Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Could this be the easiest way to be found in Google?

Getting your business listed near the top of a Google search is a very tricky task indeed. Big businesses find it hard enough, but for small businesses that don't have the time or money to put into SEO (search engine optimisation), it can be almost impossible.

There are lots of factors that determine how websites are sorted - and Google doesn't let us in on all their secrets. However, some businesses are finding that there is a relatively easy (and legitimate) way to get found on Google.

In general, Google favours the most relevant content from the most credible websites. So you need your business on websites that are well optimised for search engines, alongside words that people are searching for. One easy way to achieve this is by getting people talking (writing) about your business on a popular website. In case you haven't guessed, one good example of this is

Why are ratings so effective?

There are a couple of reasons. One is that on a review website like WOMOW, it's easy for your business name to be mentioned several times. Another is that the developers behind WOMOW have structured the web pages so that the content is easily spidered by Google. But it's also true that you could achieve these benefits from other types of websites.

The real reason that a site like WOMOW helps you get found on Google is because it's real people describing your business, in real people's language.

When people search for businesses, they use terms that you're unlikely to find on most business websites. But these are the exact same words that your customers use to describe your business. For example, the website for Mike's Sports Physiotherapy might say something like "We provide professional physiotherapy services and treat all kinds of sports problems. We offer thorough assessment and treatment which can include stretching and strengthening programs." On the other hand, one of his customers might write "I hurt my shoulder playing tennis and decided to see a physio. Turns out my injury was quite easy to treat and only took 2 sessions. I was nervous at first but Mike was extremely gentle - I'd recommend him to anyone in the Eastern suburbs."

If a potential customer was searching on Google, they might type "gentle physio for tennis injury in eastern suburbs". Mike's website would fail dismally but his listing on WOMOW would have a great chance of being one of the top results. This is an extremely powerful (and free) way to substantially improve your positioning on Google.

Surprisingly, it can be extremely difficult for a business owner to know just how their potential customers are searching on the web. One case in point was a dog trainer. He had a great website but when one of his customers rated him on WOMOW and referred to him as the "dog whisperer", his web traffic soared.

So how do you make the most of this rating phenomenon?

  1. Get lots of customers to rate you on
    Literally all you need to do is get into the habit of asking every customer to rate you. Not everyone will, but if your customers are happy with your service, they're usually more than happy to do this for you. (By joining WOMOW's Happy Customers Program, you can get flyers which you can give to customers make it easy for you to tell them how to rate your business).

  2. Make sure your business is listed correctly
    Check that your address, phone number and especially website and email address details are included an accurate. To do this, you just claim your business listing (there's no cost).

  3. Include extra information about your business
    Upgrade to an Optimised Listing and you can include a description for your business that helps you get found on Google. Here you can list the brands you supply, the areas you service, the products or services you provide, whatever it is you think people will be searching for on Google.
  4. Keep the ratings coming
    Because Google values fresh information, it gives priority to pages that are frequently updated with new content so it's important to develop a way of requesting ratings from customers systematically. Aside from handing out flyers, you could also enclose a request (or flyers) with invoices, send recent customers an email asking them to rate you, or display a sign that explains how you rely on customer referrals and ask them to rate you that way.
Start this week and watch as your web traffic grows over the next few months. As they say, it may not happen over night, but it will happen!