Getting Up To Speed With Google
Are you trying to increase your revenue? How about attract more customers? Boost your brand recognition? Rise above your competition? Believe it or not, Google can help you with all of these goals. All you need to do is get your business up to speed with them.
How can Google Help?
Google is the world's most popular internet search engine. Its usage statistics are eye-popping, with roughly 4.5 BILLION Google searches happening every day (about 63,000 per second). If you want a shock, try visiting internetlivestats.com, and watch as the number of Google searches that day increase in real time. Google also controls the majority of the search engine market by a landslide— 79% of all desktop searches and 92% of all mobile and tablet searches are made using Google, leaving all of the other search engines to fight over the remaining internet users (NetMarketShare).
Since so many people use Google for their online searches, it has a tremendous amount of influence over online content visibility. And THIS is where businesses come in— Google ranks your online business content (your business listing, website, social media pages, and other information) based on how helpful it is to their searchers. If it's more helpful, then you'll be more easily seen by the people searching Google. Is your business listing detailed and verified? Is your website optimized and secure? Do you publish new content regularly? If the answer is 'yes' to these questions and the others that Google asks, then they will rank your business content higher.
It's important to note that Google also organizes search results based on relevance and distance from the searcher, so we can't always control how visible our content is in that respect. But, we can boost our content's visibility IMMENSELY, in every situation, by building our overall web presence the right way. The more our business's information is out there, increasing our recognition and trust with searchers and Google alike, the higher our rank will be. And, the more visible our business will be to the millions of daily Google searchers.
Getting Your Web Presence Up to Speed
1. Have a Detailed Business Listing
Your first step in getting up to speed with Google is having a detailed business listing on Google My Business. To get on Google My Business, you'll need to register and provide Google with as much detailed business information as possible. Once your listing is finished and verified by Google, your 'pin' will be visible on Google Maps, and you'll be available in local search results whenever someone searches for your type of business. The more detailed your business listing is, the higher your business will be ranked in Google's search results. As your business gains even more recognition and trust over time, you will continue to be ranked higher and higher. That's how Google works— the more helpful and informative content is for their users, the more Google wants to promote that content!
2. Take Control of your Business Listing
It may be that your business already appears in the local search results (on Google Maps and/or on the right-hand side of the screen in a regular search) even though you haven't actually created a listing for your business. If there's no verified business listing (meaning that no one has registered the business on Google My Business), then Google sometimes turns to other sources for information about that entity. They'll look at: your website (if you have one), Google users' contributions (from their reviews, problem reports, photos, etc), and data from third-party sources (your social media profiles, other online directories you're listed on, etc).
It's handy that Google creates its own listings for unverified businesses, but there's a big problem that comes with it— ALL of the information made public to searchers is UNVERIFIED by the business owner. This means that any public information about your business can be incorrect, there's no guarantee of recent changes being made available to the public, and ANYONE can contribute to your business, meaning people can suggest incorrect or even negative information about your business to Google, and Google can't verify it with you. Nothing is guaranteed to be correct unless you register your business and claim ownership of it with Google. Anyway, your business listing will be ranked higher if it's verified.
3. Have a Business Website
Your next step in having a VIP business on Google is to have a functional, up-to-date business website. First, Google trusts websites more (and ranks them higher) if those websites aren't broken, insecure, or outdated. Second, Google scans (or 'crawls') your website every so often to index your content, so that it has a record of information about your business— if you have an About section, a Contact section, and a Services section on your website, then Google will be able to learn all of that information. They'll then use that to help rank your website AND your business listing for search. Remember, they want to help their users— the more information they have about your business, the more it's likely to help those searching for your type of services.
Keeping your business information consistent throughout all of your web presences is VITAL, as it promotes TRUST. If you go against your word in any situation, you come off as less trustworthy, right? The same is true for the Web, and there is a huge mass of people you'd be basically lying to if you have conflicting business information across your website, your business listing, your social media pages, and anywhere else your business is present online. If Google finds conflicting information about your business in various places online, it will view your business as a less trustworthy option, and your rankings will be lower in search results.
4. Have an OPTIMAL Business Website
Finally, your last step in being at the top of Google's long results list is to make your business website amazing in every way. This includes:
• Optimizing your website for search engines (having the correct site architecture, using proper redirects, employing on-page and off-page SEO, using keywords, metadata, and sitemaps, etc)
• Optimizing your website's performance (making sure your website loads quickly every time regardless of traffic or circumstance and optimizing your server performance and hosting environment)
• Optimizing your website's security (having an SSL certificate for encrypting user traffic, searching for any 'backdoors' and closing them, installing security updates regularly, and updating your passwords frequently)
• And finally, having regularly published content (having an active blog or news section, publishing articles, interviews, videos, and/or other educational content consistently)
Not sure what content to write? Try writing educational posts and articles about your industry and what your business does. You don't want to blatantly advertise in your content streams— that's what your Services page is for. Instead, use content streams to EDUCATE your readers. Talk about how you handle your services, how your services work, provide case-study examples, or talk about how you're unique to your industry. Just don't try to sell your readers anything at the same time. Remember, educational only!
All of these aspects together will boost your business's online trust and visibility like nothing else. Google prefers optimized and safe websites with regularly published content, and they rank those websites higher. Not only that, but they have more information to work with, and 'more information' means 'more helpful to the user'. With constant new content and tools like metadata and sitemaps, they'll have all the information they need from you, and they'll use it to better their search results. This means that more people will see your website, your listing, and your other presences, but more importantly, they'll keep coming back to them— your user trust and loyalty will skyrocket and continue to build. This leads to more positive reviews, more word-of-mouth and and grassroots advertising on social media, and, consequently, more traffic.
These are our four steps to getting up to speed with Google, but you can always go further for even better results. As always, the more detailed and HELPFUL content you have, the better your results will be. These can include extra content like FAQ sections, portals for users, employees, or eCommerce, visual tools for understanding your services, calculators for any type of measurement or finances you typically deal with...
Ask yourself, what would be awesome for my visitors and customers? How can I reward people for coming to my website? How can I teach them more about my business AND make it fun and engaging? The sky's the limit! Everyone likes unique content and tools, and if you employ something truly unique and helpful, then you'll be marked by both Google and your users as a business to keep their eye on.