and… why Google looks at your social media involvement.
When I first started building websites and HTML was all there was to work with, all that was needed to get noticed by a search engine was a bit of a description and the right key words on your index.html page. Way back then you entered the city name in your description and even key words people might use by mistake in a search. But if you were the only dog and pony show in town you were bound to get listed as “The Only Dog And Pony Show In Town”. It was kind of like buying the biggest ad in the yellow pages. You were bound to get noticed and traffic blissfully came along your way.
Today search engines don’t need meta tags like they once did as they not only know where you live, they know the neighbourhood and sometimes the side of the street you live on. (GPS still blows my mind how it knows what side of the sidewalk I’m on but that’s not relevant here.) Type in your address once or twice and well, I assume they know what apartment number is on your door. Kind of scary, but that’s the world we live in today. Numerous search engines have come and gone and Google.com, the king of the castle, the big boy in the school yard, has become the expert and recognized leader. There is no doubt they know what they are doing. All of which brings me to why social media matters to your business.
The yellow pages are no longer relevant, and you can not stand out from the crowd with just the right description and key words hidden on an index.html page. (that’s the default home page of your website for those not in the know) Search engines have moved way beyond needing such to rate your web site. In fact Google, while using descriptions and keywords relies less and less on these old school techniques and more and more on determining your sites actual topic relevance and social influence. Part of that relevance and influence is your social media involvement. Google expects you to be social media savvy and of course so do your customers and people searching for your business.
Google wants to provide us with relevant listings and they do a pretty good job of it. They automatically know what city to get results from and then they start the process of deciding what sites are relevant, have an active audience, feature updated content and represent real businesses and not just some guy selling trinkets from his garage. So the question really is – how do you convince Google your business deserves to be listed higher on the search results than your competition? Ah, now you’re beginning to see where this all leads. Just what IS your business doing to convince Google you should stand out from the crowd?
First and foremost you need original content on your site. Freshly updated original content you or your team write on a regular schedule. That’s why so many companies now maintain lively blogs that have new and original content every day. They also provide lots of images, video and user commentary to attract and keep the reader’s attention.
If your business is not on Facebook or Twitter, well that’s kind of like not getting a business card printed. Anyone who is serious about business and marketing gets at least a business card, plain white and cheap or glossy finish and designed by a graphic artist, everyone has a card to hand out. If your business doesn’t have a Facebook page or Twitter account you are telling everyone you are not serious about attracting new business.
Obviously it’s not enough to just post to Facebook once a week and Twitter twice a day. Your competition may well have dedicated staff searching the internet for interesting blogs, articles, images and videos to share with their audience. The more that audience shares the posts the more recognition their business gets in return. Now add Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Yelp, YouTube and a few more social media sites and you can easily recognize how Google is able to determine who deserves to be recognized as having influence in their particular field. It really does make a lot of sense to list an established company with enough staff to provide daily content updates higher than a small firm that updates but once every six months. If they are to succeed in providing relevant listings with each and every search – they simply have to start with the obvious.
Then there is your potential customer. Just yesterday I was stopped on the street by someone asking for a specific sushi restaurant. I knew it wasn’t far away, but not sure which way, east or west. Out comes my ever so handy iPhone and a quick link to Yelp and we found the address within 20 seconds tops. One happy passer-by & one happy restaurant. Later that night I was out again determined to have a slice of pizza but I headed the wrong way (west). I was sure pizza was just around the corner so I kept walking. Out comes the handy iPhone and nothing! Yelp showed no one close, Foursquare was blank and Google thought I was kidding. Yet I knew there were restaurants all over the place. None of them had taken the time to build a web site and list with Google or Yelp. I felt stranded and I was hungry. I thought of course, this is exactly why social media is important. Google won’t know you exist if you don’t at least have something out there to tell them you exist. And if you have a great web site, with good updated content, you still need Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and anyone else you can get to promote you to do just that. Keep your business in front of people’s eyes, at home, on the road, or walking down the street looking for a slice of pizza. Now that over 50% of people use a smart phone and use it to find businesses – while on a walk about town – it just makes sense to be listed where they can find you.
If you’re not at least trying, your competition is. Do you really want business to go to the guy down the street just because he got the message and you didn’t? Social media is important to your business.