Google’s holy trinity of values according to Matt Cutts is Trust, Credibility and Authority, but every time I search for something on my laptop these days the search engine results page seems to show Amazon, Ebay and other major manufacturers of goods before the smaller independent retailers (or a tweet that happens to mention the item). Do these brands now symbolise trust, credibility and authority to the point that all others must play second fiddle?
As much as I like Amazon, Ebay etc, from the perspective of SEO, where does this leave the small guys – the innovators, the entrepreneurs and the local manufacturers – those who would like to grow and develop sales nationally and internationally.
Google Local is great for hotels and other businesses looking for foot traffic, but if you sell photocopiers, cameras, books and general postable items, how do you market yourself online. Even affiliate sites not linked to the big brands seem to have been hounded out the market (search market that is) and now content farms linking to new ideas, products and services have also been hit through Google’s latest Vince update.
The challenge for newbies and SMEs is to create a strategy around your business goal(s) that provides the trust, credibility and authority through the usability of your website, the freshness of your content and an internet presence spread around several different portals – especially those used by your target market. No longer is the corporate website enough.
This is all about relevance and end user experience rather than quality per-se. Quality is an incredibly difficult term to quantify, as one user’s need/budget does not = another’s, so the relevant results are those that meet your needs as a user. Maybe brands do this better at this time, but a business needs to think through this dilemma when deciding upon its online marketing strategy.
Do you know what you want to achieve through the internet, who you want to interact with, what they need to know to buy from you, where they are searching / playing online and have you got ways to interact with them online. If they can recommend you, re-quote your words of wisdom on a topic and/or link to you, you are ahead of the game and playing the same game as the big brands.
Google may appear to contradict itself when questioned about the visibility of brands on its search results pages, but I think it is because brands invest the time, resources and budget into understanding what their customers want and deliver this, making them more relevant to end users.
What worries me for smaller business is that Google’s drive to push adwords, display ads, You-Tube ads and user interaction is pushing the online arena out of reach for many at the bottom end of the SME market taking a once level playing field and reverting back to old fashioned push advertising – your goods or service may appear when users are searching for it, but only if you have the expertise to understand how to position yourself and can afford to advertise in this arena.