This blog was first posted in ‘The Meeting Room
’, a blog dedicated to supporting small businesses.
Zeald contribute to The Meeting Room regularly as guest bloggers.
When looking at online marketing for your business, it’s hard to get past the online behemoth that is Google. With over 40,000 Google searches happening every second, it's easy to understand how even a minimal investment in the various Google platforms can still yield good results. If you are just starting out with an online business or are considering some form of digital marketing for your physical store, here are three things you should get onto ASAP.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation, aka The quest to be at the top of Google Search results. SEO is all about your website visibility and making sure potential customers can find you online. To achieve better search results, you need to gain an in-depth understanding of how search engines work, and then change your website content and overall online approach to suit.
"But can’t I just pay them off?” Why of course you can! You can give Google money through AdWords (more on that later) in an attempt to list your website right at the very top of the search results. They will, however, inform everybody that you’ve done so by tagging it as an advertisement. You’ll also be competing with many other advertisers doing the same thing, which can get expensive.
Also, some consumers have an inherent distrust of advertisements as well, so unpaid (organic) search results tend to get better results. SEO focusses on improving the chances of being featured as an organic search result by investing time in your website.
There are too many aspects to SEO than we have room to list, but here are a few that you can implement yourself with minimal time and effort.
SEO starts with your website, so a basic knowledge of website elements and how to edit them is required. Firstly, make sure your title tag and meta description are set up correctly; as you’d like them to appear in search results. The title tag is the main hyperlink that will show up in the search result, so should have your company name at the start, and then a few keywords about your product/s. The meta description is the small blurb below the title, which should include one or two sentences to further attract users to your website by clicking your link. For example, this is what Zeald’s looks like:
Unfortunately, we can’t explain how to do this on your website specifically, as it is a slightly different process depending on which platform you use. However, Zeald works with a range of platforms so we can help you manage your SEO if you need some expert help.
Labelling and tagging website elements correctly will help search engines understand if your site has the content that a user is after. If your site sells shoes, for example, you want to make sure that your product images are titled appropriately. An image called ‘DSC_0003.jpg’ isn’t going to do you any SEO favours. Re-naming your image ‘gucci_red_loafer’ will help anyone searching using those keywords to find your product.
Link building is another simple way to enhance your SEO. Google’s algorithm loves websites that everyone else loves too. If other sites link to your website, it builds the credibility of your operation and, in turn, your chances of appearing close to the top of search results. You can apply this internally as well. Linking to other pages within your website will help search engines get a better picture of your content.
Keywords are what a user types into Google to find the product or service they are after, so they are vital to SEO. There are many tools available to help you think of keywords related to your product, such as?. Use these keywords in as many places as possible on your website, but make sure they are always relevant to the content. Whatever you do, don’t go listing hundreds of keywords all in one place in an attempt to fool a search engine into giving you a high ranking. They’re smarter than that.
2. Google My Business
Listing your business on Google is a must for SEO. Have you noticed that when you perform a Google Search for a business, or a search in Google Maps, that often it will pop up on the side and have all its contact information listed? If you can’t recall, it looks like this:
If you want your business to display like this (which you do), then you’ll need to sign up for Google My Business. It’s free, so unless you hate running a successful business, you should be registering right now. If you need further convincing, here is a brief overview of the product features:
- Google My Business puts your business info on Search, Maps and Google+
Your customers can find you, no matter what device they're using. It gives customers the right info at the right time including driving directions on Maps, hours of operation, and a ‘click to call’ phone number when browsing on a mobile device. Customers and businesses both benefit, as Google works to bring the two together as simply and efficiently as possible. The ease of use builds trust and credibility in your brand. Customers can see you are happy to work with Google, a brand they already use.
- Google My Business incorporates a review system where customers can share their experiences with your company.
If a customer has found your information via Google, then you know they have most likely checked out the competition as well. Google My Business’ review system helps potential customers to make informed decisions when considering your business. Reminding your customers to leave feedback is important, and remember that negative feedback can be turned into a positive if dealt with appropriately. Create an ‘active presence’ on Google by becoming verified, enabling you to respond to reviews.
As mentioned earlier, with the AdWords platform you can pay Google to serve ads to its users. When combined with good SEO, an effective AdWords strategy can mean your business appears twice in Google Search results. A paid advertisement, along with an organic result, both appearing on the first page of Google Search results, is effectively the holy grail of digital marketing. It makes your business very difficult to ignore.
AdWords is relatively quick to set up and usually works on a pay-per-click (PPC) model. With PPC, you pay a small amount every time a user clicks on your ad, rather than a one-time fee to list it. Alternatively, you can pay for impressions, which means you pay whenever your ad is served, no matter how many clicks you get on it.
Much like SEO, and Google in general, AdWords revolves around the use of keywords. After you’ve built your advertisement, you will choose a number of keywords that relate to your product. Then you will place a bid. When a user searches with these keywords, the advertiser with the highest bid has a higher chance of their ad being served.
Again, this is a very simple explanation and, in reality, there are many different factors which determine when your ad is displayed. Things like popularity of keywords, quality of website, location, and historical results all play a part.
To help you tackle AdWords yourself, here are the top three things to consider:
- Broad keywords: You don’t want to appear in every result for a specific keyword.
- Example: A mechanic doesn’t want to appear in searches for ‘rental car’ when using the keyword ‘car’.
- Negative keywords: There are certain words you don’t want your chosen keyword associated with.
- Example: A seafood restaurant doesn’t want to appear in searches for ‘seafood poisoning’ or be grouped with results about the overfishing of our oceans when using the keyword ‘seafood’
- Ad groups: These will help you organise your campaigns. Within each campaign you can separate your ads and keywords into ad groups. You need to have different ads for different keywords. Don’t just show the same ad for every search.
In the first two examples, it would be best to create a central list of keywords that are either negative, or will likely provide unwanted impressions or clicks. This list can then be applied across multiple campaigns. This approach will allow you to better manage negative keywords as you would be able to simply add the identified keyword to your central list, and have the change apply to all campaigns linked to the list.
The range of services that Google offers, and the enormous reach and clout it has, make it the obvious place to start your digital marketing. The cost of such efforts can usually scale to the size of your business, and Google products are very user friendly.
If, however, you are eager to take your business to the next level with Google but are not up for experimenting, remember Zeald is a Premier Google Partner and our Google Certified experts are always happy to help.