The Google gin bet – how we made it to page 1 in 3 months

Online marketing gets more relevant and important for small businesses every year. And it still has room to grow.  During a recent presentation at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco, Mary Meeker (an analyst at Morgan Stanley),  said – as consumers:

“we spend 28% of our time on the internet, but only 13% of advertising is there, revealing an untapped $50 billion opportunity in online ads.”, 16 November 2010

So don’t think you’ve missed the boat or this marketing method is not relevant to your small business. We get a tremendous amount of warm leads every week from SEO (search engine optimisation), so much so, we have turned off most of our other business development activities.

About the Lucidica Google gin bet

Lucidica Google gin bet

The prize in the Lucidica gin bet

When we made it to page 1 of Google from page 72 for “IT support London” in less than 3 months, a lot of people asked “how did you do that!?”  There is around 1 billion search results coming back for that phrase, and we’re in the top 10 (sometimes top 3!).

Our answer: with a lot of hard – and smart – work.

It all started with ‘the Google gin bet’.

In late February 2009 our CEO, Troy Trewin, bet me I couldn’t lift us to page 1 for our primary search phrase (which is now returning around 1 billion search results).  Being an Englishman I like any opportunity for a win against an Australian, so took the bet.  I’m pleased to report I made it with 2 days to spare – we hit page 1 of Google for “IT support London” on 29 May 2009.

My risk was having to buy Troy a case of premium beer, but my reward was Troy buying me the best bottle of gin I could name!  He maintains he is not a gambler so when I challenged him on this, he simply said – “I win either way: if we didn’t get to page 1 of Google I got a case of premium beer, and no doubt we’ll be closer to page 1; if we make it then our business is set up for sales lead generation for a while, and less work for me!”

How any small business can improve SEO performance

Keep in mind – we’re not an SEO company, we don’t specialise in it and before the bet started we didn’t know that much about it.  Yes, we are techies so do catch onto this stuff faster than non-techies but we can share with you some of the things we did – which any business can do – to get further up the Google rankings.

There are a few techniques and projects we used to make it to page 1, and we’ll write about the key things you need to focus on here in this blog in the coming months (Google Places, on-page optimisation, off-page optimisation etc).

But first, here are some guidelines we recommend you follow:

Play fair. Don’t try and cheat the great Google gods, they are getting smarter every week.  A good way to tell if you may be cheating, and caught out, is listen to your gut – if an SEO technique sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t do it.

Work hard. SEO takes time, and hard work.  You need to put a lot of time in but the rewards can be tremendous.  Don’t give up after a few weeks, keep at it but be sure to measure your position before you start and then every week so you can see your hard work paying off. As your competitors up their SEO efforts all-the-time, and the engines change their algorithmns weekly (if not daily) you need to keep investing in this. Set up a schedule of SEO tasks you should undertake each week or month (like blogging, link building, requesting reviews on your Google Places listing etc).

Lucidica's Talkie the ToasterWork smart. Set some goals, draw up a plan, devise fun projects and delegate some of the effort around your team.  We did and it worked wonderfully spreading the workload as well as making for some interesting side projects for all involved (check out one of them, Talkie the Toaster, pictured on the right).

To get you started, check out out the Lucidica Top 7 SEO tips. We handed these 7 tips out to the 200 people we presented ‘The Google gin bet’ to at the British Library in March 2010.

Since mid-2009 we have conducted one technology a seminar a month at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre (BIPC).  The BIPC is a tremendous resource, it provides people with help and advice on how to start a business.  SEO is one of our most popular topics.  You can see seminar dates and how to book on a Lucidica SEO and technology seminar at the BIPC.

To find out more about us, the IT company for small businesses, visit our website.