How Can You Compete with Google? (Hint: You Can’t)

How can you compete with GoogleThere are rumblings out in cyberspace that Google is preparing to launch a same-day shopping express service to compete with Amazon Prime. If you’re a mere mortal, how can you compete with online retailing superheroes like Amazon and Google? The bad news is that you can’t. The good news is that you don’t have to. The even better news is that Google itself actually provides some of the resources to help you succeed.

How is that possible? It really comes down to how people shop today. Despite challenges from other search engines, Google remains the first place many consumers visit when they are looking for a product to purchase. They may not be thinking about Google when they do it, but they go to their computers, tablets or smart phones and do a search for something.

Google understands that this is how people shop today. After all, they more or less created this phenomenon. Consumers are after information before they buy. Google knows that and it is trying to take advantage of the edge they have. It becomes kind of a “closed loop” experience: Start and complete your shopping experience in one place.

Chances are that you can’t go head to head with Google—but you don’t have to. Even though most purchase processes begin online, that doesn’t mean that they end there. It just doesn’t make sense to buy some things online. For instance, nobody is going to buy a house online. The price point is too high. The risk is too high. And people want more personal involvement in the process. There are other purchases of a similar nature that just aren’t going to happen online.

However, people still begin their search for information about houses (or whatever they’re looking for) online. And that’s where Google isn’t your competitor—Google is your ally. Google actually makes it easier for people to find you—if your site is optimized for their search engines. But there’s more involved in search engine optimization (SEO) than simply throwing a bunch of keywords into your copy. What Google really rewards is fresh, relevant, helpful content. The goal isn’t to try to outsmart Google or to try to figure out their algorithm. As a matter of fact, Google even penalizes companies that go overboard on SEO.

So what’s the “secret” to leveraging Google’s position as the leading search engine—so that you get found by the right people? Know your audience. Create “personas” for your ideal customers that highlight their interests, questions, fears, problems and wishes. Then create content that speaks to those issues instead of content that’s constantly telling your audience what makes you so great. When your audience sees that you know what you’re talking about—and that you’re willing to help them out—they’ll engage with you. That’s how you attract them in the first place—and keep them coming back.

You don’t have to try to go head-to-head with Google. But you can take advantage of what they do to reach your customers—the ones who would rather do business with you in the first place if they only knew about you.