by Dr Greg Chapman
If you have a website, you will no doubt be contacted daily by someone who will promise they will put you at the top of Google with their Search Engine Optimisation services. In fact if I don’t receive several offers a day, I think my email must have stopped working! But does SEO still work?
Because it wants to make more money, Google has decided to make it harder for your website to get a free ride in the organic search listings when you are trying to attract new business, to make you spend your money on Adwords. (Fancy a business wanting to reduce freeloaders and make more money!) So Google has increased the number of ads it puts on a page and made them a little more difficult to distinguish from organic searches while cracking down on some SEO techniques that used to work.
That doesn’t mean you still can’t get to the top of Google with SEO, it just means that you need to be very focused with your keywords especially as more businesses than ever are fighting to appear in those precious top few positions below all the ads. If you are choosing a plumber in your area, you will likely only look at the top 3 websites, and there are probably a couple of dozen or more plumbers who service your area all fighting for the same business, and all fighting to knock you off your pedestal if you are one of the lucky few in those top spots.
With Google Places, you can appear at the top of search, but that only works for the suburb in which your business address resides, but not for all the other suburbs you service, and where your listing will be below those businesses with addresses in those suburbs.
So even staying at the top is a battle. In fact, it’s an arms race. One way or another you will have to spend money to stay on top. And if you finally get there, Google will change the rules again.
So what else can you do?
Well you can do what Google wants you to do and pay them for ads and if you bid high enough, or design an ad with a high Click Through Rate, you can even be above the top organic searches.
But there are also other ways of driving traffic to your website. You can give Google the flick now that Facebook offers a very competitive advertising service where you can target your ads to specific demographics- age, gender, interests. While Google offers a version of this, it’s targeting is not as good. Other Social Media sites also offer advertising with their own versions of targeting.
Alternatively, you can use your Social Media accounts with posts designed to drive people to your website, although Facebook has made this far more limited to force people to pay to boost posts to increase their reach and other social media will no doubt do the same.
But there is another way. A rather old fashioned way. Build your database.
How do you do that without paying for advertising?
By connecting with people in social media. These platforms generally give you the email contact of people with whom you are directly connected. Then you can contact people directly with high value content and offers, encouraging them to click through to your website, avoiding paying the Google and Facebook tax.
This is your list. Not Facebook’s. Not LinkedIn’s. Not Google’s. Your list is possibly the most important asset for any small business. It’s the way business was done before the internet!
Of course time is involved in building a database. There are no free lunches. But you will never own Google or Facebook, but you do own your list.
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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.
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