In February 2011, Google made big news on the Internet by publishing an algorithm change for search engine relevancy. By and large this was designed to punish duplicate content farms that re-purpose the same written content over and over in different forms. I’ve seen plenty of panicked content online about what this means to e-marketers and website developers, but little in the way of how small business owners can capitalize on the Google algorithm change. This post is for you.
Winners and Losers
There were plenty of losers that aggregate informational content that are now scrambling to learn what has happened and re-strategize ways to defeat the Google changes, much like the continued war between police radar methods and the radar detector manufacturers.
There were winners too, whose keyword positioning has increased their relevance in the alpha-dominant world of Google. Take a look at the following portion of a spreadsheet, taken from wisetartupblog.com and originally compiled by Systrix:
This is only a partial snippet of an extensive table. What you need to focus on is the % win column. By way of comparison, article farm sites like ezinearticles.com posted negative percent losses exceeding 90%. The short of it? The bad actors according to Google got their a%#es kicked and the better, content rich sites like the sampling above benefit in SEO rank as a result.
What Does it Mean to Small Business?
You might be thinking, “Hey, that’s great. Sears and Bed, Bath and Beyond might be doing better. I might pick up a few shares of stock. So what?” And you’d be right. For most of these online properties, they really don’t impact you. But take a look at the social media sites that I ‘X’d’ on the chart. Why are these important to you?
Because as a small business owner you can participate in those sites at literally no cost to you if you have the time to make a commitment to a social media strategy. Their rising tide will lift all the boats that float on their oceans. These sites are free to use out of pocket, but let’s not kid ourselves. To effectively capitalize on the use of these, you need to dedicate the time or assign or hire someone to do it. Either way you are paying for the effort, but I’d strongly suggest that you include this social media strategy as a part of your overall marketing budget, even if it means reducing your traditional media like print or radio spots. Your payback will likely be higher and increase over time.
Now, Facebook is the biggest player, and I will be the first to tell you that I don’t yet know how to capitalize on Facebook for small business as well as you likely already do. Make sure you have a personal listing and a company listing, and post your updates and upcoming events on the page, and promote your company Facebook page on your site. Soon you will build some followers that you can engage a dialogue with around your business.
This seems to work wonders for businesses with a local model, like retail or specialty stores, resorts, etc. Facebook is rapidly becoming the number one online means of organizing events like socials, customer appreciations, learning seminars and the like. People set their calendars around stuff they ‘Like’ on Facebook. I’m not an expert on this medium but know folks who are, so if you need advice, drop me a line and I’ll refer you.
I do know something about LinkedIn. Perhaps you picked up my eBook with instructions on how to get around and really capitalize on your LinkedIn presence or watched the video tutorials that came with it. Then you already know the ‘how’ of building a LinkedIn profile and working it. So why haven’t you done it yet? The table above reinforces the fact that LinkedIn is becoming more relevant in the eyes of Google, the biggest search engine of all time, with a 15% increase in keyword dominance.
My advice to small business owners is this:
- Put your profile on LinkedIn and that of your top company officers
- Put up a company profile for your business on LinkedIn and take the time to do your service listings for relevancy and searchability
- Assign someone to enlist your people in target LinkedIn Groups and participate
- Enhance your basic profile with Applications (see eBook and videos), especially posting video to your profile(s). I cannot state enough what video does to enhance uniqueness and SEO, and remember, LinkedIn profiles are indexed as individual pages on, you guessed it, Google. Google loves video. Read the next section to find out why.
You can see in the table that YouTube is also doing well under the new Google rules of the game. Not surprising, as Google owns YouTube. In fact, the Google people had to run denials and state that YouTube increases after the changes were incidental. Uh huh.
This re-demonstrates in spades what Google thinks of video content. Here are suggestions for you:
- Get some quality video content on your website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages. This does not have to cost a lot.
- Use video instead of or in addition to words to promote changes in your company, new product releases, special events, spotlight employees, or company capabilities. We have a package of Executive Video Interviews we use to help small businesses do this, recording the owner and key officers on Skype. If you don’t use us, you can still use a webcam or handheld camera, you don’t need to hire a film crew or disrupt the business for a major shoot, but it just can’t suck.
- Post your videos on YouTube on your own channel. This is free. Let YouTube host your videos and embed them in your site as discussed above. This gets the video on your site and takes advantage of the relationship between Google and YouTube, including the obvious search engine optimization gains.
The world is changing for small business. You can ignore it or try to exploit what it is giving you. Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are all rising in popularity by an extraordinary degree and show no signs of diminishing. These have long been solid strategies to promote your business but now more than ever. You can’t run your business based upon the whims of Google nor would I ever suggest it, but you can take advantage of what Google has done. If you’re not on board with these social media outlets, start thinking about it now. Begin with one of them, taste a little revenue success, and then move on to others.