2 Google-Friendly Ways to Outrank Your Competitors

Published Jan, 29 2014
Business & Branding, SEO

spam wallCompetitors’ black-hat SEO getting you down by outranking your business with spammy link building? We hate that, too. Eventually Google will catch up and your competitors will fall from top-of-page graces, but until then we can deploy similar tactics in white-hat, customer-friendly ways.

We recently wrote about how to compete with link spammers, but we want to follow up with some concrete, actionable ideas. Below are a couple of FAQs regarding low quality shortcut tactics (which we would call spam) that can be flipped in a legit way to improve your SEO and build your brand.

Tactic #1:

Should I hire someone to create low-quality links to my site from sites intended for that purpose?

Right now this can still help you, but it’s increasingly less useful and the tactic is fraught with risks. Google explicitly doesn’t approve of the method as it doesn’t create real value. Because Google actively works to end these practices, we advise you tread carefully and resist the temptation to cheat.

Legit Approach:

Reach out to local bloggers, request to guest blog on industry partner sites, create a standards award, contribute in relevant Google+ groups, and pitch content to newsfolk.

For example, a client of ours recently wrote a fantastic article on his blog about what to do to stay safe if you’re about to hit a deer. There’s no reason a local newspaper couldn’t link back to his site if they ran a story like that. Creating, pitching, and writing a post is obviously a lot of work, but the resulting links are far more beneficial.

Tactic #2:

Should I hire someone to create fake reviews for my site on G+, Yelp, etc.?

Please don’t. If there’s one thing Google knows, it’s information about Google accounts like Gmail, right? We can assume Google considers how long the accounts have been around, activity patterns, how many reviews a person has posted, and a ton of other signals that could indicate authenticity.

Hiring someone to use fake accounts to create spammy reviews to help you show up in local search is a great way to get kicked right off the Internet. Just ask these guys. Whether it’s Google or Yelp or whomever, you’re pursuing a fundamentally dishonest strategy that risks you losing the one thing that matters most on the web: Trust.

Legit Approach:

Focus on creating experiences that warrant actual positive reviews. Then, help folks find ways to share those experiences.

Every email follow-up should include boilerplate inviting the review. Your site should link to your review pages. Segment your email databases: send a request to your customers with “@gmail.com” addresses to consider leaving a Google review, and direct the others to Yelp, et. al.

Did someone happen to tell you they were delighted with your service? Say something like, “You know, I really appreciate that. Would you mind spending a couple minutes saying that on our Google+ page? I’ll send you the link. It means so much to us that you’re happy, and our web marketer guy says it can help us online.” 9 out of 10 times they will say yes, but be ready for that followup email with the link, as folks are busy and they’ll likely forget saying yes about 30 seconds after speaking with you. If they haven’t done it in a couple weeks, consider a quick follow-up, but don’t push it.

This strategy also prevents a ton of reviews hitting your profiles at once, which can be a signal to review sites that a sudden flood of feedback may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Keep Up the Good Fight

We know it can be frustrating at times, but by focusing on happy customers and leveraging your successes online, you can outrank your competitors — especially the spammy ones. At the end of the day, Google wants the best business to win, so get to it!