phone number (NAP). Those on directory and review sites may also include a link to the business’ website.
This information must be consistent or search engines and consumers will lose trust and find a competitor’s website. About 80% of consumers lose trust in a local business if they find inconsistent contact details online, according to BrightLocal’s Local Citations Trust Report 2018.
Google My Business is Free Marketing for Your Business
You can start your business account by following Google’s quick guide here. By verifying your business’ background, hours, website, address and other important details you’re reducing the number of phone calls to your practice for this information, saving your staff time and improving their efficiency as well as making the customer’s search to find you easier.
With a verified business account you have control over how your business information shows up in Google searches and Google Maps. If you don’t already have an SEO strategy in place for your business, this is a good place to start. Once you’ve created your business profile, you can post updates to Google Maps, Google+ and show up in search.
Google My Business Will Change Your Business’s SEO Strategy
You’ve already listed your business on Yelp. But Google Reviews is quickly catching up to its competitors due to the success of Google Maps. How do you get your business reviewed on Google Maps? Register it on Google My Business. It allows you to tell your story, seek and respond to reviews and post pictures of your business.
About one billion monthly active users (41% of worldwide internet users) are on Google Maps. You don’t want them to scroll past your business because it lacks information or reviews. Creating a Google My Business account can literally put you on the map for new customers to find your practice without any cost to you.
Online Reviews can Have a Huge Impact
A positive, helpful review online is invaluable because people trust the opinions of others more than advertising. More people are relying on Google Reviews via Maps when they’re searching for local businesses. Encourage your existing customers to leave reviews through their Google Maps application or online.
Customers and potential customers can also answer questions about your business through the Google Maps application such as parking, wifi quality, accessibility, mood and other helpful information that can put you ahead of your competitors.
If you have no reviews or photos attached to your listing, customers are 35% less likely to click through to your website. Posting high-quality, professional photos of your business is the first step after it’s verified. Also encourage your staff and customers to upload personal, more relaxed photos.
Insights Provided by User Data Can Help You Build Your Business
User data provides valuable insights into your customers. Google My Business compiles source information for the people who called your business through Google Maps, details how they found your business and shows where visitors come from. This information can help make an AdWords campaigns more effective and less costly and improve traditional marketing as well. Your direct mail campaigns, media advertising and encouraging word-of-mouth endorsements can benefit when you know more about your customers.
By showing up in Google searches, building clout with positive reviews and leveraging user data from Google Maps, you can reach a customer base you might not have influenced any other way. Setting up a verified business account takes about a day so it’s time well spent.
It Can All Work for You
Having a successful online presence requires that you understand and know how to leverage several moving parts. If they all mesh, are well maintained and used to the fullest extent your business and its bottom line will reap the benefits. Having a competitor who’s doing this better than you do could leave you behind, playing a difficult game of catch up. If you want to learn more about how we help our clients move ahead and stay ahead of the competition, contact our office.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.
CEO and Founding Partner
Ed can be reached at