Everyone these days wants some love from Google. No, not cuddling with the Googz like a furry Pillow-Pet. What we mean is that true business leaders want their brand to be found first when eager buyers look for a trusted service or a reliable product… and what better place to be positioned than an engine gobbling and serving up 3.5billion searches every single day.
There is still a lot of confusion on what to do to get this kind of prime positioning on the search giant. On one hand, many naively think that just placing a website on a hosting provider will automatically sound an alarm at the offices in Mountain View, CA, which will in turn cause their site to be properly indexed.
On the other hand, with so many conflicting opinions from “experts,” “gurus,” and “ninjas,” business owners are duped into thinking that they have to pay several thousands of dollars per month just to spin a costly roulette called “SEO.”
The fact of the matter is that there are a few critical actions you and your internal team can take to place your brand right under Google’s spotlight. How can I be so sure about this? Well, for one, Google has never been clearer on their guidelines and best practices.
Aside from this, they’ve made their tools freely available, which although they may take a bit of an expert mind to wade through to the fullest extent, they’re not anywhere nearly as complicated as some of your current business operations, such as keeping your finances in check or hiring the right team member.
Here’s a handy list of actions you can take today to raise your visibility on Google:
1- Get Set Up on Google Business
Google has made it very easy for businesses to place a listing on their massive directory, but it does take a bit of effort and time.
The place to begin is Google My Business, which will lead you through every necessary step to list your business properly.
Once you begin filling in the minimum requirements — business name, phone number, and address — you will need to wait a few days until Google sends you a verification code via USPS, aka “Snail Mail.” Yes, although Google is the king of digital, you’ll need a code physically sent to you in order get the coveted green “verified” check mark.
This is how our Google Business Dashboard looked once verified.
As this listing will appear on Google Searches, Google Maps, and Google+, the key here is to add as much relevant information as possible. Businesses that appear like they “have it together” are much more likely to be taken seriously by eager buyers willing to take action immediately, either by visiting, picking up the phone, or clicking to the company’s website.
A few additional tips:
- • Pay extra attention to the phone number you add on your business’ profile. This is the number that will be at the forefront of your Google Business listing, so you want to make sure you select a number that is working during the hours you’ve selected under “Open Hours.”
- • Upload a few interior photos and, if possible, exterior photos as well. Curious people seeking for what you do often enjoy taking a “virtual peek” into your offices.
- • A business listing with a catchy logo will always be more attractive than one with no identity to speak about. Make sure your logo looks good at smaller sizes, so that it holds up even when people look you up on their mobile device screen.
- • Once your listing is up and running, ask current and past clients to write an honest review for your business. Positive reviews give you more credibility, which helps sway people your way when they are looking at a range of similar options. After all, just as your business will be listed, so will other similar ones. Differentiation is the name of the game, and positive reviews are one of the strongest hands you can play with.
Once you’re set up on Google Business, a whole realm of other possibilities open up, such as Location Extensions inside Google Adwords (we touch on Extensions later in this article).
2- Make Your Website SEO-Friendly
For many business owners, “SEO” is nothing but a magic wand certain “wizards” wave in the air, and POOF! Their websites are suddenly on the first place of Google.
The truth of the matter is, there is no way to instantly guarantee top billing on competitive search rankings — and anyone who is telling you the contrary is absolutely lying.
At the same time, often-ignored best practices to position your website at the front of the line do exist, and they can help as you compete for valuable search terms. The more you follow these best practices, the more you raise the probability of being found organically… Which at the end of the day, is what matters the most, right?
Some of the most essential best practices we’ve been following are:
- • Ensure that your site’s main landing pages have your primary keywords in your Title tag, H1 and H2 tags, image Alt tags, and sprinkled around your website copy.
- • While you don’t want to fall into the mistake of “keyword stuffing” (i.e., placing your keywords at the beginning and end of each sentence), you do want to make sure you have it in your body copy a sufficient number of times (4 – 6 should be more than enough).
- • An alternative to repeating the keywords as-is beyond what we’ve found above, is to use semantically-similar keywords. For example, a “lawyer” can also be a “legal counselor,” “advisor in law practice,” etc. Believe it or not, Google is nowadays smart enough to pick up on these variances, and understand that they refer to the same fundamental idea.
- • Structure your site in a logical manner. We recommend you place sub-topics under the main topics, and so on. For example, if your business has a separate page for each of the services you offer, you should place them under your “Services” page in your site’s hierarchy.
- • Add links on your pages to other pages on your website, and if possible, to external sites as well. You show Google you have a great website by demonstrating how it is a part of a healthy and credible world-wide network.
- • Compress your images properly for fast-loading. Whether to score big on Google’s PageSpeed Insights, or to give visitors a pleasant experience so they decide to land and stay, it is just a good idea to make your images — which are quite possible the largest assets to load from your site, in terms of file size — as small as possible, without degrading their quality.
- • Ensure you are fully set up on Google Search Console, a tool to ping Google to index your site, check its “search health,” among other helpful actions. Search Console can be an intimidating beast! At our workshops, we help our attendees take the most important actions; however, if you take the time to learn it, you can manage the most critical tasks.
These are but a few steps you can take immediately to improve your site’s “search-ability,” but there are many, many more. However, as most businesses often neglect these basic ones, by just applying these you’ll likely be much more attractive than your competitors in Google’s OOO-shaped eyes.
3- Say The Words… AdWords!
Oh, so you thought this article was about SEO, huh?
The truth is that, at the very core, Google Search is one of the most powerful advertising platforms today, and there are no signs of it dying down any time soon. With searches firing in at all times from Google.com, as well as directly from tools within browsers, by voice commands, and many others, Google has placed their massive search engine so readily-available that placing your ad on it just might be more effective in the short-term than that neighborhood flyer or community rag.
You can get set your business up today on Google’s own advertising network,Google AdWords. This platform will not only allow you to place Search Ads, but also Display Ads (what people commonly refer to as “banner ads”), Video Ads, and more.
You can certainly feel free to thumb around for free, but here’s an honest word of caution: You need to be very sure you know what you’re doing before you deploy any campaign. Google does not offer 30-day refunds — or for that matter any kind of refunds — on the thousands of dollars you might blow in a matter of minutes due to a wrong setting or two. They assume you know what you’re doing… So do you?
Aside from seeking advice from professionals (and we’re here to help, just in case), here are a few quick tips you should consider before you dip your toes into Google AdWords.
- • Figure out what we at YMMY call your “Four Magic Numbers” before you invest in any type of advertising: your Average Lifetime Customer Value (ALCV), your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), your Monthly Revenue Goal, and your Ideal Ad Budget, which you can easily generate after figuring out the first three. Most businesses that completely fail in their investment on Digital Advertising haven’t even heard about these numbers.
- • Do not bid for every keyword imaginable. A small number of highly relevant keywords is much better than a large number of irrelevant ones.
- • In the same vein, a large number of clicks from cheap irrelevant keywords will never be as good as a few highly valuable clicks from relevant searches. Therefore, don’t fool yourself into thinking that grabbing the “low-hanging fruit” (i.e., cheap clicks nobody is bidding for) is ever a good strategy.
- • Max out your Extensions, add as many as you can. These are additional information hanging right below your search listing, which not only provide more information about your business, but also make your listing look better and more professional as it appears in the higher positions on the Search result pages.
- • Make sure your Geographic targeting is accurate. You don’t want to be getting clicks from locations that your business doesn’t serve.
- • The effectiveness of AdWords is only in part tied to what happens in your campaigns. The other half is completely dependent on how good your landing is — by this, we’re referring to the site that users are directed towards once they click on your ads. The headline, copy, visuals, and calls to action must be absolutely in line with the expectations from people who have clicked on your ad.
These are just a few of the most basic tips to get started. The great thing about AdWords is that is a measurable and effective way to get targeted visitors to see your business right away, without waiting for months and months.
The bad news is… well, that there is a cost involved in order to place your ads. After all, we are talking about paid advertising here. However, this should not be a problem in the very least, provided you have a strategy in place, and are following some of the guidelines we’ve shared.
With all these tools and resources at your reach, there is really no reason why your business shouldn’t be properly set up on the undisputed #1 Search Engine in the world. People are right now using it to search for what you offer. Will they find you?