‘Why aren’t we on page one?’ was the bellow from the Board Room.
The lowly Marketing Director cringed at the question. Because, yesterday everything was just fine when the site was on page one. Today of course, everything has changed.
Page Rank, what a conundrum, and it’s been brewing for several years. It’s such a rush when your website appears on page one above your competitors. But today’s online marketing experts are suggesting that Page Rank is not THE critical KPI (key performance indicator), and might an unreliable one at that.
Page Rank (named after Google founder Larry Page) was the algorithm Google created to rank websites on the search results pages. Google counted the back links on every page of each website from outside sources. The theory was that a site that had many outside sites linking to it must be important.
And then came the link farms. Google combatted illegal ‘back linking’ (black hat marketers selling links as a way of increasing page rank) by updating the algorithm and penalizing those that tried to beat the system. Google then said that there were other factors included in the Page Rank calculation, but no one ever knew for sure what they were.
Strictly speaking, Page Rank is a snapshot in time. Since Google refreshes its algorithm (current notes say 550 times per year) fluctuations are to be expected.
But most recently, the online landscape has changed. There’s so much personalization, localization, advertising and intelligence gathering, that search results are skewed. Gone are the days of ‘uninfluenced’ search results. It’s literally impossible to be ranked number one for all your customers and all of your keywords.
So while being found on page one is pretty important, and I’ll admit I check too, there are lots of other great ways to reach out to your customers, or make sure that they can find you.
Get cozy with Bing and Yahoo: At least stop ignoring them. True most searches are done on Google, but that’s not to say that Bing and Yahoo don’t generate any results. In the end, it’s really not about being on page one as much as converting a new prospect.
Get Social: Every business should be on some kind of social media platform because that’s where the customers are. Start slowly with one or two social media platforms that work best for your company. DIY videos on YouTube; professional connections on LinkedIn, event photos on Facebook… there’s a whole host of interesting ways of telling your story. Bonus: social media sites are crawled for content by search engines.
Advertise: There are businesses who invest in Pay-Per-Click Advertising, particularly re-marketing ads, which are annoying but effective. Re-marketing ads reach out to your customers after they visited your site and appear on any site that accepts Google AdWords.
Directory listings, whether free or paid for, provide back links to your site, and if the directory is large enough, such as Yellow Pages, they often get better Page Rank than most websites.
Add new web content: There’s no reason for customers to return to your site if there isn’t anything new to see. That’s why blogging is great. Each blog post can tell the story about a different part of your business while aiming for a new key word. And each new blog post is a great reason to reach out to your customers through social media or email marketing, helping to solidify your relationship while giving them another reason to do business with you.
Email Marketing: Always underestimated, ever effective, there are several email marketing programs that can streamline the work while ensuring you are CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) compliant. Even if it’s just an off-season project, email marketing gets you in front of your customers.
These are just a few of inbound marketing strategies to get your business in front of your customer.
Don’t give up entirely on Page Rank which means continuing to optimize every website page, every blog post, every social media post so you don’t miss any chance to connect with your customer.
Being found on page one is way cool! But it’s only one piece of the online marketing puzzle.