It’s a dog eat dog world
Competition for a fair piece of the Internet market share is fierce. If you’re a business owner, you already know that. And you also know that you need to use every tool at your disposal to give you and your company an edge over your competitors.
Everyone’s heard of Google. We all type our questions and search terms into that ubiquitous little bar dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of times a day. According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes over 40,000 searches a second. That’s more than 3 billion queries answered a day! But, did you know that Google is more than a search engine? The online giant also puts a wide array of marketing tools right at your fingertips — and many of them are free! Some can even generate an income stream.
How to get the goods
Here’s a look at five, must-have marketing tools offered by Google. Don’t miss out on your piece of the pie; take advantage of these tools and watch your business start to grow today.
- Keywords are key – While overusing keywords on your website can actually drive away traffic and even lower you search rankings, used judiciously, keywords are an important way to attract the customers most interested in your products and services. And interest, of course, translates directly into sales. Google AdWords Keyword Planner offers a range of tools which can help you fine-tune your SEO campaign. Google likens Keyword Planner to a workshop for “building new search network campaigns” and for expanding existing ones. Features allow you to search for the keywords and ad group ideas most relevant to your industry and products, view historical search statistics, and even run a simulation to see how well a given list of keywords might be expected to perform. All of this can help you target the ideal keyword set for your business.
- Build a better billboard – Ever hear of Burma-Shave? It was a company from “way back when” famous for its roadside signs. Several silly verses of a goofy jingle were spread out on signs over a dozen roadway miles, always ending with the words “Burma Shave!” Today, as we all race along the Internet highway, the equivalent of Burma Shave signs is Google AdWords. AdWords lets you jump to the head of the line whenever someone does a search for your type of business. Instead of your business being listed on the seventh page after an organic search — where no one will ever find you — your business listing will be placed right at the top of the page. Drivers cruising along the Internet can’t help but see your “sign.” Best of all, AdWords works on a pay-per-click system. You only have to pay when someone is actually intrigued enough by your ad to follow it back to your website. This is especially ideal for local content. Only the people who are looking for a business in your locale will click on your ad, and those are the only views you will actually have to pony up hard, cold cash to pay for.
- Advertise – for free! – Google My Business — which used to go by the name “Google Places” — is a free service that allows you to list your business with Google. Once you’re signed up, your business will appear whenever someone does a local search for that type of business. Your company name will also come up on Google Maps. This means, someone simply looking for the best route to their dentist’s office will see a little pop up on the map describing listed businesses in the area — including yours. Now they will know your donut shop is just around the corner from Dr. Lange’s office and can reward themselves with one of your fresh, tasty donuts after the good doctor proclaims, “No cavities!” Keep in mind that, even though, the listing is free, it’s not automatic. You do have to sign up for the service. But who wouldn’t? The few minutes it takes to claim your listing is certainly worth all the free, local publicity it will generate.
- Track your tactics – Putting new marketing tools to use is one thing, but to make the most of these tools, you need to track their effectiveness. That’s where Google Webmasters comes in. A suite of options, including Webmaster Tools, Webmaster Education, and a help center, Webmasters offers how-to articles and videos for ways you can help customers find your business. It also has quick fixes and clearly articulated answers to any problems you may have with any of Google’s marketing tools and suggestions. Creating a Webmaster account also lets you analyze your search traffic, optimize your SEO strategy and even understand how the visitors you now have actually found your site. Webmaster Tools will also send you alerts if it detects any red flags which suggest that any of your present tactics are somehow lowering your search rankings.
- Find what’s trending – In the “here today, gone tomorrow” world of the Internet, staying on top of what’s trending and what’s passé is vital to the effectiveness of your Internet marketing campaign. If you can’t hack into your 16-year-old’s Twitter feed to see what’s holding ‘tweens in thrall just now, the next best thing is Google Trends. Google Trends offers you ways to see how popular a certain search term is and compare it to its variations. It also allows you to simply take a look at which search term is most popular on any given day. Need even more in depth data? Use the Correlate tool. With it, you can track how specific search terms vary over time (more people search for the term “flu” in the winter, for example), search for the most popular terms state by state, and even search using a line drawing.
With its sometimes devastating algorithm changes — think Panda and Penguin — Google can seem like a business owner’s arch nemesis when it comes to online marketing. But, if you look closely at all of the tools Google has to offer, you might come to see the search-engine giant in a new light. Google may just become your new best friend.