They say Google doesn’t love you until people love you. At least this is the notion marketing veteran Wendy Piersall has purported, and I agree.
It makes sense doesn’t it? Think of how SEO has changed in recent years. Google is trying harder than ever to ignore suspicious link building and low quality content marketing. The search engine giant is placing much more importance on the voice of the online (and possibly offline) community.
Through social media, comments, forums, blogs, and plenty of other social and peer-to-peer content, Google is listening to the public and allowing them, in a way, to choose what sites and brands will be ranked highest in the search result pages.
You already know that it’s not just about traffic, you need conversions too. You want to make life-long customers out of your visitors and getting to page one in Google is not the way to do that. I say, take a break from worrying about what Google thinks and focus your time on your customers.
Consider the following aspects to help improve your customer loyalty and, indirectly, your relationship with Google.
Every social media platform has their version of followers. Facebook has likes, Google has circles, and the rest, well they pretty much call them followers. I don’t have to tell you followers are important, but I’m going to anyway. Followers are important, and I’m not just talking about the number (which could be comprised of mostly bots and spammers). No, I mean real customers who follow you on Twitter or Tumblr because they LOVE your brand. These are the people who will take your surveys, share your content and tell others about your products. They’re more valuable than any directory link you could ask for.
Just like your classic link building, Google knows when your followers are lousy. Don’t just go to Fiverr and buy 5,000 follows. This is counter-productive and a waste of time. I’d bet my money that if you owned a pizza business, 5 followers that tweet about pizza is much more valuable than 200 robots that tweet the same spam-jargon everyday.
If you make your customers care about you or if you do something special for them, they’ll want to give you something in return. Humans naturally don’t want to be indebted to each other so they are always giving back for something given to them.
A customer review is a perfect way for them to give back. They can tell others about their great experience and recommend certain aspects of your business or a specific sales representative that was particularly helpful.
It has been shown that 72% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. When you are shopping for a new phone on Amazon, do you pour over the specifications OR do you scroll immediately to the customer reviews?
Customers hold so much more influence than press releases, articles or ads when it comes to convincing people to buy or not to buy. Invest time in an online review platform. I recommend at least using Google Local and then one other one like Yelp or FourSquare. This can be especially beneficial if you have a local brick-and-mortar business.
Google has also admitted to using online reviews as signals for determining rank in search results. The more people that leave you POSITIVE feedback, the better. Befriend you customers and Google will take notice.
This last one is not necessarily proven but more of a hunch I have based on the latest theories about Google’s ever-changing algorithm.
If you go to your Google Analytics, one of the first things you’ll notice without having to dig too deeply is your ratio of returning to new visitors. It shows what percentage of your visitors have been to your site before and what percentage are visiting for the first time.
I believe that if you traffic is increasing, your return visitors should be increasing as well. If they aren’t then what’s happening? You have a lot more traffic, but a lot less conversions. The only thing you’re doing is letting more and more people confirm that they want nothing to do with your site.
Too often we are focused on the sale, the conversion, the signup, but what happens after that? The customer moves on. They don’t need you anymore because they got what they came for. When they need that product again, they’ll restart the process only this time they’ll pick your competitor.
What can you do to retain visitors? A nice design, stellar customer service, a friendly user interface. If you have a high volume of returning traffic, I believe Google will take notice and think to itself, “hey, people really like this site” and they’ll move you up the totem pole of results.
When I see companies that are more focused on rankings than customers it seems like they are only concerned with new business. In doing this they are neglecting those people who have already been sold on the brand. By not looking inwards at your current customer base you are trying to catch butterflies with a hula hoop. Focus on converting your current customers into stronger customers, into loyal customers, into friends. Your business will grow more naturally and it won’t depend solely on a search engine that changes its algorithm everyday. That being said, if your customers become more invested in you, Google will follow suit. I’m convinced of that.