The site that is at the top of every Google search is the site the Google thinks will be the most likely to give you the most satisfying click. I love that term. If I had the time and interest to re-brand my company again, I think I'd call it The Satisfying Click. But, I digress...
Google is the most powerful company on the Internet because they do what we most value in most of our friends and most of our relationships in general: Google gives us what we want. Which brings me to the first piece of advice in how to get found on Google:
If you want to be the top result for any given search, trying being the website that will be the most helpful to the person you'd like to find you. In other words, if you're a business attorney, and you want people to find you when they search for business attorneys, try being the most helpful business attorney on the web. What would the most helpful business attorney do for people? How can you help people do more of what they want to do? How can you give people what they really want.
Google is the top company online because everyone expects Google to give them what they want. When I ask Google for a plumber, an electrician, a flooring expert, a landscaper or anything else, I expect Google to give me exactly what I am looking for. Google earned this reputation and did so earlier and more consistently than any of the other companies that fought to be the most popular sites on the web.
Google continues to earn our loyalty because they continue to outsmart the dubious SEOs and website developers who attempt to build sites that are useful for their owners, but useless to their visitors. This is bad SEO and bad business.
A website that tries to get more traffic without trying to be more helpful is the A # 1 enemy of every search engine, A website that gets good rankings without actually being helpful is a website that no one would or should every really want to find. If Google were to start sending me to websites that were not what I am looking for, or were not helpful, I would simply stop "Googling". It would be a waste of time, and I would quickly fall out of the habit of using Google to find everything imaginable under the sun. And that would be REALLY bad for Google.
When it comes right down to it, Google has become an global habit: a self-sustaining behavior loop that consistently satisfies a need or desire.
The Habit Loop
I just finished reading Charles Duhigg's phenomenally great book The Power of Habit. In a nutshell, Duhigg describes a fundamental cog in all of human behavior, and a cornerstone of all marketing: the habit loop. The habit loop has three components:
- A Cue - the thing that triggers the habit
- A Routine - The thing you do when the habit is "triggered"
- A Reward - Some form of satisfaction that makes the effort of doing the routine feel worthwhile
Pepsodent - The Habit that Saved America's Teeth and Made Claude Hopkins Very Wealthy
Brushing teeth is a great example of a habit:
If you're like me, you just are not ready for bed until you brush your teeth. Your mouth feels yucky (a cue), or it's "time to get ready for bed" (alternative cue), and you begin the tooth brushing routine (the routine). When you finish brushing you get that "ahhh, clean feeling" (reward), that leaves you happy that you brushed.
The "it's time to go to bed so I'm going to brush my teeth" experience, is the classic Cue -> Routine -> Reward habit loop that is the core of The Power of Habit. The real power of this loop comes with a semi-addiction, the craving, we feel for the reward. It is really hard for me to go to bed at night without brushing my teeth. It just feels yucky. I crave that clean feeling I get after brushing. So much so, that the very "yucky" mouth feeling is already a trigger for me to crave brushing my teeth. The modern experience of "Googling" is a habit that is pretty similar to brushing teeth.
When I want to know something, I want to be holding my smart phone and Googling. The desire to answer a question has become the desire to Google. This is only true, because the desire to know something is so consistently satisfied by "Googling". Want to know the best sushi place in town? Just Google "best sushi place in town". Want to know the capital of Sri Lanka? Just Google, "the capital of Sri Lanka".
The desire to know something is the cue. Googling is the routine. And the satisfaction of getting the right answer is the reward. This is why good/honest SEO is so crucial to Google's long term success: if we ever stop feeling that Google does not give us the satisfaction of finding the right answer, we will stop Googling, and the core of their multi-multi-billion dollar operation will be severely jeopardized. On the other hand, if we can help that process run more smoothly, by creating the content that makes searchers happy, and effectively communicating to Google that we have what searchers will be happy to find, we are partners with the most powerful company on the Internet, and Google will make it its job to deliver our site to anyone who would be happy to be helped by the content we created.
The Bottom Line:
What Makes You a Good Fit When People Search
Here are three questions to answer when you are trying to be helpful online:
- Who are you helping? (in the case of this article, people who want to get found on Google)
- What were they looking for when they find you? (in the case of this article "why isn't my website showing up on Google)
- What question were they asking (i.e. how can I get found on Google?)
Try to include the searcher's question prominently in the title of your page or post.
Thoughts or questions? I'd love to hear them.