During my last trip home to see my father, he told me he had an important question to ask. As he had just undergone major surgery, my ears perked up wondering what was going to come out of his mouth. Surely, it would be something of great importance. My dad cleared his throat, looked at his only daughter, and then very seriously asked what I was doing to get the guy in my life to “wife up”.
Wait – what?
Yes. My dad, the conservative Italian who threatens male suitors and wants me to move back home, was now using Jersey Shore slang to nudge me toward the altar.
I don’t think either of us will ever be the same.
Maybe it’s all the cold medicine I’ve ingested lately, but I haven’t been able to get that conversation with my dad out of my head. Not for the reasons he’d be interested in, but because I think it does a fairly good job summing up the relationship most site owners have with the entity they’re busy courting – Google.
As business owners, we need to catch Google’s eye. We have to put our goods on the table and show Google what we have to offer a potential customer. Why we’re worthy of committing to. And it’s not easy. If you want Google to ‘wife up’ with your site, you have some work to do.
How should you be doing that?
Understand what Google values: The key to winning’s anyone’s heart is to show them you have the same core goals and values. If you’re someone who values couch time, you may not be a good match for someone who prefers jumping out of airplanes. Google’s core value is to help users find what they’re looking for, as quickly and easily as possible. To court them, you need to show you have the same core value. You need to become obsessed with analyzing customer behavior to learn how to serve the people looking for a business just like you. Show Google you believe in the same thing they do (quickly solving your customers’ needs) and you set yourself apart.
If you don’t know what your customers are after – what they’re searching for, what needs they have, why they’re trying to do on your site – then you’re going to have trouble. You need this knowledge to market to them properly and provide that good user experience. If you’re not sure, you can use a keyword research tool (perhaps Google’s), your own site logs, poll them or even study your competition to find out.
Prove you mean it. With content: Once you uncover their intent, serve it by giving users content that shows you understand. I appreciate that “create good content” is the most overused statement in Internet marketing, but it’s also the most misunderstood. Creating great content does not mean to create A LOT of meaningless, shallow content. It means to become a smaller resource of quality content that is genuinely helpful and will address specific user concerns. That’s how you back up your claim that you care about customers. You can call that approach irresponsible and say it’s impossible to be sexy when you’re talking about toilet fixtures, but all that really means is YOU are not capable of doing it yourself. Suitors are turned off by personal baggage.
Get your references in order: If you’re going after a ring or a rank, you have to prove you’re worthy of someone committing to. That means getting your references in order because people judge you not only based on what you do, but on what other people say you do. On the Web, building references is also known as link building. It’s about earning enough links to show Google that there are other people who vouch for you. And just like in life, it matter who is offering up the reference. Having Danny Sullivan say you have a resource worth reading on SEO is far more valuable than your mom linking to your piece from her blogpsot blog.
Do some stalking: Forget all that nonsense you heard about how stalking is bad. It’s not. It’s helpful. Stalking someone helps you fuel a spark and create common interests. For example, we know a lot about Google that we can use to our advantage. We know that Google is interested in video. Google’s interested in images. And products. And shopping. And news. And maps. And real-time. To make Google interested in us, we need to be interested in some of those things, too. Which of Google’s interests can you use to better market to your customers? You don’t have to be involved in all of them, but the more stuff you can do that works, the better. Maybe that means optimizing your product feed for Google, maybe it means creating a lot of visual content, maybe it means starting a blog, or putting an address on your site so Google Local can snatch it up. Take a look at some of Google’s biggest interests and see which you can hop on.
If I was looking to make Google wife up (and aren’t we all?) those are the four areas I’d start with. What do you think? What are you doing to encourage Google to put a ring on it? What did I leave out?