Since all the recent Google changes targeting spam, online comment and blogosphere is talking about quality, targeted content to attract customers as well as improving rankings on Google.
In my view good content should always have been of paramount importance, but as Google changed the way it worked (its algorithms) to include linking between websites that all seemed to go out of the window.
The thought process behind linking was that if you had a good site with valuable information people would naturally link to you – logical perhaps, but of course (at least in my opinion) flawed from the outset and still is. People will normally only do something if they get something in return and there are countless people who try to find a way around or to comply falsely with the Google algorithm.
As is human nature the world and his brother tried to figure out a way of “cheating” Google with link farms, article sites and spammy blogs and of course it is now professed by many in the arena that Google is using social signals in its so called “ranking algorithm”. Indeed I read a report recently saying there are 83 million bogus Facebook accounts which are now sold to companies as ‘friends’ or ‘likes’. It would certainly be interesting to see how many fake Google+ accounts there are.
The good old days…
In the early days it was a level playing field on the Internet and small companies could get ahead of the game by being quick on their feet (or keyboard anyway) until all the big boys caught up and sullied things by injecting vast sums of money into getting to numero uno on Google. In effect, Google is now the equivalent to the high street where the bigger the budget and brand, the brighter your lights flash and the more likely you are to succeed. This of course takes money and the big boys will usually have more of it!
More space on the results pages of Google is now being given over to paid advertising (pay per click or PPC) where the more someone bids the more able they are to appear in those results – back to money again.
The whole point of online marketing of course is to get people to your website to sell your product or service, but this is such a complex arena now, you really need someone quite knowledgeable to establish how best to present what your company sells so that it appeals to prospects out there who would buy from you.
Furthermore, you need someone to write the content (and write it in an original manner I may add), someone to optimise that content for the Internet (for optimise, read “to make sure it’s right for Google”), someone to try and market that content both on and offline and direct traffic to your site and someone to try and negotiate or generate links to that content.
On top of all that of course, we now have the social media arena to embrace; trying to create a brand, loyal fans and a following, utilising competitions and the like – endless is a good term for all this or do I mean – tedious!
So what’s the answer?
As the title of this blog is “what can a small business do to compete?” I have always thought that one should develop a symbiotic strategy (ok, doing two things together for their mutual benefit) for online and offline marketing and if I can offer anything in this arena, (which in my experience seems to be overcrowded with so called “experts” who in essence truly know little about how to turn all this stuff into sterling) is to approach it in the way one might before the days of Google – what you would do to attract customers in a scenario where there was no Google?
Answer: write good content, which explains what you do, how you do it and what makes you different, then give customers the opportunity to purchase from you. All of this is just common sense and will help you with your online brand and search engine ranking.
One thing’s for sure though, you wouldn’t write… “welcome to our company brochure”!