Did you feel overwhelmed this year by what seemed like a constant barrage of Google updates? You’re not the only one. A series of new guidelines, new dashboards, and new search algorithm updates made it a full-time job to stay on top of Google in 2014. As a business owner with your own hectic schedule, you probably weren’t able to keep up with those changes as much as you would have liked. That’s okay. Prospect Genius is here to highlight the most important points to take away from all of 2014’s changes.
What’s the underlying lesson? As Google continued to refine its search algorithms, and search engine optimization continued to adapt, we were reminded that it’s just as important for your campaign to have a solid foundation as it is for your campaign to evolve with Google’s changes.
Here, we give you some of the actionable insights we gleaned from 2014 so you can have an even stronger campaign through 2015.
Oldies but Goodies
The more things change, the more they stay the same. This year, we saw firsthand that some of the old, tried-and-true ways for business owners to lay the groundwork for a campaign still work. Here are a couple of classic ways you can take initiative and make sure you’re primed for a strong campaign, no matter what updates Google throws your way.
We’ve said it over and over again on this blog, but we can’t say it enough: Customer reviews are a crucial aspect of your online presence. When prospective customers see a significant number of reviews and a positive consensus about your company’s services, they will be exponentially more likely to hire you for a job.
In 2014, we saw many clients experience great success with their SEO campaigns after fortifying them with strong customer reviews. Take a look at a few for yourself:
- Conner & Sons Repair — This Michigan-based appliance repair company has a 4.9 rating (out of 5.0) from 34 reviews on its Google listing. Its first year with PG, this company got approximately 65 calls per month; the second year, it averaged over 100; the third year over 200. In August 2014, it received a whopping 551 calls! That number hasn’t dropped below 300 since.
- Ace Appliance Repair, Inc. — Based in New Jersey, Ace Appliance Repair has a stellar 5.0 rating from 23 reviews! Not surprisingly, these appliance repair pros went from around 75 calls per month last year to 120-160 calls per month this year.
- Jimmy Gusky Heating & Air LLC — This D.C.-metro outfit boasts a 4.6 rating from 14 reviews. That’s a slightly lower number than the two clients above, but this company is already pulling in around 75 calls per month!
While there’s no way to definitively prove that the high number of reviews in these cases caused the high number of leads, we certainly don’t think it’s a coincidence. The takeaway? You should always be asking customers to leave reviews on your Google listing. Your company’s success may depend on it.
SHARE YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS LISTINGS
This is another topic we’ve written about extensively, and it still holds true: Prospect Genius—or any online advertiser, for that matter—needs access to clients’ Google My Business accounts in order to properly optimize and manage them. We need to keep tabs on your local business listing’s performance and update it whenever necessary to remain in compliance with Google’s ever-changing guidelines.
We understand the hesitancy to share log-in information in this day and age, but that’s why Google instituted the Google My Business platform, which allows you to name a manager of your account without requiring that manager to have your password. But if you don’t name Prospect Genius as the manager of your listing, then we’ll have difficulty tracking your campaign performance and making sure all of your online information matches. This could result in conflicting information (something Google will penalize you for) and poor visibility.
As we said in our April 2014 blog post, “Hand Over Your Google+ Local Listing to a Pro“:
If you’re paying for professional online advertising services, it’s wiser to let your money work for you. You’ve made an investment in an online advertising company, so why not facilitate that company’s job to the best of your abilities? Rather than complicating matters by actively interfering with your own listings, you’re better off relinquishing a little control and letting your hired specialist do the work.
You’ve trusted Prospect Genius to perform your online advertising, so let us do the job right.
Today’s Top Hits
So, you’ve laid a strong foundation. Your content is valuable, your online reviews are glowing, and your advertiser has access to your listings. Now, it’s equally important that you make the necessary upgrades in order to adapt to Internet marketing’s ever-evolving landscape. It’s imperative to keep up with Google’s changes, or you’ll get left behind.
In 2014, we were able to examine the latest algorithm updates and determine some of the most significant actions our clients can take to boost their campaign performance going forward. Here are the highlights.
USE PAID ADVERTISING
Paid advertising became even more prevalent in 2014. Pay-per-click, or PPC, is widely recognized as a valuable investment, and it’s even more effective when combined with SEO. (Read more about that here: “Optimize Your Site Before You Bid on AdWords.”) PPC and SEO complement each other, as a site with optimized content will have a higher “Quality Score” and therefore see greater PPC success. Having an optimized site will also allow you to pay less for bids on AdWords. The best way to integrate PPC with your existing Prospect Genius campaign is to upgrade from Core to the Premium package.
In fact, PPC has grown so much in popularity that Pauline Jakober, a leading paid search strategist, recently published a whole article on Search Engine Land dedicated to extolling its benefits. Titled “5 Incredibly Practical Reasons to Do PPC in 2015,” Jakober’s article cites PPC’s consumer-targeting capability and lightning-fast results as top reasons to start using PPC this year.
Paid advertising can be leveraged outside of search engines, too. Many social media platforms, most notably Facebook, offer some form of paid advertising. In Facebook’s case, a business can create sponsored posts, which are posts you pay Facebook to target at a specified demographic. The sponsored post will then appear in the news feeds of individuals within that targeted group. Ultimately, as your posts reach more and more people, you’ll see an increase in your number of Page “Likes.”
PUBLISH MORE CONTENT
These days, Google’s algorithms favor websites that have a continuous flow of fresh content. The way Google sees it, the more up-to-date content is for its users, the better. This doesn’t mean you have to add a new page to your site every week; it just means you have to make updates every once in a while.
The best and easiest way to do that is to add a few short blog posts every month. (Every Prospect Genius LeadTrax™ site comes equipped with a fully functional blog you can update at will.) Posts don’t have to be lengthy or detailed—they just have to show prospective customers that you care about them and that you’re passionate about your work. You can recount a recent job so prospects can get a glimpse at what your process looks like, or you can give a few handy tips to homeowners. An updated blog will show off your knowledge about your trade, and it will boost your site’s SEO value to boot.
TARGET YOUR CONTENT
Specificity has become hugely important with the latest search algorithm updates. To use this to your advantage, try adding a couple of pages to your LeadTrax site that are specific to one brand or product. This way, you can capture targeted searches for things like Maytag appliance repair, Trane furnace repair, and so on.
Your Participation Is Key
Prioritizing user experience, Google constantly seeks to improve the quality of its search results. That means Prospect Genius has to make a continuous effort to elevate the perceived (and actual) value of our clients’ websites. But while we’re hard at work on your site, it’s just as important for you to do your part. Take initiative.
- Make a concerted effort to get more reviews from your customers.
- Give us access to your Google (and Facebook) listing.
- Let us display your address on Google+ Local.
- Write your own blog posts.
- Add more specific pages to your LeadTrax site.
No matter how many updates Google makes to its guidelines and search algorithms, there’s one thing we’ve learned that will never change: When you take an active role in your campaign, the results will grow exponentially.
Here’s to a prosperous 2015!