Let’s face it – Google is everywhere and hyper focused on making search easier for its users. It has Local Guides making updates to Google maps and adding photos of local places. User reviews count more than ever, and you can now activate instant messaging for free in Google My Business to have your customers contact you. Further, Google Search Console will help you discover any technical issues with your website as well as search traffic analytics. All these features lead back to the Google Dashboard which supports Google’s vision statement: “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” If you keep this in mind, as a business owner it will greatly help your internet marketing efforts. Google has provided the ultimate example by tying its products together (and providing a dashboard) to make things easy to find and relevant for each user.
A most important first step is to improve your Google ranking is to ensure your Google My Business profile is complete and accurate:
- Enter complete data
- Verify your location(s) including maps
- Keep your hours accurate
- Manage and respond to reviews
- Add photos, events and promotions with new “posts” feature
Google itself tells us that to rank highest in local search results, focus on the following factors: relevance, distance, and prominence. Relevance comes first! In fact, it is so important that Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what users are looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.
Another important tool from Google is the Search Console, formerly Webmaster tools. Put your website on the free Google search console tool so that you can be alerted to any issues regarding its operation, including speed and broken links. All these factors will affect your rank on Google. You can discover:
- Which queries caused your site to appear in search results?
- Did some queries result in more traffic to your site than others?
- Are your product prices, company contact info, or events highlighted in rich search results?
- Which sites are linking to your website?
- Is your mobile site performing well for visitors searching on mobile?
Finally, remember Google+? The future of Google+ is unknown and there are signals that it may die, but you could consider creating a profile and posting there. However, there is a new feature in Google My Business that allows you to also make posts. Make sure you take advantage of putting photographs, special events, product specials and other business announcements there every few days. If Google tells us to do something we should do it!
All these products you can find on your Google Dashboard. So how do you relate your business to Google’s vision of “access to information in one click”? Obviously Google My Business is hoping to encompass that vision with comprehensive informatio all in one place. Does your business website reflect this too? Or do your visitors have to click around getting frustrated trying to find what they need? Follow Google’s lead and you will benefit from a positive ranking and more traffic.
Receive Text Messages from your Customer! Add Message Extensions.
Mobile, mobile, mobile…any good marketing strategy must include a mobile one. In fact, it is perhaps the most important as both Facebook and Google continue to find ways to connect with this largest target audience. And many of these people would rather text than call (97% of smartphone owners use texting—it’s also the “app” they use most of the time).
Message extensions allow people to see your ad, click an icon, and contact you directly by text message. With one tap on your ad, people can contact you to book an appointment, get a quote, ask for information, or request a service. Message extensions can help you grow your business by giving people another option to reach you. Of course your phone has to be capable of sending and receiving text messages, and they require your business to have a phone number that is able to receive, process, and send text messages.
These extensions can be customized to encourage starting a conversation with your customer such as, “I’d like to book a table” or “I’m interested in your promotion”. For you, the business owner, this means your customer is right in front of you and ready to convert…who could ask for anything more!
It doesn’t cost anything extra to use this extension and bundled together with Google AdWords other extensions can really make a difference to your customers’ experience and your bottom line.
Almost every time I meet with a new client to audit their site and discuss SEO I hear this familiar refrain, “I want to be on the first page of Google and at the top of the page!” I actually am glad to hear this because it gives me a chance to explain SEO…to educate my client about how search engine marketing works.
These days anyone can have a business website built in a couple of hours using popular providers like GoDaddy, Vistaprint, Wix or Weebly. However, once it’s launched, the real work begins and many new business or small business owners don’t even know what SEO is, let alone what to do or the impact it will have on their business growth. Even worse is being taken advantage of by paying for services that promise top ranking, extra packages or add-ons they may not need or understand.
SEO is about optimizing your site to deliver search engine friendly content so you can be found quickly by your prospects, make it easy for them to interact with your site and ultimately do business with you. Let’s break this down:
- optimize your site – on-page content with keywords and relevant information that solves your customer’s problems is the key. Make sure your site loads quickly and has no broken links. Google hates slow websites. Also, having a secure site (HTTPS encrypted) is now a signal in Google’s ranking algorithms.
- search engine friendly content – be relevant to what users are searching for with your content, don’t just rely on keywords; use phrases that solve your customers’ problems. 72% of marketers said relevant content creation is the most effective tactic when creating SEO strategy.
- found quickly – social media signals, blogging, links, online reviews and Google maps are crucial. Having a local marketing strategy is key. 30% of mobile searches are related to a location (Google, 2016)
- easy to interact with your site – a mobile friendly site is a must, that loads quickly, with good internal navigation that boosts user experience. More than 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load!
- do business with you – 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Demand Gen Report, 2016), 88% of users trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal).
There are two more important points I want to highlight:
- Time: It’s going to take time to rank on Google and other search engines. Regardless of your strategy, unless you are paying for ads, you may not see results for a few weeks (depending on your business and competition). Remember, even if you become #1, your competition is likely doing the same work on SEO you are and will outrank you if they can!
- Voice Search: In case you are thinking you might get away without an SEO strategy, the future has already arrived with voice search. According to HubSpot (2015) 19% of people use Siri at least daily and 60% of smartphone users who use voice search have begun using it within the past year (Search Engine Land, 2015). Further 43% of mobile voice search users do so because they say it is quicker than going on a website or using an app (Statista, 2015). If you are a local business, let’s say a plumber, you don’t want to be left out when someone stands in their living room and asks their Echo, “Find me a plumber in xxxtown with a five star rating.”
SEO isn’t rocket science, but it takes planning, execution and persistence. Google search rankings are important, but if you are getting sales and growing your business then this is the real measure of success.
As a small business, you might consider hiring someone to help you with SEO, so make sure to find a trusted partner that has your best interests in mind.
Thank you for reading and feel free to contact me. Please share if you think it will help someone or share your owns SEO success or struggle with your business.