Is Google Unfair Or Do You Just Have To Know How To Play The Game?

Is Google Unfair Or Do You Just Have To Know How To Play The Game?

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 My Business profile

Claiming and managing your Google My 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 GMB profile once and leave it at that; get the app and check it regularly to make sure everything’s up-to-date.

Google Posts

Speaking of your GMB profile, 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, and if you have the GMB app on your phone, you can literally throw one together on your lunch break.

Reviews

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 GMB profile 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.

Google Ads/PPC

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.

Life’s Just A Cocktail Party

Life’s Just A Cocktail Party

Mick Jagger sings the above sentiment in the Rolling Stones’ song ‘Shattered,’ written back in the 1970’s. It is just as relevant now when teaching social media to others, not just the ‘how’ but the ‘why.’ (Once you grasp the ‘why,’ the ‘how’ gets a lot easier.)

What is a cocktail party but social gathering, with the goal to meet other people and get to know them better? In terms a business owner can easily understand, it’s networking. It’s connecting with people and entities with whom you’d like to do business.

Like a large cocktail party, social media’s multiple channels can be dauntingly vast and off-putting. What makes it worth staying and mingling are the aforementioned connections, as well as social media’s ability to help establish your business’s presence locally and on the internet. Yup, we said it – your internet presence, i.e. ranking on search engines. I see we have your attention.

With most social media channels your posts will get indexed by search engines, alerting them that you are active and relevant. If you are more relevant than your local competition, who do you think will rank higher on someone’s internet search for your services in your service area? This is good stuff.

But how does it all work? Do you HAVE to be on every social media channel out there? One does not have to be active on every channel. Presence on three to four social media networks is the norm. Find the ones with which you are most comfortable and dabble.

Here are 4 tips to help you get the most out of your social media efforts…

#1 Find Your Voice

Think about how you want your brand to be presented. Who is the best person to represent the voice of your company? It’s you or a trusted member of your staff. Can others do the job for you? Certainly you receive enough spam email and robo calls hawking these services, but it is a step removed. And though it can be crisp ,it is not as authentic as your own voice. Find your voice.

#2 Find Your Medium

Do you take video at your business? YouTube, Google Posts, and Facebook/Instagram stories are for you. Do you like taking photos on the job and around town? social-media-explainedInstagram, Facebook, Google Posts, and Pinterest are great opportunities to share. Don’t forget Twitter. You’ve got options!

Don’t think you have the time to make it work? A smart phone can record a photo and a moment for later posting, either sitting in the passenger seat heading towards the next job, at the office after work, or later after dinner at home. Both paid and free tools exist to help with scheduling so you can get work done ahead of time and remove some of the pressure.

#3 Find Your Flow

Presenting your latest offer or deal repeatedly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is not ‘doing social media.’ It is a part – you get partial credit for that. For full credit, you also need to follow other accounts, share some of their posts, like some of their posts, and comment occasionally. It’s interacting. It’s being social. How do you enjoy listening to that one person at a party who talks incessantly about themselves? You likely find yourself looking for the door or hoping for a rescue text or phone call. Don’t make your customers feel that way.

#4 Find Your Sweet Spot

Sure it involves a little trial and error – after all, what works for one company may not work for another – but social media is a must. Figure out what works for your business and what engages your customers – find your sweet spot.

Social media for business is a little like a great chili recipe. There are dozens of viable and successful ways to do it right. The most important thing being: you are the one directing the kitchen.