Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
If your website was removed from the 1st page in Google today, how big of an impact would it have on your revenue?
If Google stopped sending you a ton of free traffic, who would you blame?
Google for taking away your free income?
Yourself for failing to secure revenue from more reliable sources?
At the end of this post we will be providing actionable practises that will help you move from the reliance of Google as a source of revenue and into the realm of a truly reliable source.
Get on the 1st page in GoogleIf you focus heavily on search engine optimisation to attain high rankings so much so that it plays a major part of your business model.
Then you are in trouble. You are relying on a very unstable platform and by unstable we mean that it is a constantly evolving and an ever changing platform.
You do not achieve 1st place rankings and stay there forever. Someone will out do your search engine optimisation efforts and take your place. Or Google makes an update to the way it ranks website's and you could lose all your free traffic.
It has always been this way and it is nothing new to be over taken in the results page or effected by an update.
We are not saying that you should not work towards great rankings but instead focus on writing better content that will naturally rank well and is also attractive to people who love to share and recommend.
The goal of this article is to:
- Help you understand that you should write more human friendly articles that don’t look like they have just been written for Google.
- Show you that your focus should not lie directly in gaining high ranks within Google but to look at high rankings as a bonus and as a reward.
- Help you focus more time into creating a tribe of people who love to recommend and share your content and business.
Google is ever changingGoogle makes updates to the way it ranks website's around 400 times a year. Mostly minor but some can have massive impacts.
They then had to invest a lot of time and work into regaining their ranking positions. It was not an easy task but it was made possible through persistence and clever analysis.
Through these updates a lot of businesses started to realise how fragile their website was in Google, they thought they were doing everything right but the updates showed that they were doing something wrong and it was now time to improve on this. You may argue that these updates were a good thing because it gave businesses a sense of direction in the right way to rank their site.
But the truth is, the businesses hurt by these updates just learnt a new way to rank their site correctly and carried on doing it the new way. Businesses that were affected should have had a much larger awakening, the awakening being that relying on rankings is not a good business model if one update can ruin your income.
Businesses that were affected should have looked for stable alternative methods of generating revenue on the Internet. They should have been drawing up concrete strategies that are indestructible no matter what Google does to the way they rank websites.
They should not have achieved their rankings back and then sat back like everything was normal again, this is ignorance at best.
Why relying on Google is flawedYou need traffic to come to your website to turn into lead’s which hopefully turn into paying customers.
Without traffic you have no leads, with no leads you have no customers. A child could work that one out.
So as traffic is the most important component of your websites ability to generate leads. Without traffic you have zero income through your website.
So why on Earth do businesses rely on Google for the majority of their traffic? Considering how fragile the mighty 'G’s' search engine is, why would you solely strive to attain your traffic from there?
The reliance on Google rankings is heavily flawed because it’s where you want your traffic to come from, you put a hell of a lot of time into ranking highly and in most cases it will cost you in some form. Yet with a flick of a button, an update rolls out and if your penalised your traffic will drop considerably. This of course correlates to your income.
If your site ranks highly regard this as a bonus and a reward not an achievement.
A traffic source you really can rely onWe really hope you have guessed it but not to worry if you haven’t, this just means you have massive room for improvement, which is a good thing.
Referrals are the most reliable source of traffic and a good thing about referrals is that there is almost only one thing that can ruin referral's as a convertible traffic source; bad reviews.
Bad reviews are good for two reasons: (“say what?”)
- They are a chance for you to really improve and show how you deal with bad review's and what you did to resolve and improve in a pro-active way that can reassure the next potential customer.
- Bad reviews are legitimate penalties. You only get a bad review when you deserve one. With a Google update you are not punished by the way you dealt with a customer etc.
So in reality it is unfair that Google can take away your traffic and income even if you are a brilliant business when it comes to your customer handling. But that is just another great reason to why you should not put all your egg's in Google's basket.
“Bad reviews are legitimate penalties” you may be asking why this is a good thing? It is a good thing when put contrast to Google and the way they do not penalise based on your business practise. If you’re income is stripped away by being on the receiving end of a bad review, it’s because you deserve to be.
If your income is stripped away because you failed to please Google, you do not deserve it in the sense that your business practise was never under questioning during Google’s penalisation of your website and its rankings. Referrals are robust and they are undoubtedly the most reliable source of traffic.
Whether it is word of mouth, a social referral or even a high profile website recommending yours. If your business is reputable enough for a customer to tell their friends about it then you have a concrete source for traffic just waiting to be scaled up to extreme heights.
And this scaling will be covered further along this post. The beauty of referrals is that they do not rely on rankings.
No matter what position you are in Google, if a friend invites a friend to look at your business for consideration, they will not be making their decision based on where you rank in Google.
However potential customers have the mentality when searching in Google that they do not go past the first page of results, the second page is deemed as a list of unworthy businesses that are not good enough for their custom simply because they did not appear on the first page.
So your potential customer, when searching in Google is actually judging your businesses’ trustworthiness and reliability etc, based on the position of your websites rank before they even click through to your website.
Referrals however come with good judgement before they even have reached your site because they trust the referee, even before they have viewed your website they have trust in your business. Viewing your website for them will either confirm this initial trust, based on the trust they have for the referee or it will disappoint them and leave them feeling as though they should not have trusted the referee.
It is up to you to make sure that the initial trust is confirmed, this is where your time and money should be spent. Not on achieving rankings that might one day disappear. Making sure this initial trust is confirmed will be covered further along in this post.
Referrals cannot be stopped by an algorithm update but can be stopped if you deserve them to be through bad reviews.
Chain reactionA great thing about referrals is that they have a chain reaction effect.
Say a customer buys from you and then recommends to their friend’s that they should too, then a referral from that recommendation may buy from you and then recommend to their friends also.
And so on until you have an almost family tree looking referral pattern that all started from one customer and their one recommendation. And in the world of social media, one recommendation has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands and so forth.
Build a tribe that works for youA tribe is simply you’re fan's and customer's that are enthusiastic about you’re business. Those that didn’t come once then disappear but stayed and likely told their peers about you.
The people who love your business will bring you more business than you could ever imagine, such business that has the quality that will likely turn into a customer with longevity value.
ople who love your business will have no hesitation in telling their peers how much they love it. When they are asked for recommendations for products/services that are in your industry they will jump to say how much they love your product/service and they will try their hardest to convince the person that they should also use your product/service.
Next we will be explaining the phycology behind why tribe members try so hard to convince.
Get inside the mind of those who make recommendationsThere is an interesting amount of psychology behind people recommending something that people may not realise, even when making recommendations you will most likely not know about the psychology behind it.
No matter what it is. When making recommendation’s people try their very hardest to convince the person/s they are recommending too, that the recommendation is the one they should take. And why do some people strive so hard to have their recommendation picked?
It is because they desire the feeling of an increase in their perceived value and their feeling of self-worth. Take a low level employee as an example.
They may not be valued as much as the staff above them. Their role may not be as important or they may have not been in the company for long enough for their value to really shine.
Now say this employee receives their opportunity to shine in the form of a recommendation request from a very high up employee.
This employee feels two things after accepting the request: they feel a heightened sense of self-worth by the fact that they have been chosen for the recommendation, which is a natural confidence boost and they also feel a strong desire to impress with the recommendation and this desire is driven by their need for an increase in their perceived value, which ties in with the feeling of self-worth.
Why does this matter to my business?We talk about the phycology behind recommendations and specifically the desire to increase perceived value because this is the mentality you’re tribe members will have, they all love to recommend so that value can be reflected upon them.
Your tribe members absolutely love your product/service and when asked for a recommendation they want to make the best they can to achieve an increase in their perceived value. So if a tribe member is asked for a recommendation and your product/service complies with its requirements, they will have no hesitation choosing you.
The more they love your product/service the more they want to recommend it and they want to recommend it because they desire an increase in their perceived value.
With this is in mind let’s talk about the love you’re tribe members have for your product/service. Is love for the product/service enough? this one’s simple. No! A love for a product/service is simply not enough to want to shout it out from rooftops, it’s the relationship you create between the tribe member and the business that creates passion for a business which we will be explaining next.
How to treat tribe membersIn this part we are referring to the tribe members that have turned into customers.
You have to create a relationship with each and every customer and you have to give attention to and not abandon the customer. Think about all the effort that went into turning that lead into a customer, for you to sit back and think your job is done is just ridiculous.
If you are one of those businesses who gain a customer and then does nothing post lead conversions then you really do have massive room for improvement.
Customers have the ability to act as a member of your marketing and sales team. As described before: customers love to recommend for their own personal satisfaction. They do not recommend your business to help you out, they recommend you to increase their own perceived value.
So we have talked about why customers love to recommend and how valuable a customer/tribe member can be for your businesses growth. We now need to go over how you can increase the chances your tribe will recommend you.
Build the relationshipTo truly be passionate about a business you need to fall in love with every aspect of the business, not just the product/service it offers. You really have to create a connection with your customers.
Consider the sales cycle a relationship. You go through the process of attracting potential relationship's, you manage to gain an attraction from them enough to have them give you their details and then if they really like you they will become customer's.
Most people stop here, almost just like men with commitment issues do. They think achieving the customer level is enough and yeah sure they will send a few email's here and there but they rarely create something truly solid. What we are telling you now is once they have become a customer they are at the very beginning of the relationship.
This is the pivotal point in where you need to build the relationship up to appoint where you could call it a ‘marriage’. A commitment from the customer that is so strong they do not even consider looking elsewhere. Think about a product or service you really love, when you only have a relationship with the product or service you tend to look elsewhere from time to time, you look for a better deal or something with more features.
But now think about the business you really love, do you tend to look elsewhere often? Do you often look at a cheaper version of their product/service; one that may be better? But never make the move to the other business?
This is simply because you love the way you are treated by this business that you really love. So how do you take the customer to the next level of the relationship? You simply manage it. This should be done on a personal level where possible. It helps create a better relationship when the conversation's have a personal feel to them and not a business, or corporate feel.
Most of your customers do not feel companies themselves care. Initially they probably don’t even feel that the employees care, until proven wrong of course. And this is where improvement is located for those learning from this.
Show you careShow interest in your customer, ask a ton of questions and make them meaning full. Do not ask off-putting things like: “why did you choose us over X?” ask personal things such as: “Now my product X has solved problem X what other problems can I assist in resolving for you?” or “Have any new problems developed since using our product that it does not solve?”
Be inquisitive about the customer and make a point to contact them regularly. Get inside the mind of each customer, record extensive details about each and tailor your conversations around the details you have about them.
Make a point to ask at least one personal question, even if it is: “how was your day?” it does not take much to ask but as the customer you feel a sense of compassion and care and this is extremely valuable to increasing the strength of the relationship.
Reward the customer for just being a customerWhat we mean by this is a lot of companies offer incentive rewards: do X and receive X. But when have you ever been rewarded for being a customer for X amount of time? Maybe you have received something from being the one millionth customer but rarely do you receive a reward for simply staying with a company for a certain amount of time.
This lesson is so simple that you will be thinking “how come I didn’t think of that?” After you have built the relationship and recorded details of each customer you should now have a list of their business/problem wants and needs but what about their personal one's?
As a company you don’t necessary look to please the customers personal interests such as music or film unless of course that’s your industry. You look to please their business needs, or to solve their problem. But caring on a personal level is what we want to achieve so this is what we must do.
We are now going to provide an example reward that could really work for you but before we tell you it we highly recommend you do not advertise that you offer this reward anywhere, because we are not creating an incentive reward scheme so you should not advertise it. It will help the reward process stay the pleasant surprise that it should be. It is very, very unlikely that your customer does not have at least one interest in the following:
It is now up to you how you hand out these rewards in terms of frequency and value, since we do not know your financial state, we cannot tell you how often and how much you should give these rewards to your customers.
Just know that if you reward your customers with something personal they will feel like you do care about them, as a person. And if you have kept it a surprise make sure that when you give the reward you let them know it is just them receiving it; this adds the cherry on top to the personal feel of the reward.
We use iTunes vouchers as an example because it is a very practical reward and as mentioned before; it is unlikely that they won’t find a use for it. But of course this is only an example and is quite use case specific, an iTunes voucher will not always be appropriate so you may have to improvise if you wish to implement this.
Reap the rewards of rewardingHow do you think you would feel if you were rewarded for simply being a customer? If out of the blue you received a valuable reward, wouldn’t you feel good?
Like the company actually cares about you on a personal level. This is what you need to achieve in order to take the customer relationship to the next level; this feeling of care is extremely valuable when creating customers that shout their love for you from the rooftops.
If a customer is surprised by a reward are they not going to tell their peers? Will their peers not be impressed by the way your business treats its customers? If you have already impressed a potential lead/customer before they have even been on your website how easily do you think they will convert?
Customers with passionIf you have treated your customer's exceptionally well they should by now have fallen in love with your business, not just the product/service it offers but the business as a whole. Even if they do look elsewhere, the thought in their mind will always crop up when thinking of leaving you: “will this new company treat me like this company has?” chances are they will likely conclude with a no.
Guilt will also consume them as they consider switching companies. They consider how nice the company has been for rewarding them with such personal gift's and they also consider how they will feel if they left the company after how nicely they have been treated. This guilt consideration is almost like deciding whether to stab someone in the back. (metaphorically of course)
Again the conclusion likely ends up with the choice of staying with the current company. This is the exact level you want to achieve with your customers, a love for your business a whole not just what it offers. If you have treated every single customer this way, you will now have a tribe, a community of customers that have passion for your business as a whole.
This tribe can be considered a part of your marketing and sales team.
Marketing members because of the recommendations they give and sales because they do the convincing part you would normally have to do, and if you have rewarded customers correctly they will also give additional persuasions in the form of benefits from being with your company. So before a potential has even reached your site they trust you, all you now have to do is impress them with your product/service, which again a lot of that has been done by the referee.
Trust affirmation and natural rankingWe talk about referral's in depth because we want you to know that this is where your focus should lie, not in gaining top rankings in Google but in creating passionate customer's that attract lead's that don’t need much at all to convert into customers.
Now these potential leads are coming with so much assurance that your company is the one that they should use that they are not hard to convert at all. But everyone has doubts, whether it’s a doubt in the referee or your business, people naturally doubt things to protect themselves. So how do you eliminate doubt? Well let’s talk about what they might actually doubt.
We are going to be covering the doubt in your business as this is extremely important for you to eradicate. So why do people have doubts in businesses? In most cases it is whether the business is trust worthy enough for their custom.
When we say trust we mean it in the sense of expertise. You need to assure the trust in the customer that you are experts in your field and that you really can help solve the problem with truly valuable knowledge. Just like companies require a certain qualification from a potential employee; they want you to prove your expertise. And this is what you need to do; publically display a proof of expertise.
You will need to do this through content, regardless of the modality you wish to display it; you must prove expertise on your website. Extensively at best.
Write/film/record content constantly, answer every single question a potential lead/customer will have and continuously prove you know your industry well. If you can’t answer a potentials question are they not going to look elsewhere for their answer? So with this in mind you need to answer every question they may have.
If you answer all their questions, back it up with a great product/service; how can they doubt you? So you have eradicated doubt and that is a brilliant achievement but wait there’s a bonus?
What is this bonus you preach of? We hear you ask. 1st page in Google rankings of course! Just as they should be; bonuses and rewards for your effort creating content. Naturally as you write content search engine's will pick on them and if you have produced great content it will rank well and also it will be shared frequently which is a growing factor in the way Google ranks website's.
A sharing tribeWith a passionate tribe come passionate distributors of content. As discussed before; people recommend to increase their perceived value. When sharing great content it is to increase this perceived value and this happens largely on Twitter.
A lot of people that don’t write content themselves but obsessively share great content. They get a large amount of attention and sometimes almost as much as the person writing the content that these share. People see someone sharing great content and their perceived value of this person is increased, even when they know they didn’t even write the content themselves.
If someone reads something shared by someone who didn’t write the content and if they felt the content was valuable; the value is then passed on to the person who shared, again increasing their perceived value. So this brings me to why your tribe will absolutely love you if you constantly publish great content.
We know they desire an increase in their perceived value and by sharing great content they gain this increase so if you are providing them with content that they can share, they will share it.
ConclusionAiming towards and relying on Google rankings is a flawed business model, to be perfectly honest even it is 25% of your model this is too much. Google ranks pages and sites in order to provide the best results for humans, so writing content for Google which is a computer algorithm is essentially writing for a computer.
When your customers are human why in the World would you write for a computer? Considering every update Google rolls out is to make their results more human; writing for a computer algorithm is just plain redundant. Say for example you manage to rank a page very well using search engine optimisation methods, what will happen when a more human friendly version of that page is created?
It will overtake your position and even though its SEO methods are not as ‘good’ as yours, because it is more human friendly it has much more value to it. A human friendly page has its chances of being shared and linked too increased heavily, which gains links and as mentioned before: links are very large ranking factors in Google’s algorithm. When we say ‘human friendly’ we simply mean instead of writing content that a search engine will love, write content that humans will love.
This even correlates to Google’s algorithm goals of achieving a more human friendly search engine results page so it’s not like you are missing out on anything, in fact writing more human friendly content now will place you in a much better position than those who write with SEO methods now.
A better position for when Google achieves its goal of an extremely human friendly results page. Human friendly page's in its simplest form are content that is not stuffed with keyword's and instead the keyword's appear naturally. Focus on referral's because as mentioned earlier. Referrals cannot be penalised the way Google can penalise your site. Unless of course you deserve it. (bad reviews)
Time to back it upTo back this up let me tell you a story we read about two bloggers; one that wrote with SEO methods all over the content and one who knew nothing about SEO. The two bloggers were writing about the same subject yet the results of their Google rankings were very different and it surprised the writer who wrote with SEO methods. The content it’s self-provided virtually the same amount of value to its readers so it’s not a question of the content’s quality.
The one who wrote with no knowledge of SEO found his content was shared and linked to, considerably more than the other and it also ranked much, much better than the other blogger did. This left the blogger using SEO methods confused as he had thought if he wrote for Google’s algorithm he would rank highly. He came to the conclusion that his methods were not as good as the other’s was so he asked the other blogger what methods he actually used.
The reply was almost as confusing if not more so. The blogger with no SEO knowledge simply replied saying that he used NO SEO methods. “No SEO methods? How can he be out ranking me?” thought the blogger using SEO methods. And the answer is simple.
He wrote content that humans would enjoy and because human's really enjoyed reading it, his content was shared and linked too considerably more and Google picked up on this as a sign that this content must be great so it deserves to be on the 1st page in Google.
The fact is: Google is picking up on those who write for its algorithm and in turn is rewarding those who write great content for people, content that people enjoy reading.
- When writing content focus less on stuffing it with keyword's and more on creating content humans enjoy reading.
- Focus your efforts into creating a tribe of customers that love your business not just your product/service.
- Gain plenty of good reviews – just ask for a testimonial or a rating etc.
- Create strong relationships with your customers on a personal level.
- Make referrals your goal as opposed to search engine results.
- Surprise your customers with rewards that you haven’t advertised.
If we could sum up one goal from this post it would be to teach you that relying on the 1st page in Google is a flawed business model, that you should create content for people and not Google. And that you should create a tribe of fan's and customer's who love you so that you can gain valuable referral's which are leads that need little work to convert.
Can we ask you for a favour? We would love you to contact us with your answer too: What is your current conversion rate? (Total Conversions/Total Views X 100 = Conversion Rate) and realistically what percent would you like it to be? Simply send us a message with your answer and we will get back to you with our advice on how to achieve the % you would like.