In This Chapter
• The secret world of Google search
• PageRank and why you need to care
• How your customers find you
• Advanced Google search techniques
• The surprising importance of word order
To compete effectively you need to know how your customers think, who your competitors are, and how they are courting and servicing those customers. Expanding into new business areas requires the same research, so it's no surprise that successful businesses spend millions of dollars on research and competitive intelligence.
Knowing how to appeal to your current and future customers can help you identify an effective strategy for improving your visibility, but the challenge of findability, of being able to anticipate how these customers are going to look for your business, is something else entirely. Remember, your customers are out of your control and rather than lead them to your business, you need to create the best possible online business presence and wait for them to arrive.
Note: Don�t panic! You might not control your potential customers, but you can certainly influence them.
Before you get anxious about that last sentence, having your customers find you online isn't quite as out of your control as you may think. As an example, you can learn a lot by studying how more successful competitors appear online, what kind of information they offer to their potential customers, and what services they make available to existing customers.
Ultimately, though, knowing your customer comes from being your own customer. In the world of business, you'll hear this as "eating your own dog food" and it's an idea best embodied by two Stanford engineers, Bill Hewlett and David Packard, co-founders of HP. The foundation of Hewlett-Packard is the concept of "the next bench", where employees were told to build products for their colleagues. The net result? Every HP employee was also an HP customer and the company has grown into one of the largest tech firms in the world.
There are a lot of business titles that suggest you should view your customer as a different breed, as a group of people that you can never be a part of, but can only study and analyze. I find this entire philosophy baffling and suggest instead that you can and should always be your customer, at least in a sufficiently meaningful way to help you improve your business.
Inside The Book