EMDs, Pandas, Penguins; Google has been in frequent action. Multiple algorithms were released this year, and they left a huge impact on the rankings of online businesses. No one really knows what Google wants at this point. However, there is one thing that no longer works: writing for Google. ‘Write for Google and Google will reward you’, this was the statement made by so-called SEO gurus and online marketing experts. While this statement did hold true in recent times where everyone was being rewarded (even companies creating auto-generated web pages), the trend has shifted. While some online companies saw their rankings declined, others have seen a boost in search engine results.

Website owners who saw an improvement in their rankings were the ones who had a community. The latest Google algorithms have given the advertising power in the hands of the customers. Strategies that were considered to be the most important are now given the least weight, and the focus has now shifted towards creating an engaged community. Being frequently talked about is the key to future success. Authoritative websites get social media mentions on a daily basis. They have a strong presence due to a large number of retweets, Likes, +1’s and other mentions.

Businesses that got affected can get back to the search engine results by devising their strategies in line with the new trend. Rather than spending money on banner ads, link-building, and other search engine optimization strategies, they should focus on building a community that gives them constant mentions on social media, and even offline. Here are few tips for building a community.

1. Increase social media awareness

You may have been spending on social media already. The common thing most businesses do is focus on getting more followers. While followers do play a role, they won’t benefit in the long run if they aren’t engaged. Cough… Lady Gaga’s Facebook page. Try to attract followers that are really interested in what you have to offer (no, don’t go on organizing competitions). Start networking with people in your industry, offer free advice, answer as many questions as possible and network with your existing customers.

2. Be active on all channels

Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ have a huge member base and you’ll find many people interested in your brands. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the less popular social media channels. Referral traffic should come from as many channels as possible. You may never know that a customer coming from a less popular social media site may be more engaged.

3. Sign up customers

A simple pop up asking customers to sign up won’t cut it. You need to be different. Customers are signing up to be a part of your community, and they should have a good reason to do so. Your landing page shouldn’t be boring, and should have a well-organized hierarchy. It should match the desire of the customer. Additional things, if possible, should include a video and existing customer count.

4. Hire someone who can get people to talk

If you’re able to get someone who can get people to create a buzz, you’ll build and grow your community with ease. Content that touches the heart of the customer will get Liked, retweeted and Pinned automatically, getting more members for your community in return.  As opposed to investing in mercurial SEO tactics that can change overtime, hiring a good writer, as mentioned in this post on the Spread Effect content marketing blog, may turn out to be the best investment you ever made.

5. Involve others

You won’t be able to do this alone. You’ll have to involve others, and the best option lies in your staff. Give them freedom to talk about your brand, and answer customer queries. Hostgator was able to build a strong online presence through their live customer support. The representatives have the freedom to talk about the brand, give suggestions and solve any customer queries.

6. Attend events

The offline tactic has a part to play. Going to events will get you more mentions. Introduce yourself to others, and tell them about your company. Take interest in their business as well. You may be able to find people who aren’t related to your business, but have a strong online community. They may mention your company name, and who knows, the new referrals may already have interests related to your brand.

Be sure to attend online 'events' as well, and by this I mean stay connected to the overall SEO community. Many prominent SEOs keep up with social media networks as if they were the future of content marketing. And, in some ways, they are. 

These actions will help you start and maintain your own place in the SEO community, which is going to grow over time if you stay on the right path. A strong community will have a strong voice, and the authority of your online business is going to increase. Search engines are now favoring website owners and online businesses that are authoritative. Once customers start giving you importance, and mentioning you on a daily basis, search engines would have no choice but to give you importance as well.