Google Helps Small Businesses
In recent years Google has implemented several major updates to its search algorithm, much to the dismay of many digital marketers and business owners alike. With all the Pandas and Penguins running around people may be lost in the updates or unsure of what to do and where to start. Perhaps you just don’t have the time to keep up with the updates, after-all, you are running a business. There is no need to fret. If you were doing things the right way all along and not using Black Hat SEO methods you are probably already seeing the positive results.
To build on that, In recent years Google has added features that help improve local listings. The problem is many small business owners and entrepreneurs, as well as ill-advised internet marketers, may not know any better. We are going to discuss some of these tools today, and show you that Google really does want you to succeed using their product.
Pandas, Penguins and Updates-Oh My
The primary focus of the changes to Google’s search algorithm is to eliminate web spam. As we discussed in previous posts Matt Cutts’ job is to squash those who use less than ethical methods of improving search results. Some of those methods include:
- Backlinking from irrelevant resources (link farming)
- Keyword Stuffing
- Hidden Content
- Gateway Pages (Fake Pages)
The updates to Google’s search algorithm have made these methods, as well as others, extraneous. What this means is sites that were using these methods as their dominant internet marketing plan have suffered in the Google Search Results. Google has even shut down some of the companies who were selling link farming as a service.
Meanwhile, sites that used methods that Google has always asked website owners to use are now moving up in the search results. As long as you have been and continue to use what Google has always suggested you use then you will move up in search rank. Some of the methods include:
- Develop Original Content
- Effective Keyword Usage using Tags and Markup
- Proper Titles and Descriptions
- Proper Markup (Code)
- Strong Website Structure
The above is obviously not everything to consider but will make for a good foundation and you will be able to build off of these suggestions.
You mentioned tools?
I did as a matter of fact, and Google has a wide variety of tools specifically for local businesses. The obvious tool is Google Analytics but we are going to leave that for another post. Three of the resources I strongly encourage using for local search are:
- Google Places
- Google Authorship
- Google Alerts
Google places allows you to add your business to their local maps search results and track metrics related to those listings. The example below is a computer repair shop in Meriden, CT. If someone searching for Computer Repair shops in the general area (which will default to local results if Google is able to detect where you are located) then this and other local shops show up instead of the big box computer repair chains.
That’s one resource any local business can definitely appreciate. This allows you to have a stronger presence within the search results and if set up properly you will see positive growth in website traffic and sales.
Google Authorship is set up through Google+ (Which you should also set up). Authorship allows you to claim ownership of your original content. This allows you to localize your content and in turn would place you closer to the top of the Google SERP. Google has stated that content developers who have Google Authorship set up will achieve better search results than those who don’t.
That’s two things working for you as a small business owner. That means tying original content and Google Authorship together will help generate more visitors to your site, and if your site is optimized properly those visitors turn into conversions.
Another topic we discussed in a previous post is Google Alerts. Using this free tool you can have alerts sent to your email. The alerts can be whatever you want them to be. We have found that having alerts set up for keywords used on your web presence allows you to see what people are talking about and what the competition is doing.
Imagine having Google do the research for you, all you have to do is read. That’s a powerful utility you cannot afford to pass on, and it doesn’t cost you anything except the few minutes it takes to set up.
The time is now
The time to optimize and improve your web presence is now. Google has made it easier than ever to compete with those who have invested heavily in unethical Search Engine Optimization. Using their resources, most of which are free, and your own original content you can achieve the ROI your business or brand has always looked to gain from using the internet.
Let’s face it, you cannot afford not to use these free resources, or ignore the updates that Google has made to its Algorithm.