Google is one of the most powerful tools available to small businesses. From social networking to search engine optimization (SEO), the search giant offers a plethora of highly effective free and paid services to help you grow your business. You may already be using some of them, but are you using them correctly? And if you aren't using them, what are you waiting for? Here are four Google mistakes you may be making and why you can't afford to ignore them.
1. You snub Google+.
If you want your business to be found online, it has to be on Google+. It may not be as popular as other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, so many businesses choose to ignore it. But don't make the mistake of underestimating its value as a marketing tool for small businesses.
Google+ embeds your business throughout Googleland by doing things like including your business profile in search results and linking it to other Google services, like Google Maps and Google+ Local. It may not be as exciting or hip as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media marketing channels, but by ignoring Google+, your business is missing out on a chance to boost its Google ranking and get maximum reach on various Google properties. [Want Better Search Rankings? Start with Your Google+ Profile]
Start by claiming your business at google.com/business. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, be sure to select Local Business or Places to indicate your type of establishment. Don't just create your profile and ignore it, though. Small businesses often make the mistake of thinking they'll gain followers automatically, or that all they have to do is create a profile and then don't do anything with it. But just like any other social media marketing efforts, you'll need to invest some time in bringing customers to your profile and participating in communities.
To make the most out of Google+, treat it just as you would your business: The customer always comes first. First, create and share relevant content that resonates best with your target audience. Actively seek out prospects and potential followers, and then get on (and stay on) their radar by adding them to your "Circles" and starting conversations. And don't forget to add a human touch by using visuals and personalizing posts with hashtags and creating eye-catching, highly relatable headlines.
Learn more: Google+ for Small Businesses
2. You ignore your business profile.
From your contact information to location, hours of operation and other details, it's critical that your business information is complete, accurate and consistent across Google+, Google+ Local, Maps and other Google properties. In addition to making information clear for customers and preventing double listings, it will help link the listing wherever it appears on Google and make your business easier to find.
Completing your profile also makes your business more attractive because it gives customers a better idea of what it has to offer. For instance, many businesses skip the summary section on Google+ and Google+ Local, or offer very little information about their business, but doing so is a missed opportunity to draw in customers. Stand out by crafting a welcoming note that reflects your business. And don't forget to add plenty of inviting photos to help customers get a feel for what your business is all about.
3. You overlook AdWords tools.
Are you thinking about using search engine marketing to get the word out about your business? AdWords is one of the most effective and affordable ways for small businesses to reach millions of potential customers across Google Search and other Google properties — if it's used correctly.
Setting up successful AdWords campaigns entails more than just making a list of keywords from which to launch ad units. Avoid wasting ad dollars by taking advantage of the many tools AdWords has to offer:
- Google Keyword Planner. Discover the most relevant keywords for your business, find out how many people are searching for those terms, and remove negative keywords to prevent associated, but irrelevant, keywords that don't drive traffic to your site.
- Targeting tools. Send the right message at the right time by setting up your ads to show up only to highly targeted audiences. Target everything from geographic locations (for instance, by city, region or based on a 10-mile radius from your business), times and days ads should appear, mobile and desktop devices, Google property and more.
- Multiple ads. Launch more than one ad to see what works, or send a different message to each audience. For example, if you own a coffee shop, launch one ad advertising drinks on your menu and another for teas, packaged coffee and other offerings.
4. You ignore Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is one of the most useful tools a small business can have in its arsenal. One mistake small businesses make, however, is simply looking at how much traffic their website garners when there are dozens of other metrics that offer much deeper insight into a website's performance. Used at its full potential, small businesses can unleash the power of Google Analytics to uncover actionable data to help them make wiser business decisions.
To get the most out of Google Analytics, don't focus solely on traffic numbers, but also explore the many reporting tools in your Analytics dashboard. In particular, check out the following:
- Demographics. Understand visitors better by segmenting data based on age, gender, geographic location, interests and more. Demographic reports can help you find out which customer groups are doing what — and which ones actually convert into sales.
- Behavior. Find out how new and returning visitors are interacting with your website, as well as which pages, types of content and content areas are making the most impact. These reports can help validate and improve your website's design, as well as help you discover which types of content are resonating with your audience.
- Acquisition. How are visitors coming across your website? Are they mostly from search engines? If so, which keywords are driving the most traffic, so you can maximize your SEO efforts? How are your social media marketing, AdWords campaigns and other marketing efforts working? Are they meeting your website traffic goals? Acquisition reports can tell you all of this and more.
Originally published on Business News Daily.