Google. For the average searcher, it’s a noun, a verb, and a godsend that makes everything in life just a little easier. But for a small business owner, it can be a word that brings on rants and feelings of anxiety, victimization, and anger. After all, It’s Google’s game. Google makes the rules, Google changes the rules, and business owners are often left to figure it out, without much of a rule book.
But the reality is: You gotta play ball somewhere. And if you play with integrity, stay on top of the changes, and anticipate the next move, Google can be a really good thing for your business.
Google Brings The Crowd
According to Statista, Google accounted for about 62.5% of all search queries in the U.S. in January 2020. That means if you’re not making your business visible on Google, you’re not sticking it to Google, you’re sticking it to yourself.
Whether at home or out and about, people are searching for local businesses on their phones, and apparently the majority of them are using Google as their preferred search engine. So, you need to make sure you’re bringing your A game and playing on Google’s field, because Google’s bringing the crowd..
Covering Your Bases
So what does bringing your A game to Google mean? What are some plays that can help you win, even though it’s not a home game for you?
Google Business Profile
Claiming and managing your Google Business Profile is one of the easiest and most important things you can do when you’re playing ball with Google. This is essentially your in-search website, and Google wants it to provide searchers with all the basics, like your phone number, your address (if you have a business people can visit), your hours, the locations you serve, your website URL, and your services.
There are new features coming and going all the time (like Google Posts, Q&A, etc.) so don’t just look at your Google Business Profile once and leave it at that; get the app and check it regularly to make sure everything’s up-to-date.
Speaking of your GBP listing, you can add Google Posts to that area, including photos and videos. It’s a (currently) free way to easily showcase your work, your employees, and your specials, and put a little extra personality and incentive in front of searchers who are looking at your business, but haven’t yet clicked through to your website. Posts are super easy to do — you can literally throw one together on your lunch break.
Even though Google has a bit of a fake review problem, the need for great, authentic reviews hasn’t waned. 82% of people look at a business’s reviews before making the call or visiting the website, and with Google showing the star rating right in your GBP listing or in Maps results, it’s an easy(ish) way to make yourself stand out. So make review generation a routine part of your service, by using tools like GatherUp or implementing other tools or strategies.
You often hear that it’s a pay-to-play world online these days, and while that’s not your only option, it is a good option. Adding Google Ads to your marketing strategy can help get your business out in front of more eyes, and since Google Ads get favored placement in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), people on mobile don’t even have to scroll down to find you.
Ok, ok, but isn’t it incredibly expensive? It all depends on your market and competition. Google Ads uses a bidding system, so if you have some big competitors and you’re in a super saturated market, it can be hard to compete with those bigger budgets. But that’s not always the case. There are other factors that determine which ads get shown other than just the highest bidder.
If you’re curious about Google Ads and want to see if they might be a financially feasible option for you, give us a call. We can take a look at your market and competition, and figure out if it’s something that would work with your budget.
Google Local Service Ads
Google Local Service Ads are ads that show up even above traditional PPC ads, but they’re not fully rolled out to every market and every industry. They’re also a little bit different from traditional ads.
These feature a “Google Guarantee” badge, and Google has also tested a “booked X times near you” feature. The point of both is to encourage people to feel confident in choosing the business, because they know 1.) Google vouches for the business 2.) Everyone else is doing it.
While Google Local Service Ads are still new-ish, a lot of people are seeing great results and finding that the average cost-per-click is actually lower than that of Google Ads. But these ads come with additional rules as well, so be sure to get the run down before you get started.
Organic Search Results
While Google Ads and Google Local Service Ads (if they’re rolled out in your vertical and in your area) take up a lot of space on the tops of the SERPs, they’re not the only places people are looking and clicking. In fact, according to the latest BrightLocal Local Services Ads Click Study, organic search results still account for the most clicks, even when Google Local Service Ads are present. In other words, organic still matters.
So how do you make sure your bases are covered here?
- By making sure you have accurate and consistent listings created for your business on all of the relevant players. That means places like Google, Yelp, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and niche sites related to your industry. If you’re in home services, for example, you may want to have listings on Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Porch, and similar sites.
- By making sure your website is well-optimized, mobile-friendly, and filled with relevant content and keywords. Google’s slightly obsessed with E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness), and it will look at things like the quality of the content on the site and the bounce rate of searchers that visit your site to weigh in on that. It’s also important to have authoritative links pointing to your site, especially local links if you’re a local service business. Obviously, you want to get these links naturally, so get involved in your community, sponsor events and local sports teams, and look for link opportunities.
The Highlight Reel
Playing ball with Google may never be as fun as real baseball, but don’t throw down your bat and sit this one out. You can’t afford to. Pair up with a marketing company that watches Google’s every move, has studied every hypothetical playbook, and can signal you when you step up to the plate. With a little help and a little focus, you’ll knock it out of the park, and win on Google’s turf.