I remember that day nine years ago when I got my first visitor from Google. It was so exciting! I jumped over to my Google Analytics and wanted to see what keywords they used and where my webpage was showing up.
Many of us still have this deep curiosity with Google, and all of us want that allusive number one ranking for every keyword we can get our hands on. We all know that more traffic to a website can mean more money.
Search engine optimization is as important as it has ever been. But the rules of the game have been changing, and they will continue to change from now until forever. Today there is more to gaining and attracting an audience and keeping them than just keyword research, links and social engagement. Search engines and social media sites like Facebook are always finding new and improved ways to increase their bottom lines, and that means their interests are not aligned with our interests as marketers and business owners.
In the end, we are not their customers. Their users are their customers and they want us to pay if we want access to their audiences. Google built an empire on this principle in the early 2000s and beyond with Google AdWords, and Facebook is doing much the same.
Is there a way we can work smarter and insulate ourselves from Google’s changes in the future?
There is a lot of research, work and skill required in 2015 if we are going to rank high on any given search, let alone competitively. There is a cost to that in both time and money.
Here is the worst part … we can play by the rules of SEO today, but tomorrow the rules will change and when they do you are at their mercy. When Google changes, what about the money you spent? What about the hours of work you put into it? Is it in vain?
Yes, I believe there is a way and it’s by building an online community of loyal readers and followers.
The Purpose of an Online Community
An online community’s focus is not on SEO, but it is a strong benefit. A community is about building valuable, reciprocating relationships that bring value to those who write, read and engage with one another. Over time, this will show Google that you are a real person who has valuable ideas others want to consume and contribute to.
When Google is trying to discern if your content is a good fit for their audience (i.e. those who are doing searches) they want to know that you are competent, credible, authentic and truly helpful to their audience.
Building an online community doesn’t have to be complex. First, find influencers who serve the same audience you serve, but in a different way and start connecting with them.
Second, connect with those who may be less influential online but may have huge potential so you can help one another grow your blogs and website.
How Do You Build a Community Google Will Love?
- Leave valuable comments on blogs that enhance the conversation and offer value for both the blogger and his or her readers.
- Share the content of blog you value with your audience through social media. Give the blogger and blog exposure and let them know you’re serious about building a relationship with them.
- When you read a blog that is inspirational to you, include a comment or quote in your blog with a link to the blog article and be sure to let them know by tagging them on social media. To me personally, this holds more weight than social shares as it’s more personal and intentional. It also shows me they thought about what I wrote and valued it highly. It helps their SEO and if they reciprocate in the future it will certainly have the potential to help your search rankings.
- Repeat over time…
The benefits of this approach to building a community are numerous:
- You will meet a lot of other people who can help you propel your business. I can’t tell you how many amazing people I’ve met in the last six months alone who have introduced me to new clients.
- You will earn opportunities to write on other blogs that can expose you to an entirely new audience. These are people who need to know how you can solve their problems and make a difference in their lives or businesses.
- You will create massive new links from credible sites that are high ranking in Google and will help your website or blog move up in the rankings. This will expose you to an entirely different audience.
- You will earn new followers on your social media posts who love the value you bring to them and in turn will share your content even more.
- You will make some amazing long-term friends who do business with you for a very long time and introduce you to even more people because of the trust you’ve developed together.
Here is the unspoken reality of the internet that isn’t mentioned very frequently. Everything is inter-connected.
There used to be a time that Google only cared about keywords and links. Those days are long gone and it has become a more complex environment thanks to social media and the fight against spam and garbage content by Google.
I can remember in 2012 when Google introduced Google Panda and changed the game forever. A lot of businesses closed and many never recovered.
How Do You Insulate Yourself Against That?
First is by having amazing content that people engage with and share.
Second, by building a loyal following and community that is constant and growing by networking online with your target audience.
But what is it going to take?
It’s going to take you knowing what business you’re “really” in, what problems you “specifically” solve and who you “specifically” solve them for.
It’s going to take time in your calendar every day to be intentional and purposeful. Once a week at a minimum you ought to write well written content that answers the questions above and brings real value to someone.
It’s going to take time reading blogs, commenting and sharing them out to your growing audience.
If you want to build a community that supports and helps you build your business you have to be willing to do for others what you want them to do for you.
Do you want more traffic from Google today and in the future, regardless of what rules they make or change? If so, I encourage you to build a community that Google will love and you will never have to worry about where your website traffic will come from.