Google is Your Friend – Part One
If you’re new to the world of social media and you’ve been following our social media series, waiting with baited breath for our next blog post; you may be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the new information. Or in contrast, you may have taken every piece of advice we’ve given you, got on board with it all and are eagerly anticipating our next post. Well here it is!
This is a big one and is of vital importance if you want your business to rank well on Google; and if you want your business to be successful, you will want to that to happen. You may be wondering if it’s that important, then why it hasn’t really been mentioned in the previous pieces? Well that’s because I’ve been saving a whole post on Google for just the right time. And that time is now!
You’ve learnt the basics, you know which social media networks are for you. You’re using a social media management system and you’re trying hard to post in accordance with the rule of thirds. You’re enjoying interacting with some of your audience but can’t help wishing for a little more engagement. This is where you need to keep Google on your side.
The benefits of Google are something that I haven’t touched upon yet, but really, if you want your business to do well on social media, it’s something you can’t afford not to use. It can be a powerful tool for promoting small businesses online, in more ways than one. Google doesn’t only see your website; it views your business as whole. This is including blog posts and forms of social media. It also takes into consideration how frequently you are updating your account and this affects your Google ranking. Google does so much for small businesses that I’ve had to split this post into 2 parts because there is just so much useful information to share with you.
Target audience: Small businesses owners, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, educators, web publishers, journalists.
As well as boasting an active social network of over 250 million users, Google +’s features can help improve your search engine rankings, strengthen your industry authority and grow your business network. For example, Google Analytics can help you to understand how your audience is engaging and think of more ways to reach them, while Google AdWords can help you to get in front of more of those potential customers. These are just to name a few.
Here are some ways in which Google can help small businesses grow and succeed and how you can get started:
1. Get Your Business Online (GYBO) –
This project is all about helping small businesses create and establish their presence online. Google partnered with 30,000 cities and local organisations to help businesses build a free website, stay on top of Google search results and be seen by customers. There are various free resources that will help your business grow by making more use of the web.
This is your free Google listing. You know that little box-type-thing on the right hand side of Google when you search for a business? Yeah, that! 4 out of 5 people use Google search to find businesses locally and at least half of these people will visit the business on the same day. By listing your business with Google, it gives your clients the right information at the right time. It could be anything from directions to your business, hours of operation or a phone number; Google links Google search, Google maps, your website and contact details to make your information easily accessible to your audience. Complete with Google Reviews, it’s a great way attract new clients and you really can’t afford not to use this free feature.
This feature allows you to create your own website for your business, even from your phone. It is automatically created using the information from your Google listing but you can amend it as necessary. It also automatically updates when you change your listing to save you time. It has a responsive design which adjusts to whatever device you’re using. It allows you to have a custom domain name that reflects your business and its easy design allows you to manage your site on-the-go, so you can make changes simply and quickly.
Google has developed an app called Primer that basically gives out free marketing tips and lessons in the form of bite-sized, 5-minute videos. You can learn some great tips to improve your web presence, through content marketing, media, design, search advertising and much more. Each lesson contains theory slides that users can swipe through, case studies to demonstrate the topic alongside an interactive quiz and practice sessions, where users can test their new skills. This is a great free resource where you can learn a lot in a short space of time.
Google and trusted local partners host free, in-person workshops to share helpful tips, tools and strategies to help the growth of your business.
Google acknowledge that businesses lose half of their visitors whilst their websites are loading, so they provide free testing and advice on how to speed your website up.
Google also support turning your customers into your greatest advocates by creating an artsy printing service to print and share your business’ greatest reviews. Although this feature only seems to available in the US currently.
2. Google +
You’re probably reading this thinking, ‘I’ve already decided on my social media accounts, why do I need any more?’. Google + is a fantastic tool that aids small businesses in increasing their online popularity.
Here are some reasons why:
- It improves your search engine ranking
Here’s a rhetorical question for you: Which company do you think will rank higher in Google’s search results, the one using Google +, Google’s own social media site, or the one only using Facebook? When clients or potential clients search for your company’s name before getting in touch, you want your website to appear right at the top of the search results; and with a Google + account, the likelihood of this is far greater. This helps spread your digital voice more efficiently.
Google + is great for collaborating. It features social tools to ensure the smooth transition of sharing documents, images etc.; enabling productivity at a fraction of the price/time of conventional meetings/video conferences.
- Great free communication skills
Speaking of collaboration, one of the most exciting features of Google + is Google Hangouts which is Google’s video chat tool. It works well for video conferencing, phone calls or texting, making it easy and fun to communicate with your colleagues.
It’s particularly useful for organisations with workers in more than one office, so that they can collaborate in real time, without the time wasting/cost of traveling to meet in a meeting space through screen-sharing. Google + removes the location barrier to communicating.
Google have incorporated customer groups into circles. Most businesses will have a variety of customer groups and sometimes want to communicate separately with each group. Google + allows you to organise clients into these circles separately or with multiple circles at the same time. For example, you may want to send a special discount code out to everyone who has a March birthday, as a gift from your company.
Why pay for focus groups when you can use Google + to get answers to questions or retrieve customer feedback. You could, for example, host an hour-long Q&A session about a new service that you are going to be launching.
Due to being a diverse and participatory tool, Google + helps businesses stay in touch with each other, making it easy to share information and insights into the industry. You can join or create your own communities within most industries.
A little tip: You can make the most of communities that you’re a part of by interacting with the members who post most-often. You can give posts +1 (Google + version of a ‘like’ or ‘favourite’, or comment on some of your favourite pieces of theirs.
This is always important when marketing your business. Social signals (likes, comments and shares) heavily influence the way Google ranks your business. And we can speculate that Google is going to allocate the most SEO weight to its own social media program. Internet researchers have discovered that URLs shared via Google + are crawled and indexed by the search engine almost immediately.
A little tip: Share your blog posts and lead generating content offers regularly!
Google + is full of industry influencers trying to get ahead of the pack, making this the perfect social platform for B2B marketers to exchange ideas and accumulate high quality website traffic.
A little tip: To grow your audience, you need to think like the industry leaders! Demonstrating that you are an innovative and credible expert is important in the B2B world. Stick to a post-publishing schedule – consistency is key.
Google owns YouTube and this illuminates the usefulness of Google +. Its video integration is sleek and user-friendly and this makes it a great outlet for visual enthusiasts (aka just about everyone). Google + enables you to link up your other social media accounts which makes it more of a social networking hub!
A little tip: Articles that contain a graphic receive 94% more total views. Google + provides a large space so make sure your content is accompanied by some great visual media!
You only need to type a keyword or question into the search engine and Google + sorts the results into relevant information. This means that if you need some fresh blog content ideas, or just want to know what other people in your industry are writing about, you know where to look!
A little tip: You can use ‘communities’ for this purpose. These niche pages contain lots of people seek help/tips/suggestions – get involved. You can also use Google + to see who your competitors are following.
Google + has built-in analytics that provides you with feedback on your company’s page performance. It isn’t extensive but you’ll receive data measuring visibility, engagement and audience growth. You can then alter your future posts to ensure they meet the same criteria as your previous successful ones.
A little tip: When you hit 200 followers, you will have access to additional demographic information. Keep networking!
Google + may not be the number one most popular social networking site in the world, but it makes up for this in utility. It would be useful to speak to your clients/similar businesses to find out how they view Google + and how frequently they use the platform. It will help you gauge how much time and effort you should be investing in Google +.