Let’s face it: you, like everyone else in the world of business and marketing, want your site to become more important in the eyes of the all-mighty Google. There isn’t a magic formula that reveals exactly what search engines are looking for, but in the case of Google, there are plenty of tools you can use to make your site more visible.
A great place to start is to embrace Google+. To many, Google+ seems like a less-used version of Facebook. However, individuals and businesses need to start seeing Google+ for what it really is: a way to control your identity across all of Google’s products. It’s not a social network but a social layer that is integrated across all platforms from Google Places to YouTube. If you have a Google+ profile, it is easier to share and be seen.
Once you have set up a Google+ profile, focus on these other Google products:
It has been projected that mobile search will surpass desktop search in the next few years, but one doesn’t need solid statistics to realize that smartphones are everywhere—and that means your company needs to adapt and prepare for your site to be viewed and searched for on a smaller screen.
First, it is important to prepare your site for mobile search, whether it is with a responsive design or by serving dynamically. If you want people to stay on your site once they find it, you have to give them a site that is easy to view and use.
While designing a mobile version of your site, consider what you want the customer to do. For example, if you want people to be able to call your company, you should add a “click to call” button. Whatever your goal is for the customer, make that action easy to perform on a smaller screen.
Google Maps/Google Places
Here’s a statistic for you: according to Google, 50% of mobile searches are local. People want to find companies within their area, and being on Google Maps is a great way to ensure that you have a presence within your community.
If you have a physical location, add and verify your business using Google Places. Google is in the process of rolling out a new dashboard for Google Places, which is currently available to new or newly verified profiles. Among the changes include easier, faster updates to your Google+ Local page and the ability for service area businesses (without an exact location) to claim a page.
Whether you are working from the old or new platform, you should fill out all of the available categories: contact information, category, hours, photos, etc. You want to include any data that could be helpful to your customer. Think of that data as additional keywords for you as well. If someone is searching specifically for a Chinese restaurant in the area, and you haven’t mentioned that your restaurant sells Chinese food, you won’t be the most relevant (i.e. the top) result.
Google+ Business Page
Along with completing your Google+ Local listing, you will want to complete a Google+ Business page and update it with regular posts.
A main goal of Google+ is to make the Google experience more social and personal for every individual. Therefore, Google will use the data shared on Google+ to give users the information they want while searching or using other applications.
For example, there are +1 buttons on posts and pages within Google+ (and on many websites outside of Google+). If you like a company or a specific post, you can add a +1. This data will factor into your searches based on where you and others in your network have added a +1. If you are looking for a place to eat and 10 of your friends have +1’d a specific restaurant, that restaurant will likely rank higher because of the social influence.
In addition, Google+ pages may be more convenient for targeting a certain audience. You can create different circles for each type of follower, such as “Employees,” “Customers,” etc. That way, you can direct the right content to the right people.
With Google Analytics, the company provides you with a ton of data that will increase your rankings if you know how to use it. It would take an entire article (and then some) to explain all of the things you can do using these analytics, but here is the basic idea: this service will measure sales and conversions, and it will also show you how people are finding your company online and how those people are using the site.
Are you wondering whether you get more traffic organically or from referrals? Do you want to know what countries your visitors live in? What is the percentage of people who actually complete an order? Which pages do people view the most while visiting the site? These are the types of questions that these tools will answer. Google Analytics now does social reports as well to help you navigate the possibly daunting, but very important, world of social media.
Since YouTube was acquired by Google, we have been able to see more video results in the search engine. Therefore, creating an account and uploading videos might be another—and potentially more exciting—way to be visible on Google.
YouTube isn’t just for cat videos: you can find anything from the absurd (Harlem Shake, anyone?) to the genuinely informative. You could record a tutorial on something related to your field or add video from a company event. Something goofy, as long as it’s still appropriate, will humanize your business and its employees. Whatever you choose to capture, make sure to complete and be specific in your title, description, and tags. Just like anything else, those keywords will help people find your video.
And if you needed more incentive to get a Google+ account, Google recently announced that YouTube accounts and channels can be linked to a Google+ page. This will make it easier for users to share video and give people the chance to do live broadcasts using Google Hangouts.
If there is one thing to know about Google, it’s that the company and its products are always growing and changing. If you truly want your brand to be visible, keep up to date with all of Google’s developments. The more involved you are, the better chance you have of someone coming across your business.
Shannon Williams is a team lead for Boostability’s SEO department, specializing in guest blogging and content strategy. She graduated from BYU with a degree in English and Editing, and she’s thrilled to have found a job where she can actually use her writing skills. In her free time, Shannon works on her own novels and watches more movies and TV shows than she cares to admit.
All posts by Shannon Williams