If you’ve Googled your brand’s website lately, you’ve probably noticed something. Perhaps your listing used to be near the top of the search results or at least made the first page. Now, it’s halfway down the page, or doesn’t even make the cut! What gives?
Over the past several years, Google has made a lot of changes to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), slowly adding more and more features that optimise the user experience. Information has never been easier to find. People want to know the age of a specific public figure? Instead of having to go to their Wikipedia page, Google will provide it in a ‘featured snippet’ or information card. Want to find restaurants nearby? Google will give you a list with reviews attached.
Why is Google getting harder?
While these features make it easier for the consumer to find information, they’ve made it much harder for businesses to achieve organic listings, and thus, organic traffic to their website. If you search up your brand’s general industry, you’ll likely find two paidlistings, a local pack, map, or a knowledge graph, before finally reaching the organic listings – already halfway down the page!
Consumers can usually distinguish between paid listings and organic listings, however, there is still a portion of people that will ultimately click on a paid listing instead. And ads are becoming more expensive and difficult to spot. Where they once had a yellow ad icon beside them, the icon is now much less prominent, making it look more like an organic listing at a glance.
It’s not your ranking that’s the problem. More than likely, your ranking has remained fairly consistent over the past few years, even if your listing has moved down the page. It’s because while rankings are fairly resistant to change, your placement on the SERP page isn’t. Depending on what someone searches, different SERP features may appear for them, which will affect your listing’s position on the page.
Thankfully, there is a way you can still achieve great amounts of organic traffic. How? By not focusing on beating Google.
Play a different game
The fact is, you can’t truly beat Google at their own game. If SERP listings is a game of chess, Google is a chess grandmaster and everyone else is an amateur at best or doesn’t even know how to play.
What you can do is play a different game. We have found that people will often search Google for brand names they know rather than generic product categories. Customers want to find out more info about the brands they are buying. Things like what ingredients you use and where they come from, what is your sustainability policy or what sort of service and support you provide?
If your branding is strong and effective, your target audience will search for your specific brand name. If you can make your brand known and remembered outside of Google, consumers will choose you over your competition – without having to look at a SERP page filled with ads, maps and reviews.
Build your brand
Building a strong brand is the key to success. Harness strong ownership over your brand’s creative elements, and work on communicating with your target audience in the most effective way. Determine what makes your brand different from your competition; what unique offer or story your brand can give consumers that makes you stand out. Establish what your target audience wants, and how you can give it to them.
Tips to build a brand outside of Google
- Email lists are very effective for connecting with your audience without relying on Google. Email lists are like a pneumatic tube of sorts from which your content is sent straight to your audience in a neat little package.
- Create content that solves a problem for your audience. Great quality content will keep people interested in what your brand has to say, and make them want to keep listening.
- Social media is a great avenue for which to build the story of your brand, and communicate with your audience directly.
We are not saying, give up on trying to get higher rankings on Google. We are saying, rather, don’t focus on beating Google at a game you can’t win. Focus on building a powerful brand, with effective marketing so people come to Google with your name in their mind already.