While you can think of search engines as a neutral query tool, in reality search engines are created by company affiliates and function much like any product. They should satisfy the consumer and benefit the producer financially.
While this realistic view of search engine intent shouldn’t necessarily be red flags, you might be interested in the question of how search engines deliver results.
In particular, Google acts algorithmically to remove spam results that the search engine believes are useless to the consumer. While it’s questionable whether less spam is a good and welcome thing, what if Google sees your website as spam?
Aside from spam removal, Google is a common booster for massive companies like Amazon and Facebook. The reasons for promoting larger locations are not particularly differentiated.
Big names can outperform small businesses in terms of SEO and usually offer a wider variety of articles that can satisfy the consumer. With this in mind, this Google bias may undercut your website by burying it under big name offers.
In the world of the Google bias, you need to understand how the deck is stacked against small businesses and actively work to ensure that your website performs at its best.
How are search engines biased?
When you come across the word “bias” you may associate it with nefarious connotations.
Although it has been claimed that Google’s tendency to target search results against certain political biases, overall Google’s tendency among search engines is more likely to undermine the perceived needs of their audience too much.
Google search algorithms are based on a range of information, including how your query is worded, the reliability of sources, the relevance of pages, and myriad other factors. Even your location and settings can help Google determine the most relevant information for your search.
Obviously, the aggregation of this information is useful in suggesting sources that seek to match and satisfy past behavior, as well as other defining indicators.
In addition to these algorithms, Google distortion can be influenced by the Domain Authority (DA). This ranking metric shows both the success of your website in ranking in search engines and your website’s perceived expertise on a particular topic.
DA is measured on a number of factors, including inbound links, which are critical in calculating your score. With an increased number of inbound links from other relevant domains, an increased DA score increases in most cases.
The impact of search engine bias on businesses
Unfortunately, bias (helpful or not) can have a significant impact on small businesses that have few inbound links and sparse content. For large businesses with equally large wallets, constant content creation can earn inbound links and get a high DA score, helping them achieve top positions on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Overall, the above factors can significantly reduce the visibility of your website’s search results. Not only will you compete against big brand names, but you will also lose SERP traction if you fail to actively recruit inbound links and build expertise.
There is also a chance that if a hugely popular website (e.g. Twitter) receives a large number of inbound links, your DA may decline, draining your search rank and lowering your overall DA score.
For websites the size of Twitter or Amazon, there’s not much a small business can do to compete with the sheer number of inbound links and the resulting high DA. However, you can aim to get a higher score than your competitors by using white hat strategies to combat Google’s bias.
Ethical Strategies to Combat Search Engine Bias
While the above may seem daunting to small and medium-sized businesses looking to secure top SERP terrain for themselves, there are several strategies you can use to compete for these leaderboards.
By incorporating the following four approaches into your digital strategy, you can keep up in the battle for search visibility.
Focus on a single topic
It’s clear that Google bias means delivering results from reputable websites. However, the algorithm is also part of websites that focus on a single topic.
With this strategy you can not only collect points in the Google algorithm, but also establish yourself as an industry expert in your field.
Instead of creating a series of content, focus on a single topic that covers all of the components of the buyer’s journey and create a table of contents from there.
This task may seem overwhelming because of the amount of potential content. So here are three starting points:
- Content dealing with topics from the early journey
- Content that highlights your perspective on your topic
- Content explaining industry perspectives on this topic
Create site relevance
When we talk about search engines, the word “relevance” refers to how closely a website’s content correlates with the active search term.
Similar to DA, relevance is crucial in determining where your site lands on the SERPs for a given query.
To improve the relevance of your website, you should determine the intent of user search and create a content strategy to match those queries.
Also, make sure you are relevant to user inquiries by having the most up-to-date business information on your website and local search profiles.
Earn inbound links
Inbound links (or backlinks) are links that come to your website from an external source. This type of link goes a long way in enhancing the perceived expertise of your website. If another website links your content for clarity or additional information, then you are clearly an expert in the field.
While this all sounds wonderful, how do you earn those inbound links? Below are our top five white hat steps to success that can help you increase the number of inbound links and decrease Google’s tendency.
Rate incoming links
When you write good content, good things can happen.
Incoming editorial links are the holy grail of link building: they’re free and permanent.
The next time you create content, consider the real worth of the piece and evaluate how your audience will use it.
If it’s helpful to your industry and has guidance, you can likely get at least one inbound editorial link. It’s just because you’ve written great content.
Create useful infographics
Infographics are great tools. They allow information to be disseminated quickly without much reading.
Creating infographics on industry-relevant topics can exponentially increase the chance that another content marketer will see your graphic and refer to it in their next blog post.
Give what you get
Although these are inbound links, we cannot ignore the performance of outbound links. By connecting with other members of your industry, you expand your community.
Additionally, you increase the likelihood that the goodwill outbound link will return the benefit in the form of an inbound link.
Create unique content
Are you paying attention to missing information about your industry? You might not be the first to notice gaps in content.
If you come across any missing content, you should exploit the hole and fill in the information gaps.
Not only does this strategy benefit your website by further establishing yourself as an expert in the field, but it also gives others in your industry the ability to link to your content, which will help you get even more inbound links.
Help a journalist in need
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a service that connects journalists with potential sources. HARO sends e-mails three times a day with topics and specific questions that journalists hope to answer, as in the picture below:
When sharing answers to these questions, journalists usually cite your role as a source, link back to your website, and rate with additional inbound links.
Create Long shape content
If you’re not writing long-form content, tomorrow is the day to start.
Long-form content can give you more online visibility in terms of likes and shares, provide an opportunity to connect more with your community, and serve as a clear indicator of industry expertise.
How does long content help you fight Google’s prejudice?
A serpIQ study found that the best performing content is typically over 2,000 words.
Research by Brian Dean underscores the finding that long-form content is in many cases much more valuable to users than its shorter counterpart.
Now that we know that long-form content performs better, how can we get rid of Google bias and make your website more visible to future consumers?
Below are the top two reasons long-form content can help your website stand out from the shadows of big brands.
We’ve talked about the importance of building expertise for all content development, and nowhere is that principle truer than with long-form content.
As you create large guides, blog posts, white papers, books, and other deep content dives, you are establishing yourself not only as an expert among your peers, but also as an expert on search engines.
This can give your content and website a much greater chance of being seen by a non-indoctrinated searcher and overcoming existing Google biases.
When you create long-form content, you have almost limitless opportunities to use keywords to your advantage.
For shorter content, providing multiple keywords can be a challenge. However, having a large number of words gives you more opportunities to get your keywords working the best they can.
If you start winning on some of your identified keywords, your website can move up in SERP rankings, making you more visible to searchers, gaining an edge over your competitors and eliminating existing Google biases.
It is undeniable that there are Google prejudices. However, it is important to remember that Google biases are not inherently bad. This does not mean that small businesses are unable to break search barriers.
By incorporating these elements into your digital strategy, you can begin to overcome the Google tendency and rank your website up on the SERPs.
When implementing these strategies, keep customer intent in mind and remember not to create content for content. As with most things, the content strategy prioritizes quality over quantity.
Which white hat strategy have you used most effectively against Google bias?