Everyone wants to be number 1 on Google. So how do you get there? It’s often easy to expect the web should want to work to help build your business, but this is a top down approach which often offers little improvement in rankings.
Instead, ask not what the internet can do for your business, but what your business can do for the Internet – and reap the rewards.
When clients ask me “what can you/we do to get more traffic/sales on our website” there’s often a perplexed look when I suggest “find a way to give back to the internet – some way to provide valuable information, entertainment or a useful tool”. This is followed by a slight pause, then a “that’s a nice idea, but really, how can we get to number 1 on Google ASAP please?”. “Well”, I proceed to say, “the sure fire, easy to implement, guaranteed way to become number 1 on Google is…”
But first, some philosophy:
The Internet is not a place of business
“The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help people work together — and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world.” Tim Berners-Lee, 1999 – Inventor of the Internet.
From these poignant words of the creator, you’d easily think that he was attempting to foresee a kind of technology with the key function of allowing us to interact in an increasingly social way. So how can we see if this prophecy was ever fulfilled? How about we take a look at the top 5 websites most visited by Australians last month, according to Alexa.com (excluding search engines).
As you can see, aside from the sneaky entry of eBay into the mix, the majority of Australian’s use the internet as a social tool, or, as a means of learning from community built content (Wikipedia). It’s therefore very easy to see that the internet does in fact exist for a primarily social purpose – as a community that excels in freely enabling the sharing of thoughts, emotions, ideas and knowledge – and most importantly not as a soap box for the unashamed spruiking of wears.
Your business as a selfless online citizen
So what can we take from this? In short, if you want to succeed in selling on this social community they call the Internet, you’re probably going to have to start thinking of it like any other real world community group or event. As an analogy, let’s take for example the local primary school and the humble fete.
This kind of event is typically designed as a community fundraiser for an otherwise not-for-profit entity, the school. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t craftily leveraged by businesses to spruik their brand, drive enquiries and capture sales.
Possibly the best example of this is the all too common charity auction. Within this auction, plenty of businesses will give something of token value, like a product or a voucher for a service, to be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the community. In one direction, the business has selflessly given something of value to the community, which is the purpose of the event. More crucially however, the business has cunningly put its brand in front of a captive audience – lathering it in so much selfless warmth and fuzziness that it’s sure to have instantly built the kind of brand loyalty most multinationals dream of.
You’re probably thinking “Cool story about a fete (though some more talk of carousels and toffee apples would have been appreciated), but what does this have to do with getting my business to number 1 on Google?”
I’m glad you asked.
Google likes feeling warm and fuzzy too
Google, it turns out, is actually not all that stupid. Its primary goal is to deliver what people want online, and it’s getting pretty darn good at it. So-much-so that, since the release of the hummingbird update, it now knows even more about what you want than you do. That’s right, Google now even figures out your intent from a string of simple keywords, and delivers results with amazing accuracy. And to that point, it’s fully aware of what people more often than not are using the internet for (remember those top 5 websites we mentioned earlier) and so it wants to fulfill that social function as often as possible too.
So how does good SEO fit in amongst this all?
In short, SEO is no longer about tweaking web pages to trick Google into thinking you’re bigger than you are, building questionable link farms and slapping a few keyword stuffed articles in the back corner of your website (that you hope only a search engine will read). It’s about supporting the community, the World Wide Web, that supports you, and allowing Google to see that. More often than not, this is achieved by giving back valuable, shareable content – something that either informs, entertains, inspires or makes the life of the user easier.
Case and point
And how do I know this for sure. Well, from the success of my clients that do partner with us to build their online presence into one that provides value to this community. These clients are the ones that continue to kill it in their rankings, attract traffic, build authority and trust, and then convert all this into sales.
Let’s use one of my favourite clients, Discount Lighting, as a quick proof of concept. Discount Lighting is a small lighting store based over in the suburb of Rocklea, in the southern reaches of our beautiful city of Brisbane. Traditionally their focus has been on bricks and mortar retail but they were very fortunate that their director had the foresight and courage to have a crack at e-commerce. With little technical knowledge, a tight budget and a vague idea of where they needed to head, they began a partnership with Reload Media.
Asking that age old question: “what can you/we do to get more traffic/sales on our website..” we gave them the same answer. Much to our surprise they said, “great, how do we start”. Since then we set aside the time to sit down with a broad cross section of the in-store team, and figure out what exactly we can give back to the internet. We work out what questions they’re frequently being asked by their offline customers, leverage that treasure trove of knowledge and experience unique to their team, and provide those invaluable and useful answers online.
Providing an honest answer to a question like “do I really need to pay extra for an outdoor fan for my deck?” may not initially seem like the keyword you should be optimising to get a sale. However, this is exactly what you’re wanting to target to build not just strong rankings, but traffic, authority and trust in the eyes of both your potential customers and Google. And of course convert all these juicy stats into sales.
And the proof? Comparing year on year stats, these guys have achieved an extra 61 first page listings and 18 new number 1 positions across the major search engines – simply by appeasing the Google gods and providing some usefulness to the Internet. This has driven an increase of 196.48 percent in organic traffic, and resulted in an increase of more than 966.09% in organic revenue.
So much so has the success of this approach been with our clients that we’ve integrated content marketing as a standalone service into the Reload Media offering.
As promised; how do you become number 1 on Google?
So to answer that question I promised I would: What is the sure fire, easy to implement, guaranteed way to become number 1 on Google?
Ask not what the Internet can do for your business, but what your business can do for the internet.