It’s the middle of 2014, and achieving top rankings on Google search results is a different proposition compared to when I launched my company 10 years ago in 2004. Back then, thin content and bad websites ranked well as long as they had tons of links pointing to the website – whether real or fake. Google figured out that game a long time ago – if you’re still trying that, it’s only hurting you. Today, it is all about unique & quality content. Year over year, more and more websites have populated the internet. Bigger companies with larger budgets have poured millions upon millions of dollars into their ecommerce strategies, with top rankings on google being a major priority.
So, what is a small business owner supposed to do?
My answer: Generate relevant, interesting, and unique content that you think your customers will find extremely useful and valuable. If your content is educational, entertaining, and engaging, you will see results. I believe that Google is smart enough to read content with near human-like intelligence. The nearly 500 algorithms that Google employs to index the internet are really that smart. Impressive. Challenging. Daunting.
Yes, Google has raised the bar for small businesses. Unique & rich content is time consuming and expensive to develop. However, this is an opportunity for small businesses. Many small businesses operate in niche markets. That requires specific knowledge. When businesses publish that knowledge in well-written articles that Google can index, search rankings on long-tail searches naturally follow.
I will use an example from my company’s marketing efforts as an example. My business, ModBargains, is a global e-commerce retailer of automotive accessories & upgrades. On April 28th of this year, a customer came by our shop for installation of some upgrades for his 2010 Chevy Camaro. After completing the work on his car, including a new set of wheels, we did a quick photoshoot in our parking lot. After processing the pictures, a member of our web team wrote a quick blog post about the car and posted it to our company blog. Here is the link: Fully Loaded: Custom Gen 5 Camaro SS Gets Forgestar F14 Wheels. Solid article, great content – obviously very useful and informative to any customer of our’s that is driving this car or considering these Forgestar F14 Wheels.
What happened next? We published the content and promoted through our standard marketing channels: Facebook, e-mail newsletter, online forum discussion boards, and shared the post with the manufacturers of the products we mentioned in the blog. But then something great happened, totally unintentionally on our post – Google indexed the blog post. Try this: type “Gen 5 Camaro Forgestar F14 Wheels” into a Google search. As I write this article, our blog post appears as the #1 result. Tomorrow it could change, but as of now, Google has decided this blog post from 6 weeks ago is the best result for its customers.
Obviously, this is a VERY specific phrase to search for as a customer. Not very many people will type in this result, but the ones that do type it will be extremely high in quality. In most cases, they are ready to buy, and they know exactly what they want. That is the case for nearly all long-tail keyword searches when people are looking for a product or service. They’ve already done some research and have narrowed down their choice. Often, they already chose WHAT to buy, now they are deciding WHERE to buy it.
This post was not designed to get a #1 google result – it just happened. Why? Because Google thinks it is very useful to their customers (people using their search engine). And you know what? They are right! This post is VERY relevant to that search phrase. Google is smart, and they got it right. They usually do get it right, otherwise people would stop using their search engine.
I’m not a full time SEO expert. I’m a small business owner. What am I telling my web team to do these days? Write content that our customers will be able to learn from. Coincidentally, that is exactly what Google wants us and other companies to do. It makes sense. Invest in content that will help your customers, and Google will recognize your content. The rankings will follow. Stay focused on your customers – help them, educate them, guide them. If you’re still trying to manipulate Google, STOP IT. Focus your efforts on your customers.
Co-Founder & CEO