Bad service won’t mesh with new Google

Google is changing the algorithm it uses to determine SEO-related stuff such as page rankings, and I suspect the new rules will motivate a greater number business owners and publishers to pay more attention to reaching customers online.

Those who have long ignored the social media space, and others who’ve rejected best practices and resorted to buying or begging webmasters with unrelated goals to write insincere reviews or link to company websites, may realize just how much an overall lack of engagement is undercutting their ability to drive traffic in the digital age.

Google is also working to integrate Google+ Local pages across multiple properties, including its arsenal of search, maps and mobile tools, an indication of the email and search engine giant’s emphasis on the social networking arena. The advent of desktop publishing, advances in mobile connectivity and the phenomenon known as social media have extended to companies and brands countless opportunities to inform, encourage and interact with target audiences online. Now Google wants in the game, evidenced in part by the company’s interest in content.

It’s awesome to see owners, executives, contractors and other decision makers with a vested interest in reinforcing real-world relationships, increasing customer satisfaction, and reaping the rewards associated with value-add marketing, near-zero-agenda networking and hands-on public affairs.

Others sit on the sidelines, waiting to see what happens.

In traditional customer service environments, such as inbound call centers or retail storefronts, two primary principals apply: 1) identify the problem 2) present a solution. Any first year CSR could probably tell you that. Now consider the conflict: How would these solutions work if nobody was there to stand behind the counter or talk on the phone? In the digital space, that notion translates into a number of areas.

Who’s talking about you online? Have you joined in or listened to the conversations? Is anyone monitoring those efforts? How outdated is your website? Are there time constraints or budgets involved? What must happen to get buy-in from your team? These aren’t new questions. And the answers lie in the form of another:

Are you everywhere your customers expect you to be?

This post has little to do with how good you are and everything to do with where you may be found. I know you’re good. I know you’re a leader in your industry. I know you’ve given back to the community. Ialso know you’re interested in bringing in new business. You’re interested in standing out from the competition. You interested in maintaining a respectable image. Your interested in hiring the best employees. You’re less interested in making a sales pitch, and more interested in starting a conversation.

How do I know? I read a blog post. I watched the video. I found you on Pinterest. Your marketing rep emailed me. You pushed it out on Twitter. Google alerted me. I’m subscribed to your newsletter. We’re friends on LinkedIn. A Facebook friend told me.

Maybe not.

Maybe you didn’t bother to update your website. Maybe you forgot to tell him. Maybe you didn’t have time. Regardless of where your business is in the media cycle, maybe it’s time to realize that Google is going social and it is going full steam ahead.

Warm referrals are the lifeblood business-to-consumer organizations. And professionals in growth-oriented business-to-business oriented companies depend on credible leads to drive revenues and achieve long-term goals. As Google works to weed out the so-called black hats, and level the playing field in terms of how it rewards those who form dialogue in the social media space, it’s a great time for owners and agents to shore up their digital assets take an honest inventory of their level of engagement. Search, discovery and consideration have already taken on new meaning as more sets of wondering eyes look to videos, testimonials and online forums for answers that can’t be found on static websites, inactive social media accounts or in the yellow pages.

Consistency, transparency, and authenticity are hallmarks of social networking, and the companies and individuals most successful in the space tend to interact with friends, followers and subscribers in meaningful ways. Every business has a story. As a mind-meld of search engine optimization and social media optimization inches closer to reality, what’s stopping you from enriching the communities in which you operate, and empowering mavens, connectors or salespeople to increase visibility, raise awareness and tell stories of the brands most important to you?

On the other hand, how costly would it be if you looked back at this time next year and saw your closet competitor miles up front? Importantly, what steps can be taken to ensure you’re staying aheadof the curve?

Maybe you had the resources to solve an issue, yet failed to identify the problem. Maybe you knew what was wrong, yet failed to present a solution. Maybe you’ve got answers, yet failed to pick up the phone.

Perhaps I’ve been calling and when it picks up all I hear is static on the other end of the line.

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