Google has one mandate: to provide the most relevant results to its users, and in providing the most relevant results, users build trust and begin to use Google exclusively. Just about every one of us turns to Google daily to find information on everything from song lyrics to when the next time the Blue Jays game is in town. These are fairly straight forward questions to ask Google. There’s no doubt a lot of complex analysis behind the scenes; but for searches like these there are pretty definitive answers i.e. the Blue Jays are in town next Friday and the lyrics to Twist and Shout start with “Well shake it up baby now.”
Over the last decade most of us have performed thousands of searches, and each time we find what we want we to continue to build trust in Google. But what about more ambiguous queries like: “best real estate lawyer Toronto” or “best dentist in East Toronto?” We may have opinions on who’s the best, but who’s to say? More importantly does Google determine this?
Just a few short years ago it was simply a matter of optimizing for the keyword “best widget.” Pay attention to your keyword density, mention a keyword seven times for every 500 words and Google would start to think you really are the best. Another way to trick Google was to create backlinks on other websites that linked to you with exact-match anchor text of your keyword. One would simply go to a directory or to a blogs comment section and write “best Toronto Dentist” and link to my site. Do this enough times and you would start to rank. This was of course was much easier when there were fewer people do it. Suddenlythe top 10 dentists in Toronto weren’t necessarily the best dentists with the most satisfied patients and growing practices, but more so the dentist with the savviest search engine marketers behind them.
To Google these aren’t the most relevant results. Ultimately their algorithms want to turn up the dentists with the most organic word of mouth buzz. Links going from one site to another do lend to word of mouth recommendations, but now these word of mouth recommendations need to be supported by content and other social signals that are tougher to trick Google with. So what are some of these signals and how can you create organic word of mouth buzz around your site?
1. Google Places. Your Google Places page has now become one of the best ways to get your business on the first page of Google. Building a Places profile that will rank takes some leg work. You want to fill it out thoroughly, upload media, do some citation building (give Google examples of your address and business name to find elsewhere on the web). Reviews are another huge factor that will help improve your businesses organic rank. You can’t cheat these reviews (because you need a Google account to write one, and it needs a history in order to help it rank) so don’t just go around writing fake reviews, Google is smart enough to see through those.
2. Social Sharing. The most effective form of social sharing to get you ranked higher on Google is the +1 button. I know, Google+ hasn’t exactly taken off, but you can still use the +1 button to signal a recommendation for your friends. The idea is that when you +1 something, it will boost that site’s search engine ranking when your connections perform a related search. Google is investing a tremendous amount into incorporating social signals into search and with all the browsing history it has on all of us, it’s going to be very difficult to fake. Apart from the +1 button, adding social buttons for Facebook Likes, Tweet, Pins, etc. although not officially, have to be an influential ranking signal.
3. Guest Blogging. This is basically a good-old backlink surrounded by context. The only difference being that this kind of backlink takes a lot more work than a simple blog comment with your link. Here’s a simple way to get started. Set up a Google Alert for the phrase “write for us.” Let the links come in. Then find some relevant blogs that you want to write for. Create a shortlist and check the pagerank of each site. Choose the blogs with the best pagerank, contact them and provide samples of your writing. Make sure they agree to provide you with a “follow” link and use varied (but relevant) anchor text when linking to your website. Guest blogging is truly a win-win because the blog gets free relevant content and you get a valuable backlink with lots of relevant, fresh content surrounding it. Try and stay away from trading links and doing so has been suspected of cancelling out the benefits of the backlink.
Google is moving in the direction of personalized search, but it doesn’t have the data to give us a personalized result for every possible search we perform, it may never will. For those of you who have businesses that depend on the web to be discovered, if there is significant search volume for your keywords, you’ve probably got some competition.
The challenge for you is to get writing, publish new content frequently, submit guest posts, get your company on social media and make sure your Google Places profile is optimized. This is the basic recipe for organic internet marketing success. If this seems like too much for your organization call Toronto Internet Marketing agency Techwyse at 1-888-808-0015 or if you just want to talk shop find us on Twitter http://twitter.com/techwyse