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Google Makes it Easier for Small Businesses [To Crush Their Competition]

Google Helps Small Businesses

Google for Local BusinessIt’s true if you read between the lines

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

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.

Google Places TechsRUs

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

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.

Google Plus in Connecticut

 

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.

Google Alerts

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.

 Looking to learn how to implement these and other best practices to improve your local search marketing in CT?  Start by clicking here

5 Reasons You Need to be on Google+ in 2014

Are you missing out on business opportunities?  Could you use more potential clients?  Could your business or project benefit from improved search ranking in Google?  Then you should be on Google+.

 

What is Google+?

Google+ is a social network much like Facebook and Twitter.  It has been around since September 2008 but struggled a lot to compete with Facebook and Twitter.  Initially the only people that joined Google+ were the early adopters, mostly people who are in the technology world.

Recently Google has spent a lot of time and money updating Google+ with new features that can have a major impact on your internet marketing campaign.  Google+ has also seen a lot of growth as more and more people continue to join and use the social media platform.

Google+ has taken the second spot from Twitter in terms of users, only Facebook has more users now.  Google+ can impact your internet marketing strategy more than any of the other social media platforms because Google+ can be tied into Google Search results.

Google+ should be an important part of any marketing plan.  I can say that without hesitation.  To be honest you really cannot afford to not include Google+ at this point as you will read below.   By the time you finish reading this you should see no reason to not have a Google+ profile and will hopefully have another tab open to create your profile.

5 Reasons to Join and Use Google+

Without further adieu here are the reasons you should be on Google+.  This is not an all inclusive list as I am sure others can give you more reasons, but as an internet marketer myself, these are the most important reasons for me and my clients.

1.  Reach.  There are plenty of people who use Google+ exclusively, or as their preferred social network.  But more importantly Google+ now has more users than Twitter.  While I would never suggest passing on Twitter shouldn’t you use the same logic as a reason to use Google+?  If you are trying to reach as many people as possible without spending a ton of money wouldn’t you go where most others go?

  • There are over 44 million people and over 330,000 business pages on Google+
  • There are over 245,000 users in New York
  • There are over 36,000 users in Connecticut

Google+ is still in it’s growing phase and it’s best to get on board now as the population grows.  You can bet others will join and you will have a head start on those people in having followers and being able to use the platform which is constantly evolving.

2. The People.  While there are definitely artists, musicians and actors on Google+ it is not littered with fan pages and profiles dedicated to them.  The majority of Google+ is people who are interested in Networking, and learning from others.  Most of the Google+ users are people who want to share what they have and see what you have to share.   Under the “Looking For” category the second biggest reason is Networking.  That sounds like people who are ready to do business, doesn’t it?

3.  Authorship.  I have blogged about Authorship several times already.   Authorship is the process of telling Google that you are the authority on a topic.  You are taking ownership of content and in doing so Google says they will rank you higher in search results.   Since Google is still king of the search world by a long shot isn’t a good idea to get in their good graces.

Authorship can only be set up through Google+.

 

4.  Current Features.  Current features like Hangouts and Communities offer ways to deliver content in different forums to different audiences.  The content marketing game is one that requires the use of a variety of formats and Google+ offers you avenues to do just that.   Another feature is pages for businesses.

  • Communities allow you to develop groups focused on specific interests.  This gives you the ability to develop a group based on a subject that you are an expert on.  The group is obviously interested in your subject because they joined the group, giving you an audience that is already ready to become a client.
  • Hangouts give you the ability to have group meetings or discussions.  Using Hangouts you can meet with collaborators or a group of potential clients to give them a demonstration.  You can even offer educational seminars about your product or service the same way you might have a seminar for an audience locally, but with a much larger reach potential, and without the cost of a brick and mortar location, and gas.
  • Pages let you set up a profile for your business.  Since there is only 330,000 business listed on Google+ today you won’t have a lot to compete with just yet, but wouldn’t you rather get in front of the pack?

5.  Future Features.  (Say that five times fast).  Google is closing up shop on some of their other tools such as Google Reader and eventually Google Keyword Tool.   This is an educated guess but I would be willing to bet that Google plans on tying all their tools into Google+ at some point.   Little by little Google has added what used to be stand-alone tools to their social media platform.   It has already integrated some of its other features such as maps and local.

What are you waiting for?

Google+ is ripe for new users.  Even though it has experienced rapid growth recently it still has not reached super social media status.  Eventually more users will move to Google+ as they see the positives in joining, and the potential downfall to not joining.  Joining now means getting to know the platform before the masses come on board while giving you the ability to reach out to new audiences with new tools.

Your Thoughts

Did we miss another reason for joining Google+ now?  Let us know in the comments.  Have questions, reach us here!