The one thing you can count on about Google is that the rules of the game are constantly changing. Google’s commitment to provide searchers with the purest, most useful results means that they keep changing things to prevent business owners from scamming their system while providing various tools to help people use it.
What was true before may not be true today. There are a few assumptions that you may be making about Google’s Local search that are completely wrong. And, here are a few tips for keeping you from going wrong.
The one thing you can count on about Google is that the rules of the game are constantly changing. Google’s commitment to provide searchers with the purest, most useful results means that they keep changing things to prevent business owners from scamming their system while providing various tools to help people use it. What was true before may not be true today. There are a few assumptions that you may be making about Google’s Local search that are completely wrong. And, here are a few tips for keeping you from going wrong.
1. Some Agency Owners Overlook the power of Google My Business
Perhaps because Google hyped their soon-to-be-scrapped Google+ to compete more directly with Facebook, the advent of Google My Business (GMB) has gotten overlooked to an extent by some agency owners. GMB has many tools and facets that are dramatically helpful to free self-promotion.
In fact, today, GMB is probably the most important part of local Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Agency owners who have not claimed and fully optimized their GMB pages are losing out. It represents the loss of potential clients. It ignores the power that Google provides totally free to describe the business, the areas it serves, the services it offers and how to contact the business while enhancing the message with images and videos. When information is missing or out of date, it diminishes the opportunity to attract new customers.
2. Some Agency Owners Believe that NAP is Enough
NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number, the key elements of being listed online. These are, of course essential, but there is so much more that Google offers to display with your NAP of which many agency owners do not take advantage. They include elements that are important in the effort to attract local clients and beating competitors that are not paying attention (and did not read this letter!).
Many online business listings allow owners to include descriptions, images and offer contact opportunities without the visitor having to leave the listing and click on a website. GMB goes even further by providing a place for informational posts and describing local special events sponsored by the agency.
3. Some Agency Owners May Try to Trick Google
As you might expect, Google has rules. These rules are described as Google Guidelines (see: www.bit.ly/gmb-guidelines). They define the categories under which agencies must describe their businesses. Google will infer services under a category by visiting your website and other similar businesses to further define your sub-categories, but it also gives you the option of doing so to the extent that their pre-defined descriptions fit your business.
A suggestion from Google’s guidelines: “Select categories that complete the statement: ‘This business is a … ‘ rather than ‘this business has a… .’ The goal is to describe your business holistically rather than a list of all the services it offers, products it sells, or amenities it features.”
Attempting to break this or any other Google guidelines could result in Google suspending the listing. And, the penalty is not just lowering your Google ranking, it is a total suspension altogether until the issue is resolved.
4. Some Agency Owners Think Mastering Google is Enough
While Google does garner over 70 percent of all online searches, you cannot ignore the dozens of other sites that can mention your agency online. Simply stated, you want as many citations as possible. A citation is a mention of your business in an online directory. The listings usually include the NAP and often the business’ URL. The greater number of “clean” citations that an agency has, the more chances it has of reaching potential clients in the geographic area that it serves.
To quickly check the number and accuracy of your agency’s listing on a variety of these sites you can run a free report at www.bit.ly/checkmysites2019.
Even if your prospective client does not go directly to one of the more obscure sites, your listing may show up in a Google search anyway. The more places your agency is listed, the greater chance you have to be found. Furthermore, the more places that Google discovers your agency mentioned online, the greater authority it has which can result in a higher listing in organic searches.
5. Some Agency Owners Still Do Not Respect the Power of Reviews
Just under 93 percent of consumers use reviews to determine their inclination to use a business. In the recent past, business owners and some consumers became cynical about the number of obviously fake reviews that were being displayed. In fact, some unethical business owners did pay people to post manufactured reviews on their sites, or negative ones on competitors’. But consumers have gotten smarter about spotting fake reviews and many published articles about how to spot them have helped.
It is no longer a question about whether consumers care about reviews. They are quite often predicating their entire decision of whether to call your agency based on them.
Negative reviews, while becoming statistically less frequent than complimentary ones are even more critical. Reviews approached with the sincere objective of addressing the customers’ concerns gives the agency owner the chance to minimize the problem or add information to the dialog that will give future readers more perspective. In fact, a properly addressed negative review can get that review removed by the complainer and has the opportunity to turn the unhappy customer into a positive reference and future customer again.
As regular readers of this letter know, Rowan Reputation Resources has developed special tools specifically designed to solicit Google (and other) reviews face-to-face in client’s homes and over the phone with family members. To learn more click here: www.rowanreputationresources.com/contact-us.
Given the cost of traditional advertising it is truly amazing the number of agency owners who do not take advantage of tools provided by Google and other sites that are absolutely free. The fact that taking advantage of them does not require the power of an overpriced geek should be encouraging. You may access our team of not-overpriced-geeks anytime.