Everything Google for your business

Published on 20 June 2019

Photo of Monte Huebsch and Elize Hattin standing in front of the Turbo Traction Lab banner

All across the world wide web, Google sits securely as the most-visited website in the world, with its associated properties populating a third of the top 100 list. Google plays a role in our everyday life, helping us find information, places, products and more. For the business owner, being able to properly utilise Google can make or break your business. In a recent Hub Live, SmartHub Business Manager Elize Hattin sat down with Google Guru Monte Huebsch, content director for Content2Convert, to learn all he had to share about how to make Google work for your business.

As the top site in the world, Google’s search volume continues to grow, with more people searching via a mobile device than ever before. Search habits are continuing to change as well, with 50% of all searches no longer resulting in being taken away from Google’s page – instead, Google is providing answers directly to the searcher. “I got up this morning and it was eight degrees Celsius, so I asked Google what’s eight degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit and it told me the answer,” Monte explained. “It’s not just a search engine anymore, it’s an answer engine. It gives you an answer.”

Another 12% of Google search traffic goes towards other Google properties, such as Google Maps or YouTube and another 8% goes towards Google Ads, which are the top four ads that appear above the organic search results when Google believes there is purchasing intent. While only 30% of traffic is going to organic results, small businesses can benefit greatly just from using one of Google’s services – Google My Business.

Google My Business

Google My Business is used when someone searches for a service, a shop or a restaurant. These searches will bring up a map with pins and information about the most appropriate local businesses that fit with the search query. Google My Business is free to use, and the results are mostly organic, with the ability to pay to appear in the top result. “Your Google My Business ranking is impacted by a number of things, such as how complete your Google My Business page is. Do you have images? Videos?  Hours of operation? Payment types? But reviews are the most important, especially ones done with Google Reviews,” Monte said. Asking your friends and family to do reviews can improve your ranking.

To make the most of your Google My Business listing, first you’ll need to claim your listing. This will verify you as the owner and allow you to edit and complete the business profile. The verification process involves submitting your address to Google, who will then mail you a postcard with a PIN number which verifies your physical presence in the area of your business. For businesses that are mobile, you can have the card sent to your house and have your address suppressed on your listing. Once your listing is verified, you’ll be able to fill in the details.

With reviews, there’s always the chance for someone to leave something negative about your business, and there’s no way to delete a review unless it violates Google’s policy. Responding to negative reviews is difficult, but Monte’s process turns the situation around. “My strategy is always to sleep on it, so I don’t respond in haste and I come back with a cooler head. I always thank the person for leaving the review. I acknowledge they have a right to leave the review and I ask them to reach out so we can resolve this issue and turn their experience into a positive one.

But on more than one occasion I’ve said, “So let me get this straight. If I was doing business with your company, and I had a disagreement with the service or the product, you would rather me leave a negative 
review on social media, than to call you and try to get it fixed?” And what happens is everyone piles on. People who know me come on and say things like, “Monte gave you his mobile number, you’ve got his email address. Why didn’t you ring him up and get the problem solved? Now you’ve gone and said nasty things about him,” And my friends will pile on and they go, “He’s not like that.” A lot of these reviews then get taken down by the person that posted it because they’re getting negative reviews on their review.”

Google My Business also allows for a business to create two different kinds of posts. Google Offers last for a predetermined amount of time and can be used to advertise special events and discount codes. Google Posts are similar to posts on other social media platforms and can be used like miniature blog posts.

Using Google Ads

In order to grow a business, a business needs to gain more customers, which is where advertising comes in. While Google Ads may not work for every business, Monte believes that every business, big or small, should run a Google Ads campaign at least once to see how much it costs to buy a customer. “Let’s say I want to sell dresses, and I have to advertise on Google Ads, and it costs me $10 a click, and you only get a purchase every three clicks, which costs $30 per dress. There isn’t enough margin in that dress to pay for it. Now you know that Google Ads won’t work, and you know what it costs to buy a client.”

Running a Google Ads campaign on your own is a big risk. While the process has become more automated through machine learning and artificial intelligence, running your own Google Ads campaign is fraught with danger to the uneducated, and you could find yourself losing a lot of money quickly. The SmartHub has its own team of digital marketing experts who can help you create your first Google Ads campaign, which you can contact via messaging the SmartHub Facebook page, by coming into Customs House at 208 Quay St or by emailing the SmartHub at smarthub@rrc.qld.gov.au. Monte is also available to help at monte@content2convert.com.au.

Optimising Your Website

An issue Monte often runs into in his job is businesses with inappropriate websites. These sites are often trying to do too much, they are disjointed, and they have too much content, making it unclear what the business wants the visitor to do. “Anyone interested in your business is going to Google you, so when you Google your own business name, hopefully your website should come up organically on the top of the list, and if you trade out of a physical location, the Google My Business listing should show up on the right-hand side. Websites today are so inexpensive and there are resources here you can access. There’s no reason not to have a website,” Monte said.

A good website needs to be able to answer three questions in order to be effective: What is this website about, what is the user supposed to do on the site, and how can the user get in touch with you? Every element of the site should answer one of these three questions. For example, Monte believes that a website should display contact information on every single page. “I think the contact us page is now redundant, because I believe that the phone number should be in the upper right-hand corner on every page of the site, and if it’s on a mobile device there should be a click-to-call button.” A click-to-call button allows a mobile device to make a call without having to input the number. Instead, the user presses the button and the device will check if the user would like to call the number, saving time and making it easier for users to get in contact with you.

There is a simple test Monte uses to work out if a website is effective. “Go to a local bar, sporting club, or an RSL, whatever it might be after work, around six o’clock. Maybe the lighting isn’t great, maybe it’s noisy, and find someone who you don’t know to go to your website on their phone. It has to be on their phone, because they might have an older model and be on a slower network. Get them to go to your site and ask them three questions: What is the site about, what does the site want them to do, and how do they get in touch with you? I speak to lots of people and I ask them if they’ve done this and they tell me, “We’ve taken it to our friends and our co-workers, but they know who you are and that you’re running this business. They know all that, so you can’t use them. You have to go make friends with a stranger.”

Succeeding in SEO

In order for a website to do well, it must be optimised. SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of modifying your website in order to improve its ranking when a user searches for an associated term. According to Monte, continuous and fresh content is the key to SEO success. “You can’t cheat at making content. I cannot ask a marketing intern to write blog posts about my business, because they’re not going to be genuine and they’re not going to be an expert. Google wants to see and understand who the author is and what’s going on. You can’t outsource that.”

Creating content and updating your site is key to success with SEO. Google’s method of ranking sites involves checking for content that is expert, authoritative and trustworthy, or EAT. “Google has a bot that crawls your site. So, it comes and sees your site, comes back next week. If it doesn’t see any new content, it says come back in a fortnight. If it comes back in a fortnight and it still doesn’t see any new content, it says come back in a month. Over time, you train the bot not to come back because you’re not putting anything new up there,” Monte explained.

While the thought of keeping a site updated may seem daunting, it can make a world of difference for a very small amount of work. “You don’t have to re-write your whole website every three weeks,” Monte said, “You’re normally talking about a blog post of 400 to 600 words every two to three weeks. You don’t have to change the about us and the services offering, just a blog post. It’s like having a plant at home that you need to water to keep alive.”

A great technique to keep your site active is to ‘news jack’, which is the process of associating your products or services with an upcoming event. “I was talking to a Turbo-Traction Lab participant last night and he’s into rowing, which happens on the Rockhampton River. If there’s a rowing event coming up in two or three weeks, that’s an opportunity to associate your products and service with that event. It gives you an excuse to write something that’s new and relevant and maybe when somebody is googling that event, they’re going to see that you’re talking about it.”

Once you have a site with regularly updated quality content, the next step is to check for quality using a tool such as Lighthouse. This plugin for Google Chrome can analyse your website much like Google’s bots do, letting you know about things like the loading speed of your site, how secure your site is and if your site meets accessibility guidelines for people with vision or hearing impairments as well as SEO characteristics.

Top Tips

While following Monte’s advice can improve your website’s Google ranking, you won’t know if it’s working without being able to access your Google Analytics. This feature can show you where the traffic for your site comes from, be it organic or paid or from a search or social media. “Not having Google Analytics on your website is like driving your car without an instrument cluster,” Monte said, “You don’t know what speed you’re going, and you don’t know how much petrol you have.”

Another key feature to install on your website is the Google Search Console. This piece of code can show you how Google’s robot views your site. “Google Console shows you the robot and tells you how long it’s been coming and the pages it has indexed. You can put in a robot.txt file, which will tell it not to index things you don’t want. You can put in an XML sitemap which will tell it to include these things. It lets you know how the Google bot sees your site,” Monte explained.

When asked about other advice he had to give, Monty emphasised the importance of the RSL test and getting a stranger to assess your business, making sure your contact information is prominent on all parts of your website and trying out a Google Ads campaign at least once.

Working with the Turbo-Traction Lab

Monte is proud to be working with the SmartHub as part of the Turbo-Traction Lab, working with a number of participants in order to grow and create a modern business by getting hands-on and working with world-class experts. If you would like to learn more about the Turbo-Traction Lab or the services on offer at the SmartHub, get in touch via Facebook, by emailing smarthub@rrc.qld.gov.au or by coming down to Customs House at 208 Quay St, Rockhampton for a chat. 

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