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Leverage Your Customers to Drive Search Traffic to Your Site

In light of the launch of Google’s Search plus Your World, we look at how your business can influence your existing customers in a way that will help you get more people to visit your website.

Online Reviews

It is widely acknowledged that online reviews influence rankings in both Google Places and Google Shopping.  This has enabled Google to give a stronger voice to the people, whether all of them realise it or not!  To put it crudely, the more quality reviews you receive the higher you are likely to rank in these two features.  So, to improve the rankings of your places page, you should encourage your customers to review your business.  For the rankings of your Google Places listing, it is most effective for the review to be on your places page itself, but other reputable sites like Yelp also have a bearing on it. When it comes to improving your positioning with Google Shopping you should encourage reviews of your company on Google Checkout if you have it, but also on other seller review sites.

There is of course a benefit to the general public that comes with this that goes beyond the provision of what Google believes to be the most useful search results. It is plausible that it will help drive up the levels of service as well as online user experience as companies realise the importance of higher quality reviews in relation to the amount of traffic they receive online.

Social Media

There is a debate surrounding exactly to what extent you can genuinely plan and account for the influence of social media on your search engine rank and even your traffic levels. Despite the fact that there is a certain amount of tension surrounding exactly what content Google is prepared to consider meritorious however, this sphere should not be ignored in terms of its potential to influence the amount of traffic you can drive to your site…

Say for example you have a great piece of content; using a channel like Twitter to raise awareness of it can help with the amount of traffic your site will gain. That one is pretty obvious: if you post a link someone may click on it and if you’re lucky ReTweet it. Also, the more people that see and like something great on your site, the greater the chance that someone will put a link to it from their site or blog, which is more likely to help your search engine ranking, especially if the site is considered to be a strong one and relevant to the keyphrase that is being searched for.

The Future

Google have rolled out Search plus Your World in an attempt to personalise an individual’s search results based on the information they know about them (and their friends) from Google+. Therefore it may help your business if you were to set up a Google+ page, get people to add you to their Circles and start acquiring those +1s, as the more people you are connected to, the more often you are likely to feature in their search results.

It is feasible that in the future this could influence the places rankings too.  If for example I were to search for ‘Edinburgh Café’, the businesses that appear in my Places listings results may start to be influenced by my friend’s activity; i.e. the more they’ve been mentioned,  reviewed and checked-in at by my friends, the higher they may rank.  Let’s hope this doesn’t get too creepy though: What if I searched for ‘Pubs in Edinburgh’ and Google could tell me which of my friends were at which pubs at that very moment?

Nevertheless, this opens up an interesting opportunity for businesses. You should actively encourage your client base to be adding you on Google+ as well as checking in at, reviewing and mentioning your business as often as possible.

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