First impressions online are just so important. What is the first thing you do when you find out about a company you haven’t heard of before? You probably Google them. And how long does it normally take you to form an impression of that company based on that search? About 30 seconds, right?
When you think of it in these terms, it’s a scary prospect. Just like on a first date, first impressions online make all the difference. Your page one Google results are like greeting your date at the bar. It can either be smooth sailing or you can go for a handshake, while they go for a hug.
The Google equivalent is a scathing, salacious Daily Mail article on the first page of your results. It’s one of the worst things an inquisitive potential customer can come across when Googling your company. That or a terrible customer review. This can quickly turn that potential customer off before they even reach the second page of search results.
It’s therefore critical that your first page search engine result page (SERP) presents your business in the best light. Consider: what makes a good impression online?
It’s also important to know that Google is a tough date – they don’t pull any punches. Ultimately, Google’s algorithm has an inherent negative bias. There are around 200 factors that influence how Google’s algorithm ranks the search results. One of the main factors is clicks, or popularity if you like.
What type of news gets the most clicks? Well, it’s in the name ‘clickbait’. Even more popular is slanderous, gossip-based clickbait. This bias for the negative means you must be active in your approach to SERP management. You really need to pull out all the stops on this date – compliments, lobster, the full works.
Here’s how you can start to actively manage your SERP and sweep your date off their feet.
Let’s talk about the importance of control when it comes to your SERP. The idea of controlling your Google results comes from owning the information that is presented prominently about your company. The more results on the first page you own, the greater your grip on the narrative you have. We call them ‘owned assets’, the web pages that you have editorial control over.
They are gold dust in online reputation management terms. The most obvious example is your company website. But owned assets go much further than this, extending to social media accounts, business profiles and microsites.
Having an active presence on a range of social media channels becomes even more important from a Google perspective. It’s not just a way for you to communicate with your stakeholders. Social media channels are also your best friend when trying to curate a favourable first page of results.
For one, they rank well as these sites have high domain authority. And secondly, you have complete editorial control. You own the narrative through social media on your Google results. So, be sure to have a range of social media assets and optimise them for search.
Microsites and business profiles can also play a key role in owning your search results. If you create a microsite, for example, to communicate your ESG objectives, or to host information about your company’s philanthropic work, then these assets can be optimised to take up a position on your first page of results. Business profiles on sites such as CrunchBase can also be used in this same way.
The aim of the game is to create a range of owned assets, beyond your company website. Optimise them so they rank on the first page. This way you are ensuring favourable content appears and you are also obscuring any potentially unfavourable content.
Active SERP management
To ensure earned assets rank more prominently on the first page and for longer, you need to be active in your SERP management. What this means is using SEO to achieve your goals.
Firstly, you need to come up with a clear content optimisation strategy that includes a well-researched keyword list. It’s important to understand how to construct content that appeases Google’s algorithms. If you are looking to optimise existing owned assets, a third-party audit is advised. It’s always helpful to get a fresh pair of eyes on your content and the back end of how your site is structured. Sometimes it can be as simple as adding some keywords to a bio, other times it involves a full-on structural change to meet technical SEO requirements.
Then, to take your strategy to the next level, you need to start link building to your owned assets. This can be done by guest blogging and securing a link back to your website, or by improving your internal link structure. Again, a third party is well placed to start the link-building process, as it’s time-consuming and ongoing.
Diversifying with the times
Google is constantly changing. Crawlers are reviewing the search results in real-time and shuffling the order that URLs rank. New URLs are popping up and taking prime ranking positions and older URLs that haven’t been updated for a while drop into obscurity. To effectively manage the SERPs that are important to your business, monitor business-critical results and track changes and trends. Awareness of your SERPs is critical, as without awareness you can’t be confident in your strategy.
As well as the search results being in constant motion, the developers at Google are also constantly tinkering with the algorithm. Smaller adjustments aren’t communicated externally but more significant overhauls to their algorithm are announced. Albeit with little detail as to what the changes are. One of these overhauls can significantly change the search results overnight. You, therefore, need to be very agile and adapt to these changes as they come about. Stay up to date with the latest news from Google to avoid surprises.
Boost your first impressions online
At AMBITIOUS, we have a strong SEO pedigree and are in tune with the latest Google developments. We know how powerful a well-curated SERP can be. Get in touch to find out how we can help you to take control of SEO and SERP management at email@example.com or give us a call on 0117 905 1177.