Stop thinking about what Google wants and obsess about what your visitor wants.
I just hit 10,000 feet on my Southwest flight back East from the Online Marketing Summit. Every show I attend I find there is a central theme. There always seems to be a topic that is discussed consistently. The topic I heard over and over again this past week is the socialization of the web.
We are moving swiftly into an era where everything is social. This is being driven by the individual. The end-user, your customer, has more control in the world than they ever have had before. Their voice is loud and significant.
From the Egyptian uprising to the Netflix pricing change to the Susan G. Komen debacle, these are all revolutions being lead by the individual. The individual is gaining control and has no interest in letting it go. It is very reasonable to expect this power shift to only continue.
To that end, we are seeing a continual rise in the importance of socialized content. People love being heard. They love influencing companies and organizations that are forced to listen to what they have to say.
From a search engine perspective, it is important to realize that the search engines have no loyalty to you. They are only loyal to the visitor.
I am hearing more and more people talk about Google being "evil." I think this kind of discussion is happening because Google is desperately trying to serve the best content to the visitor. It doesn't always get it right. But it is seriously trying.
This singular focus is often to the detriment of the site owner. Google cares very little if it ruins your business or not. It just cares about serving up relevant content. This is painful for many business owners that have actively pursued traffic from Google. Over the years, they have done things that have worked:
Google is doing everything in its power to get that content out of its index. The only search strategy today that will have long-term positive effects is being true to the visitor. So stop thinking about what Google wants and obsess about what your visitor wants. Right now, you have to deeply understand these things:
I think sometimes this is shocking for business owners to hear. "How could they not care about me?" Trust me. They don't care about you. And no, your product is not God's gift to humanity. It's pretty much just like every other product out there.
Your entire site needs to be socialized. Commenting tied into Facebook, Google+, and Twitter needs to be on every page of your site. You need to be in the social realm listening to what people are saying, not only about your company but your industry as well. You need to determine what your comfort level is on where to draw the line of giving things away. Then figure out how you can push that line further out.
Get rid of paywalls and registration barriers. Figure out how you can make something amazing for your customers and give it away. Trust of authority figures of all kinds is at an all-time low. There is a deep suspicion of anyone trying to get something out of people today. But trust is the key to getting a new customer. If you want to build trust, you have to be trustworthy. Gaining trust today is very hard. But it's not impossible.
These are requirements in today's business world.
They are also requirements of today's search engine optimization. Do these things and you will rank better in the search engines.
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Sage Lewis is the president of SageRock Digital Marketing. SageRock has been a leader in Web marketing since 1999, offering search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media marketing, and analytics.
Sage speaks nationally with SES and other prominent Web marketing organizations. He is one of the most sought after speakers and coaches in the field of Web marketing. From coast to coast, Sage has trained, coached, and consulted with some of the largest brands and conferences in the country.
Sage is also "The Web Marketing Video Guy" with nearly 500 Web marketing videos published. Sage writes as an expert for ClickZ in the "Search Engine Marketing" section. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.
His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
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