Most of us know Google as a search engine. And pretty much every small business out there uses some form of Google products in their day-to-day procedures – Gmail, Google Maps, Adwords, Google Drive, and Chrome are just a few. But when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that Google also has a treasure trove of lesser-known free and paid tools designed to grow your small business.
As a small business, you should be taking advantage of anything and everything that can boost your local presence and make you more visible to your audience online. From tracking site traffic and improving your SEO to running pay-per-click campaigns and making your website more user friendly, these Google tools for business can help you level up your local presence.
1. Google My Business
Google My Business produces the listing that shows up for your business when potential customers search for related terms in Google Search or Google Maps. Google includes what it knows about your business by default, including your address, phone number, and any online consumer reviews it can find. But you’re not at Google’s mercy – you can take ownership of your listing by submitting your own information and soliciting your own reviews.
The more complete, updated, and accurate your Google My Business listing is, the more visibility your business has on Google. It also allows you to engage directly with your customers on Google and gives them multiple ways to contact you with buttons and links to call, get directions, send a message, book an appointment, or visit your website. You can also post updates about future events and promote specials. Get creative and use tactics that would attract the kind of customers who are seeking your services!
But despite all these benefits, 56% of local businesses still have not claimed their Google My Business listing. Claiming your listing is a free and simple process. After you claim and verify your listing, ensure that it is accurate and fully filled out. After that, some best practices for Google My Business are:
Make consistent updates
- Upload 5 new photos each week
- Publish a new Google Post each week
- Get 3 new reviews each month
2. Google Ads
This is one of the better known Google tools for business. Formerly known as Google Adwords, Google Ads is an advertising platform that allows you to target your ideal customers and place ads at the top of their search results across all of Google Search and Maps as well as on websites that are a part of Google’s network.
Here’s how it works: You bid on the keywords that customers are using to find your business – or businesses like yours. Then, when people search for those terms, your ads (which have been tagged with those keywords) appear in their search results. If the customer clicks on the ad and goes to your website, you are charged the amount of your bid. If they don’t click, you don’t pay. Your ad will be shown until your entire bid budget for the day is used.
There are several types of ads you can create and run through the Google Ads platform, and they all serve different purposes. We could write an entire e-book on how to best utilize each of these ad formats, but here we’ve condensed them down to the simplest explanation possible:
- Local Services Ads – allow you to appear first on any given search results page on Google Search.
- Search Ads – help your business get found toward the top of Google Search.
- Display Ads – help your business get found by people browsing online, YouTube, Gmail, and mobile devices.
- Remarketing – after customers visit your website, Google “follows” them to other websites in the Google network and shows them ads for your website on those pages.
The price for any given keyword varies depending on how competitive and popular it is. But you can get started with Google Ads for as little as $1 per day. Google itself has said, “For every $1 spent on Google Ads, businesses earn an average revenue of $2.”
3. Google Reviews
Google Reviews allow consumers to share their experience with your business and provide valuable information for you and your customers. Google Reviews shows up next to your Google My Business listing in Maps and Search. Aside from the obvious impact that reviews can have on your business, Google Reviews work to increase your online visibility by:
Collecting and showcasing backlinks from high domain authority sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. The more popular and trustworthy a site is (think big-name sites like CNN, Consumer Reports, Angie’s List, etc.) the more authority Google grants it. For Google rankings, it’s better to have one backlink on a trusted site than 50 on sites no one has ever heard of.
The more frequently you get new reviews, the more recent your online presence is. Google always promotes new high-quality content over older high-quality content.
Feedback from customers provides a great deal of information that helps inform others about your business. Google’s main aim is to provide searchers with accurate, meaningful information in as few clicks as possible. Reviews accomplish that goal and thus are ranked highly in your overall Google score.
Each review posted online about your business acts as a location signal from the reviewer, helping Google to recognize all the areas you service and ranking you accordingly. This helps to boost your local results, so encourage customers across all service areas to review!
The best practices we recommend for small businesses attempting to leverage Google Reviews are as follows:
- Verify your business so your information is eligible to appear on Maps, Search, and other Google services. Only verified businesses can respond to reviews.
- Get three new reviews each month.
- Respond to any negative reviews ASAP.
- Remind your customers to leave reviews – let them know that it’s quick and easy.
- Reply to reviews to build your customers’ trust. Your customers will notice that your business values their input, and possibly leave more reviews in the future.
4. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is one of the lesser-known Google tools for business and digital marketing. The Google Search Console measures your website traffic and performance and also identifies and fixes issues found across your website. This tool helps to clean up your online presence and boost your local rankings in a few ways.
Firstly, implementing the recommended optimizations improves your search rankings. Secondly, submitting your website’s sitemap helps Google identify and understand the content of your website and determine rank accordingly. To take full advantage of Google Search Console just follow these simple best practices:
- Submit your sitemap to Google
- Check-in monthly to see which optimizations are recommended
- Resolve any site errors found
5. Google Page Speed
Google Page Speed is another extremely useful but underutilized tool in Google’s toolbelt. It works by measuring how fast your website loads across all devices. It analyzes the content of your web pages and then generates suggestions to make your website pages faster.
This helps to boost your search engine rankings because Google deprioritizes sites that take too long to load, no matter how relevant the content may be. This is because searchers tend to bounce from sites that don’t load quickly enough. In fact, 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
To best utilize Google Page Speed, use the following steps:
- Run a speed test on your website
- Pick a handful of recommendations and implement them according to priority
- Consider using software to automate the process
6. Google Trends
From a 30,000 ft overview, Google Trends shows you what people are searching for online all over the world. In and of itself, this tool cannot change how you operate. Much like Google Analytics, you have to synthesize the data you find and make changes to your site, ads, and digital marketing strategy accordingly.
Google Trends will tell you how frequently a search term is entered into Google’s search engine over a given period of time. You can use these insights in the creation of your content strategy to ensure that highly relevant content is being shared across your online presence to boost visibility. Additionally, the location analysis portion of the report can help you refine your messaging to appeal to specific customer needs in specific locations. When you tailor your approach, your conversion time can shorten significantly.
Here are a few examples of how our most successful clients use Google Trends to their advantage:
- Check to see which search terms are most popular and used in your local area
- Brainstorm content topics around search terms you know your customers are searching for
- Create an FAQ page on your website that incorporates popular search terms
7. Google Assistant
This tool is Google’s voice assistant (similar to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri) that helps people find information faster and more easily than they can by using the Google search bar on their phone or laptop. All you have to do is say “Hey, Google…” near an enabled device and then voice your request.
Because people use their voice to activate this function rather than typing their searches, the keywords are a little different. They become more conversational, a little less formal, and longer. In fact, according to Google, 70% of requests to the Google Assistant are conversational in nature rather than keyword based.
As voice recognition becomes more and more popular, it’s important that your online presence is optimized for it. 90% of your voice search readiness score is determined by Google,
Yelp, and Bing. This means if you don’t start optimizing for voice search now, you’re going to be starting from scratch in a few years as the technology improves and becomes more accessible.
Here are a few best practices for optimizing your online presence for Google Assistant:
- Write conversational, vernacular content that sounds like how your customers speak
- Add location schema and structured data on your website
- Claim your business on Google, Bing, and Yelp
- Create an FAQ page with short, conversational answers
- Add location signals to your content
- Maintain an active online presence – recent, relevant, prominent, proximal
Leverage Google’s Tools with an All-In-One Local Marketing Platform
For more information on the best Google tools for business and how they can help your business, contact Surefire Local. Surefire Local is a local marketing platform that pulls all of the digital marketing tools you use for your small business into one convenient dashboard. Solicit and respond to reviews, check your analytics and search console data, manage your directory listings, and create unique content – all in one place!