Marketing

Google’s Killing Small Business

You Can Save Your Small Business

If you’ve noticed your Google rankings sinking this year, you’re not alone. Small business continues to get hammered by Google who continues to enjoy a monopoly on web search.

Small businesses are seeing their visibility universe shrink slowly and silently each month. They see it in their web statistics and sales. And as their website traffic sinks, large corporate and media sites with poor, superficial content are seeing the reverse – rising traffic.

It’s never been fair, but right now as we try to climb out of the recession, it just seems wickedly self-serving for Google to putting a further squeeze on.

Google just completed its much vaunted Core Metrics update in June and July, and the end result in search results is very apparent — small businesses are gone with the big companies capturing the top rankings.

And let’s face it, if a company can’t rank in the top 6 spots, traffic is almost zero.  Google makes it hard to find the button to the 2nd page of results and fills the page with extra material to keep clicks to that first page of results. This helps them sell more advertising.

And since Google hides what they do, it’s impossible for small business owners to understand what’s happening and do anything about their loss of rankings and traffic.  And while an SEO expert is a great help, these attacks on the small business ship are producing greater damage. While I enjoy helping small businesses beat big corporations online, every year the challenge becomes daunting.

As government stimulus funding tapers off, and as SMBs prepare to stand on their own feet, they’ll find it more quick sand in the desert.  There is a simple solution to SMB health, bring competition to the digital space again (like the early 2000s) and break up Google, Facebook and Amazon.  If there is another solution, please comment below.

Let’s take a look that the realm of search and why this shift to big business continues.

Google's Killing Small Business.
Google’s Killing Small Business. Screenshot courtesy of The Hill.

In fact, Google says more frequently in announcements that there’s little you can optimize for or do about it. So now they’re trying to actively discourage you from any kind of optimization or feeling of control.

The writing is on the wall for small business, that your Google traffic will diminish further. And ask yourself whether Facebook can replace that loss? Facebook has shrunk their feed reach significantly too.  With Google them enjoying 90% of the web search market, it’s not likely you’ll survive without appearing on Google. But when a company has a 90% monopoly it must operate to higher standards.

The US and European governments appear to understand some of this, but whether anything will change is a question mark. There is a growing call to break up Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and the rest of the FAANGs. If this doesn’t happen, small business health and outlook is definitely threatened.

It’s not a jab at the ownership of the companies. It’s simply the end of a game of monopoly. A new game must be started with a level playing field. The next recession will bring this point home deeply.

Big Companies Are Eating Your Lunch

A report from Matt Bentley of CanIRank published on Entrepreneur.com showed that big companies and brands predominantly ranked in the top 3 positions on Google even though their content was inferior. Here’s some very interesting things he discovered:

Big Brands dominate rankings. Screenshot courtesy of Matt Bentley and Entrepreneur.com
Big brand content less relevant.
Big brand content less relevant. Screenshot courtesy of Matt Bentley and Entrepreneur.com
SMB try more strategy to beat high ranking power of big business.
SMB try more strategy to beat high ranking power of big business. Screenshot courtesy of Matt Bentley and Entrepreneur.com

Matt doesn’t say why Google does it, but I explain this below. It’s all about money. What his research and article shows however is that poor quality content from big business does rank high, which refutes Google’s search engine spokesperson’s claim that it’s all about quality and the user experience. And user experience on small sites is often clearer, more comfortable, less cluttered, and faster than it is on big corporate sites.

What Can You Do?

You can be better than corporate marketers and draw more visitors to your content. That means putting more effort into research, content creation, content strategy, and building reach out onto the web and social media networks.
And this is about more than just search engine optimization.

It’s part of a process of “marketing your marketing” because when you extend your reach online, you build brand awareness, test your value proposition, and reach full contact and full value of the market, and grow contact with customers and the people who fit into your business support network. You’ll attract new referral business leads in different ways.

This is not to suggest it’s easy. You need expertise, time, strategy and energy. You’ll have to refocus your budget into marketing and into this “reach building project.”  When you get this strong focus and effort, you’ll begin to learn what you need to do specifically for your business and where your opportunities are.  You have to dive in.

Core Metrics, Page Experience, EAT, Mobile Usability and more

These named ranking algorithm updates Google made on its aging ranking system are technical and would bore you. However, to a long time SEO Consultant, these database indexing changes take on familiar timbre. Each technical ranking method might be different, but they all have the same goal — to rank site’s Google prefers over those they don’t.

The end result of their changes brings a consistent result — big business and big media sites rise and small business sites and blogs fall. And small business sites that try too hard might receive an extra push down the rankings.

Google’s Authority Sites Aren’t Well Respected

Google often cites quality, authority, and trustworthiness in their public announcements about rankings. However, if trust is a key factor, then why are the most untrusted organization’s websites ranking at the top for most keyword phrases?

A poll released just this week by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, suggests American’s don’t trust the media, institutions, and many believe the media is responsible for dividing the country.

56% of Americans say their go-to news source has some form of “bias,” 20% felt their preferred source had a great deal of bias, and 36% believe “a fair amount” of bias is present — Fox news. That’s not a vote of confidence for the sites Google ranks well.

Another poll by World Economic Forum (WEF) based in Geneva, Switzerland found that about 52% of the 36,000 people questioned in 47 countries said they had little or no trust in large national companies, while 48% distrusted multinational firms. 51% distrusted their national legislatures.

So big business, government, and the media, the so called authorities are not trusted, yet Google considers them to be the most credible pillars for their search result product.

Relying on Paid Advertising Damages Your Brand

There’s a revenue reason why small companies and bloggers have disappeared from the results. It’s not that bloggers can’t be brilliant or relevant, or that small companies can’t produce astonishing level quality content. The issue is that by blocking smbs out of the organic search results, Google can squeeze out hundreds of billions of dollars in ad revenue from these dislocated companies.

If SMBs can’t get exposure in organic results, they must use paid Google advertising. Google’s ad revenue has exploded at the same time that small business was kicked out of the search results.

The knowledge graph, AI, and more are constructs Google uses to further support their business view of the Web which ultimately leaves small business outside and disconnected. Big businesses have more promotional resources to cover every opportunity that small businesses use. And they push us out.

Big Corporations are Drying up the Small Business Economy

The media treats the anti-monopoly, anti-trust regulation action from Biden and the DOJ as a threat to big tech’s earnings and stock market value. However, the real threat is to the existence of small business who will see their situation worsen. As big companies continue to grab more walletshare (and search engine rankings) small businesses cease to be relevant.

And in this post pandemic K-shaped recovery, small business is in a vulnerable position. SMB owners must help themselves whether it’s with search engine rankings, or lead generation, and even product/service development. We all have to view ourselves differently now.

So politically, technically, financially, big business can remove access entirely thus helping to confirm Google’s ranking algorithm’s priorities. You fight back via better, more fresh and relevant content, networking with other small businesses and by marketing your marketing.

Many small businesses have gone out of business or have been severely injured financially because of search engine updates.

The best response to this tragedy is to refocus on creating quality content and making reference to each other, instead of the big media news reports.

As part of your strategy to improve your Google rankings, you’ll need to create valuable content for other small companies and encourage them to use it, share it, and talk about it. Create value for sure, but create a little emotion that generates engagement. And you need to promote, share and authenticate their content, and let them know that reciprocol admiration will help each other.

If you’re going to move other people, a sincere show of support and value creation will build links and shares for you.

On your side to help in the research, creation and distribution of content that will give you the links, citations, shares and traffic, is an SEO consultant.

Each Update Hurts More than the Last

This last update in early July was more troublesome than usual. The top rankings are clearly more dominated by big media corporations who are obviously enjoying their rising traffic.

As everyone’s rankings fall, their traffic falls, which means less traffic is referred to your site from other small business sites and bloggers. Without referral traffic, your back is against the wall.

It’s important not to get desperate and launch a spammy link building scam to give yourself a boost. It won’t work. Even if you buy links, they’ll disappear after a couple of months or lose their boosting power quickly. That’s a waste of money and time.

Re-energize Your Outreach

Instead, it’s time to re-energize your outreach. Outreach is about reaching website owners or social media connections who can promote your business somehow.

The content you need to do this includes:

  • posts, graphics and videos that are informational and helpful
  • posts, graphics and videos that are newsy and current
  • posts, graphics and videos that are entertaining, surprising, and which they want to share with others
  • tweets and FB posts that help you engage with your FB connections
  • social media commenting, hashtags and @mentions to reach more people
  • curated news stories or feel good articles just to share to gain attention

Social shares are good, but social likes don’t count at all on Google (or Facebook’s feed ranking). The ultimate goal is to have your content linked to from news reports, blogs or company pages. These pass ranking power and keyword info which helps you rank higher.

Should you do outreach emails to request directly with website owners? No, it’s considered spam now because so many people do it just to get a link. Typically it’s a poor quality link.

Just a note about link building.  Google is actually trying to find a way to lower the value of links and even direct keywords as signals.  They’re doing this now.  Part of a sophisticated SEO strategy from a search engine optimization consultant includes techniques that don’t rely solely on keywords and links.

Blogging with an Outreach Purpose

High quality blogging designed to help you reach targeted website owners is the best route. This content then is designed from the ground up to appeal to and entice others who publish content.  Helpful blogs, research reports, business case studies, customer experience reports, tours, industry events and happenings are just a few content ideas that work well to gain attention of key people online including influencers.

By mentioning them or their company in the article (mention how they excelled and how their product helped) and positioning them as someone vital makes them look good. It makes you look generous and more interesting too.

Your post would be written as a legitimate informational post but strategically includes many people and businesses who will enjoy being included in it. And isn’t rare that we would be included in someone else’s article?

Some big companies won’t allow such promotion of strangers or industry people. This is why their SEO efforts fail. You have to give something to get something back.

  • Ask your satisfied customers for a review and to write a post about your products/services and to share their thoughts on social media.
  • Guest posting is a top way site owners try to get reach on other websites. It can be vital however Google does consider it spam and guest post requests are treated the same as link requests.
  • Content partnerships with Influencers. Influencers are the celeb’s of the new digital era and working with them on a project which they can benefit from and promote, could work well for you. With a tangible research report, case study or infographic, you have something that can be shared and placed on other websites, or placed on your website where others will link to it.
  • News reporters and journalists. Journalists often write for big media and a link from those sites would be powerful. You need a powerful story, event, or interview to reach them. Local reporters shouldn’t be ignored as they have websites with a little authority and keyword relevance.

That’s a lot of ways to get your name, brand and influence out there on the web and social channels. It’s hard work and does take some time. From planning, to strategy to content development and social engagement, It’s the effort that prevents most companies from doing outreach.

If your goal is to become a market leader and enjoy a big jump in sales revenue, this is a wise investment during a time when Google and big media are squeezing you out of the business picture. Don’t let them succeed.

Additional Insight:  SEO Consultant | Creating Your UVP | Real Estate Marketing | Real Estate Marketing Packages | Advanced SEO | Rebirth of Organic Search | Bing SEO | Marketing Budgets | Digital Marketing Skills | Marketing for Small Business | Real Estate SEO | SEO Services