Anyone with a website feels the need to improve their rankings. The idea is simple: the more people that find you, the more likely you will get leads and generate sales. We need to know that our internet investment and efforts are paying off.
So what’s wrong with that? Well, actually nothing, but it can’t be done without social media. Your PageRank is basically meaningless. Google has been telling you that for the past several years now, yet we still crave those rankings.
Google has made sweeping changes as to how they rank websites but more importantly is how they now deliver on search results. There was Panda, delivering the massive duplicate content smack-down, and recently came Penguin. Google’s goal with Penguin is to penalize spammers. Indicators of search spamming are an over-optimized website and tons of irrelevant backlinks.
Penguin has even far more reaching impact than Panda if you have spent the last few years working the SEO angle to get your site to rank. Although there are many aspects to the Penguin update, one of the things you need to know is that you will lose ranking if you have accumulated or acquired a lot of irrelevant backlinks. So if you paid an SEO expert to hunt and gather a lot of backlinks, now you need to go and get them removed if they aren’t relevant or high ranking. Here is what you need to do:
Search for what sites are linking to your site
One free tool you can use is Open Site Explorer. This site offers valuable information that will help you determine if the backlink is positive for your site or not. You should contact sites linking to yours that might have an adverse effect, or those that hold no relevancy, and request that they remove the link to your site.
Acquiring backlinks to your site is still important to help your PageRank improve, but be mindful that you are getting only high value and relevant back links. And go slowly. If search engines see a lot of backlinks occurring over a short time span, then that is a sure spam trigger.
Social and local: the new keys to search
Now, here is the real kicker. If you want to get found, social and local are the keys to getting your site to show up when someone searches keywords you associate with for your business.
How does that work? Let’s say someone searches for a restaurant, a lawyer, a moving company, a delivery service or any business. Google first checks the searchers IP address for location and culls potential websites that are nearby companies. Then it checks for ratings, then moves on to social triggers and relationships.
For example, let’s say one of your friends on Facebook checked in at a restaurant using Foursquare and another friend rated them on Yelp. Google will show you that restaurant and which of your connections is associated. Google will also deliver the companies that have had the most ratings and the most social tags such as Google+ or other sharing triggers.
What can you do to get found?
- Make sure that you have registered with Google and Bing local and that your website has your complete address information.
- Encourage customers to provide feedback on sites such as Yelp, Google, or other industry-specific sites if they are relevant, such as TripAdvisor, as well as sites that rate doctors, lawyers, or other industry and professional rating sites.
- Make sure that your website incorporates social sharing options for visitors to G+, stumbleupon, Tweet, Like, etc.
- Start working the crowds. Get connected on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social sites where your clients and prospects are spending time.
- Get involved with your connections, as your interactions will increase your visibility.
- Produce content that others will want to share. Helpful guides, great blogs, how-to information, and maybe something fun.
Get rid of irrelevant backlinks, register with sites that offer a local presence, make everything online shareable, create content worth sharing, and get social!
Mardy Sitzer is a certified inbound marketing professional and president of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. Since 1993, Mardy has been delivering creative and innovative marketing solutions. An avid reader of all things internet and marketing, she also writes blogs, articles, and web content for industry magazines as well as for Bumblebee’s clients. She is an adjunct professor at Fordham University and instructor at Rutgers University teaching social media for business. Follow her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com.