I’ve worked with a lot of small business owners who are really great at one thing: running their business. While that is obviously important, the scary reality is that many business owners are not marketing people. Without the skill of being able to drive people in the door, it can be tough…especially for startups or during a slow time of year. In this blog post I am going to address what you need to know if you are thinking about focusing your marketing efforts on Google’s search engine.
There Are Two Paths
If you want to market your business with Google, there’s two different options you can pursue. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google’s paid advertising program, Google Ads. Each have their pros and cons I detail in this comparison post.
The short version is that SEO is very affordable, sometimes even free. Search Engine Optimization has an insane ROI and the content you create today continues to pay off over a long period of time (sometimes even years.)
Google Ads costs a lot of money to get profitable, but has predictability whereas SEO does not. If your campaign produces profit you can estimate exactly how much you will put in and get back. Unlike with Search Engine Optimization, you can control how much traffic you get with paid advertising.
Pick One & Focus On It
You don’t want to spread yourself too thin in the beginning. While it is ideal to use a mixture of SEO and paid advertising, if you’re just starting out that can be overwhelming. I suggest starting only focusing on one thing until you have a good grip on it. Then, if budget permits, I would start advertising with Google Ads secondly after your SEO is doing decent for your business.
Since my specialty is SEO, and this blog is about it, the rest of this post is going to be focusing solely on Search Engine Optimization for the most part.
You Have To Play By Google’s Rules
Regardless of what avenue you choose, Google makes the rules at the end of the day. You have to follow guidelines and rules if you plan on using Google Ads, and if you don’t follow their optimizations they recommend in the dashboard you are going to end up paying more for ads.
With SEO, if you try to cheat the system you will inevitably lose. I see a lot of marketers try to outsmart Google with “blackhat SEO.” This is a really bad move, as Google is very good at picking up on this kind of stuff.
The real way to do Search Engine Optimization properly and effectively is by creating high quality content. Focus on helping prospects or the community that makes up your target market, and answer the questions they are searching for. Do this consistently over a long period of time and you will win with SEO.
Proper Marketing Takes A Real Investment
If you want to get long term, sustainable results, you need to understand it’s going to require a decent investment of either time or money. In the beginning you aren’t going to know what content people want in your market, or the kind of ads that get them to click and buy. This takes persistence, a commitment to gathering information, and the desire to succeed.
Even if you are outsourcing, it takes a while for Google Ad’s algorithm to gather the data it needs to optimize your campaigns. SEO takes 6 months to a year on average to begin seeing a decent amount of traffic coming to your website. You have to show Google you are an authority in your space.
The good news is once you develop an understanding of this, a snowball effect often follows.
SEO Only Takes 1 Hour A Day
Once you get your website fully optimized and you are in the content stage, it only takes 30 minutes to an hour to write a great blog post that does well in Google. I know it can seem intimidating in the beginning, but once you do it consistently it becomes habit and a breeze. This very blog post you are reading right now took me around 30 minutes to write and publish, and is now an asset I can use in all my marketing and that drives traffic into my website automatically.
In the beginning it will take longer since you have to optimize everything and make sure all of your bases are covered, but the good news is that is only a one time thing.
You Have To Create Content
Search Engine Optimization is really all about creating content. This is something I see a lot of people don’t have a grasp on. If you want to be an authority in your niche, so Google ranks you high, you need to spend the time serving your prospects and customers with blog posts. These need to be pieces of content just like the one you are reading right now – that answer questions they are searching for and bring them into your website.
Google Maps Is A Must
When it comes to local SEO, the search results are broken down into 2 categories.
1. Organic Search
Organic search is your typical Google results you are used to seeing. There is a heading, a description, and slug/URL. You can optimize your website to show up here by doing standard SEO.
2. Maps Pack
Google Maps is HUGE for local SEO. When it comes to local searches for a service, product, or business 99% of the time the Maps Pack now shows up above the organic results. You need to claim your free Google My Business listing to ensure you show up in the Maps Pack. Most likely, your prospects are typing in search phrases along the lines of “pizza near me” or “[service/product] near me.” It’s crucial you show up for these searches if you want to generate a decent amount of sales with Google.
You Can Dominate Both
If you play the right cards, you can absolutely show up #1 in both Google Maps and the organic results as well. It comes down to optimizing for both local and organic.
Here is a rough checklist to follow if you want to rank in both:
1. Fill out and optimize your Google My Business listing completely
2. Create and publish 3-5 pieces of content per week on your website
3. Gather reviews on Google My Business
4. Submit your business to all the major citations and directories
5. Make sure your website is fully mobile optimized
6. Put your phone number in the upper right on your website to generate the most calls
If you follow this checklist you will already have a massive advantage compared to 99% of the competition. If you want to learn how to do this, I cover every one of these steps in Local SEO Shuriken, my A – Z course that walks you through every step of the SEO process in a simple, easy to understand way.
Your Huge Advantage
What most people don’t realize is that if you’re in a non tech-savvy niche, most likely your competition doesn’t know how to do proper SEO. This is a huge advantage and I have seen countless local businesses skyrocket to the top of search simply because their competitors had little to no SEO done on their websites. Make sure to do an Incognito search and take a look at their websites and Google My Business listings.
Most small business owners don’t understand any of this, and just by reading this post puts you in a much better position to succeed. Remember that marketing takes focus, time, knowledge, and practice to get results with. Google is an awesome platform with a ton of advantages to market your business, but it takes accumulated knowledge to succeed with it.
If you want to learn more about SEO, I recommend checking my courses. They go in depth from step A to Z covering everything you need to know to get results with search.