It doesn’t take much to make me happy, but when I get emails like this from prospective clients, I can’t help but smile:
Hello, I found you by searching Google for “search engine optimization ann arbor mi”. You were the first to come up without the aid of a paid ad. I figure if you can do that for yourself, I want to discuss you doing it for me.
This ranks right up there with word of mouth and referrals as the best endorsement an SEO consultant can get. It shows that I can back up my claims with results.
Top Rankings = Credibility and Trust
I don’t bring this up to toot my own horn (well, maybe a little), but rather to illustrate the implied credibility and trust that comes along with high rankings in search engines (emphasis added):
An eye tracking experiment revealed that college student users have substantial trust in Google’s ability to rank results by their true relevance to the query. When the participants selected a link to follow from Google’s result pages, their decisions were strongly biased towards links higher in position even if the abstracts themselves were less relevant. While the participants reacted to artificially reduced retrieval quality by greater scrutiny, they failed to achieve the same success rate. This demonstrated trust in Google has implications for the search engine’s tremendous potential influence on culture, society, and user traffic on the Web. (Source)
Increasingly, it’s not what a company says about itself that determines how credible its website is. Credibility, like trust, has to be earned and can not be bought, bribed, or faked with long-term success. Nothing generates credibility like an endorsement from a trustworthy source.
In the search engine world, many factors are associated with a website’s credibility. By far the most important factors are links pointing to that site from other websites. The more credible the originating sites are, the more credible the recipient site must be. In English, a link from a highly credible site like CNN.com is much more valuable than a link from a relatively unknown blog (or thousands of unknown blogs for that matter).
Other signals of credibility can include site usage metrics, such as the amount of time visitors spend on a website or the click-through rates from search results pages. In the future I expect to see social media factors playing a role, such as the number of times a website is shared, tagged, or “talked” about in social media and social networking sites.
Are your customers finding your website, or do you have to pay to get them there? Could your site benefit from an increase in credibility? If your business has a credibility problem, chances are your online presence will reflect that. Businesses that generate a lot of trust and goodwill with their customers or clients will reap the rewards, both financially and in terms of recommendations, referrals, links, and repeat business. What more could you ask for?
As I’ve been saying all along, “People are searching. Be found.“