We are hearing this more and more from companies talking with us. They ranked high once and now they are dropping and their competitors are ranking higher. These can be local or national companies organically (e.g. free) ranking higher than they and they think it’s because these corporations are outranking them because they are spending money. The answer is yes but not in the way they are thinking. They are ranking not because they are paying the search engines to rank to get those organic listings. They could be paying for ads but that doesn’t measure into the organic listings. They are paying their employees or a digital marketing company to make them rank that way. Let’s take a look and see what a business owner can do to fix this problem.
These business owners, rightfully so, want to rank on the search engines as high as possible but only when they see their rankings drop or not exist at all. When a site is initially launched almost all web designers will submit the sitemaps (layout of the website) to Google and Bing (at a minimum). This doesn’t happen when you build your site yourself (unless you know how to do it) with the likes of Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. You need to create your Google My Business and Bing Business pages. This initial push, or re-push, is what we’ve called the adrenaline shot for years. It’s a one-time notification (or push) to the search engines that you exist and you want to be indexed so people can find you.
This doesn’t mean they come to your site and never come back. In fact, this initial (first time) adrenaline shot is often the most critical of them all. It’s your turn to build the trust of the search engines. You’re informing the search engines you are alive on the internet and feel you’re providing valuable information to the rest of the internet community. Often this initial push is left with “nothing”. Nothing is you don’t update your website for weeks, months, and eventually years. I look at this one-time push, in the same way, the boy that cried wolf. The first time everyone is “all over it” to find the wolf. Then the more you say “hey our stuff is great” and the search engines come back and see little to no changes they lower you in their rankings on the call to come back and keep your site at the top. We see this all the time and it’s sad as many of the people that have done this initial submission have great products and services. They just don’t care about their website and just consider it something they have to have rather than using it as the marketing tool it is meant to be.
Now that is depressing. I’ve done that. So, you’re thinking you’ve ruined your reputation by falsely informing the search engines that you are constantly updating and improving your content when in reality you were just trying to trick, lie, and manipulate the search engines to your favor. This may not have been intentional, and often isn’t intentional. It’s just that you didn’t know. In fact, we never say we know your business as if we did we would be doing your business. We know our business and that is using the recommended best practices we can get you up on the search rankings. Now with that said let’s say the other most critical part of search engine optimization or SEO, no one, again NO ONE, can guarantee you (1) that you will rank on page 1, (2) that you will rank at all [although pretty much everyone ranks], and (3) that when you do reach page 1 that you will be #1.
You may think you don’t have anything important to say. To me, that is the biggest false statement we tell ourselves as business owners. We undervalue our own story of how we started and why we continue to do what we do. Every business has a story and that story is not a one-time story. From the time we were born our story began and we need to tell people are a story. This is what makes your company unique over the next. No one story is better than the other. Each one has struggles, challenges, and a determination like no other. You need to tell your story by educating and informing. This can be over the course of weeks, months, and years. Often the storylines cross and breed new stories. This is what you need to do. You need to educate and inform.
Let’s take a look at two very unique and different stories that we’ve helped tell over the years that are both different and both owners never thought they had a story that was worth more than telling “just once”.
Railroad Steel tracks
We see railroad tracks every day and never think anything of them beyond they are something trains ride on. But what after a track is damaged, no longer used, or never used and past its lifespan? This was what one company we worked on ran into. They started and converted these steel railroad tracks and turned them into fenceposts that are used by businesses and homeowners alike. Here are some of the ideas that are used for them:
- What made you come up with this idea?
- Were you were walking along the railroad tracks and saw a pile of railroad tracks and though I could buy them at a reduced rate and turn them into something more than scrap?
- Were you a railroad safety engineer and kept seeing this problem around every railroad track?
- How do you make these items and where can you use them to benefit those who use them?
- Are they reusable?
- How would you go about doing that?
- What is the environmental impact of what you do?
You see all stories have a potential to tell many other stories and it’s this that will provide value to your visitors. Will everyone read it? Nope! Just like books, not everyone reads them. Those that do are more fulfilled, know the author more, and if the story is compelling enough will want to read more.
Our sample above with railroad tracks is really a one product solution that was missed for years by everyone until this company came around even though it was right in front of us. They have dozens of stories and it’s a true American story. Your products and services may not change much, if ever. Your story, education, and providing insight into why you do what you do, how often your employees are, your struggles (and successes) as a business owner, and how you are contributing and helping out those in your local community. That is what the internet is about. You may not post weekly, or even monthly. The key is coming up with a schedule that you can stick to that works for your audience.
The once a year or seasonal business
You may run a fall cleaning service, landscaping, or snow shoveling service. Often landscapers will now do snow shoveling and that is a story of the transition. This doesn’t mean you market just in the fall or the part of the season that you are in business. Often the best time to do your digital marketing is when things are busy so that you stay busy and in the front of your audience. If this were the case you will most likely only get repeat business and referrals. That is great starting out but it doesn’t help you grow long-term. You constantly need to be creating content. And not content for content sake. You need content that provides a value to your readers and makes them want to know more. So, what have we done for these seasonal businesses and how can marketing year long help your business grow when you are working? Let’s look at a few simple samples:
- Tell your story of why you are seasonal. You could be a school teacher and work 9 months of the year and the other three months you mow lawns, you read books as a part-time job at the local libraries, maybe you run a nursery and are only open in the spring months as the other time of the year you are traveling and getting your ideas.
- Branding is all about people learning and know who you are.
- Why you do what you do and how it can improve the quality of life that everyone that uses your products and services. Always look for a way to provide a value to your audience. It’s not always about making a sale but building visibility and trust.
Your business needs to get out there, to be seen, and to grow if you want to do it more than just a hobby. You need more than a one-time push and need to constantly be in front of your target audience. You need to take those big steps and get your good name out there. The best way we have seen over the past twenty years (yes, I am that old and have been in the web business that long) is to provide content people want to read.
I have seen companies come and go and all those that go failed on the believing their website (e.g. digital marketing) was nothing more than something just had to have. To grow your business, you must invest in it. Today that investment is not as large as it once was and can often cost less than $10 per day to get everything you need (SEO, reputation management, and social media management). If you do it yourself expect it to cost more. Yes, I know your time is “free”, but it truly isn’t. Your time is the most valuable time in your company and shouldn’t be sitting behind a keyboard and monitor (unless that is what your business is about). You are the visionary, the leader, and the one that needs to focus on its growth (in the real-world).