Can’t Rank? Get Results With 5 Alternatives to SEO

Tell me something: When you do a Google search, how often do you click to page two? How often do you even scroll down? I’d guess the majority of you choose from the top four or so organic search results.

This study by Chitika last year confirms it. Just under 35 percent of Google traffic goes to the first position on the results page (compared to 18 percent to the second position). And 91.5 percent of all traffic stays on the first page.

Chitika - Traffic by Results Page

Image by Chitika. Click to enlarge.

Let’s think about that. There are 10 organic spaces available on page 1. Even if you’re ranking fifth or sixth on the page for your product or service and are getting 6 and 4 percent (respectively) of the traffic, if it’s 2 million views, you’re still doing great. If that’s you, then fine. This article doesn’t apply to you.

Search Result Position

Image via Chitika. Click to enlarge.

But the reality is, if you offer a common product and are in a metropolitan area, or not even location-based, you’re not getting in the top 10 for your key phrase because brands that are bigger than yours with greater resources and who have been doing it for a lot longer are ranking for those.

And the competition is only increasing with the daily additions of almost 140,000 new websites, 2 million blog posts and 864,000 hours of video. Daily addition. At what point do we start to realize the competition for those 10 spots on page 1 of Google are becoming futile?

If you haven’y already, it’s time to adjust your strategy to think beyond your basic SEO efforts.

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Location is your friend.

Location - Alternatives to SEO

Perform a search for your category and location (omitting location if you are not location-dependent). If you’re lucky, location-based and user review sites are ranking at the top. which means you don’t necessarily have to rank your own website. If you have a good presence on these directories, they will drive traffic to you. For example, a restaurant in the Bay Area will have a very difficult time ranking on page 1 unless they have a fabulous Yelp page and Google Places page.

Focus on long tail keywords.

Avinash Kaushik - Demand Success

Avinash Kaushik’s strategy puts your audience into buckets: “See, think, do.” “Do’ers are more likely to buy now and are performing searches specific to your brand and/or product. Your seers and thinkers are also a prime opportunity, but they do a different type of search. They research solutions and probably aren’t aware of you or your product.

When my dog had issues with hip dysplasia, I typed in a long tail keyword like “managing pain for canine hip dysplasia.” A vet in a major metropolitan area that can’t rank for “veterinarian Chicago” ranked for a long tail keyword such as this one. We ended up spending $4,000 with the animal hospital four hours away that helped solve this problem. Understand the needs and concerns of your audience by creating content that will attract them. Yes, it takes a lot of work.  

Life is more than search engines.

Google+ Social Media Updates 1

It depends on your goals, of course, but consider that sometimes, the search engines are not the end-all be-all for getting found by your buyers. If you are very much in a relationship-based business, your buyers may come to you by way of referrals rather than cold leads on the Internet.

That’s when you rely on things like:

Social. A social share of your content is in essence, a testimonial. If I’m a customer of yours, and I share something about you, (assuming it’s positive), my network is far more likely to act on it than they would a cold search. Expanding your networks in concentric circles from your current buyers and thinkers is key.

Bonus: Search results vary depending on the searchers’ location, online preferences and behaviors, and their social graph. If someone shared your content in their networks, any of those people are far more likely to get that content in their search results because search engines see it as relevant to them.

Influencers, industry media and bloggers

Collaborate - Alternatives to SEO

Focus more energy on collaborating with them on content and meeting their needs so they talk about you could be far more powerful than your SEO efforts.

User-generated review sites

Yelp - Invisible Customers

As more and more niche user-generated review sites come into existence, your buyers are looking to recommendations instead of search engines. Think Zillow for the real estate profession, Yelp for locations, and Viewpoints for appliances.

To be clear, I’m not advising you abandon your SEO efforts. You’ll want to continue to optimize your pages, just manage your expectations accordingly. And think more strategically how you can get found beyond just search engines .

Lisa Gerber is the founder of Big Leap Creative, where she helps organizations and executives take their big leaps by communicating their ideas. For more marketing advice from Lisa Gerber, click here.

Image: Eric FischerYoel Ben-Avraham, George Kelly (Creative Commons)

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