Fresh off of a visit to Local University Advanced in Austin last week, I want to touch on the latest trends in digital marketing. Though this is based in the local world, it leaks over into all of search as we move from keywords to entity search for all types of interaction with the internet of things. Mike Blumenthal and the folks at Get Five Stars have been talking about Google as the new homepage for at least a year now, but it is really hitting home these days. Google aims to keep the user within Google more and more and offers more and more opportunities through snippets and business pages to keep that interaction right at the top Google level, without even needing to go to your website.
That not only makes measuring success more and more difficult, it presents you with the challenge of needing to interact with your customers right from that top “presentation layer” of the internet as Cindy Krum puts it. Google has been expanding its offerings for businesses at a rapid pace and getting better at understanding things that have been there forever but are also very important, like reviews.
Below I will touch on a few of the ways you can now interact with customers directly within Google, and should. These are all indexed factors and help determine when and if you show up in searches, just as your site content does.
Reviews are increasingly important and I have been saying for years that they would end up becoming the new links. Links will always have their value, but reviews are a true sense of how users look at your business, and Google has gotten much better at associating your reviews as an entity to your website and your business as entities. They can easily become a factor in your ranking and do already. It is important to “bake” asking for reviews into your business process. Just last week Google came out with rules saying you can’t try to filter reviews from only your happy customers, so the best fight against that is to get as many as you can and do a good job. The negative ones won’t sting so much if you are actively getting those positive reviews.
Google recently allowed business to put posts on their business page. These are a short piece of content combined with a link or call to action. Early data has shown that the posts can help push a site up in searches related to that post, and that simply doing posts consistently can push you up in general local searches. Posts expire in a week so you need a plan to keep them coming.
Another way to interact with your potential prospects is through Q&A directly on your business pages. Google has been offering this for several months now and many business owners aren’t even aware that there are unanswered questions about their business on their page. Worse yet, anyone can answer these questions, not just the business, so it is important to be on top of them and answer in a way where you can help control the conversation. It wouldn’t hurt to put some of your FAQ’s out there to get started.
Services and Business Description
Google has also recently allowed business owners to list services. Again, we are still learning how much each of these are indexed and play into your rankings, but it is safe to say that Google sees everything, and if they are giving you an opportunity to share more information about your business, you should take them up on it. Be thorough and try to cover as many different services as you offer.
Google still sees site content and studies have shown rankings changes just from changing content on the site that your business listing points to. This just underlines the fact that our business is an entity and Google knows how to put together the pieces of the entity puzzle including all of the above and more. If you don’t have a plan to attend to all of these factors, you are missing out. We offer support for this type of thing. At least make sure all of your bases are covered and you aren’t missing opportunities to get found.