Believe-it-or-not, there is free advertising on Google! It’s called Google My Business: a free listing service that provides extensive information about your business directly in the search results, and conveniently at the fingertips of your future (prospective) clients. Patrons can contact you by phone, direct message you, or visit your location without even clicking on your website!
What is Google My Business?
What is Google My Business, you ask? Say, for example, you type in a Google search and a map with little red map pins on the page featuring your competitors’ businesses appears: those businesses populating the map are active Google My Business accounts.
This is powerful because the visual draws people’s eyes to an otherwise mostly bland text page. Just by glancing at these listings – potential new customers obtain valuable information: including your phone number, location, and user rating from customer reviews. Users have enough information to contact you directly from this listing – bypassing your website completely.
Consider the convenience of your competitors business highlighted on the map; it will likely be contacted versus a business listed lower on the page. All of the businesses visible on the page are local, including the searcher’s location. It offersexactly what the search is looking for.
By clicking on the businesses listed from the search, it opens up a full business profile that includes the following details for each business:
Reviews from people who have used the business
Product / service listings
Posts and events
The list goes on……
It is easy to see why a Google My Business account is vital to any business’s performance.
Get on the Map: How to get a Google My Business Listing?
It is easy, go to Google.com/business and follow the set up links. Before you start there are a couple of things you should have ready:
You will need a Gmail address. A free one will work.
You must use a physical address, no P.O. boxes! Google needs a physical address to mail you a post card with a verification code. They will not send the post card to a P.O. box.
When you have completed the application, Google will mail you a post card with a verification code. Enter that code into your account and you are ‘Verified’.
Wait a minute….If someone works from home, they likely will not want their address shown?
When completing your application there is a question that asks: ‘Do you want to add a location customer can visit, like a store or office?’
If you answer ‘yes’ your address will show,
If you answer ‘no’ your address will not show.
Optimize to Show on the Map
Having an account does not necessarily mean that your listing will be featured business on the search results page. Your account needs to be active and optimized, just like your social media accounts such as Facebook etc.
There are lots of items you can add to your account that helps people better understand your business:
Encourage Customer Reviews
These are the reviews from real people who have experienced your business process. They legitimize your business to Google, and provide confidence to prospective customers, like a virtual testimonial. These reviews encourage significant influence over your potential new clients!
When you are confident in your business, a user has an overall great experience, and that will resonate. When this happens, don’t be shy to ask them for a review, even just a star rating – it goes a long way!
Here is the caveat: Do NOT offer compensation to anyone for reviewing your business, ever! If Google catches you it’s bad news. The reality is, it’s lonely at the bottom of listings.
Some of my customers include a review link directly in their customer follow up emails or texts.
Reply to Reviews
When you answer reviews, you demonstrate to both Google and your customers that you are indeed active and involved. An engaged business owner demonstrates legitimacy to both Google and prospective customers!
List Your Products and Services
There is plenty of room to showcase your products with pictures and their descriptions. There’s even an option to add prices; simply look for ‘Products’ on the menu.
Google My Business is a visual medium, so pictures work very well. Show the inside, the outside, as well as demonstrations of your products or services. Don’t forget to add some fun stuff too for a personal touch! For example, one of my customers held an ugly sweater contest and featured the images online, another had a Halloween party. Another client uploaded behind-the-scenes pictures of a video shoot, all were viewed heavily on Google My Business.
Short posts (from your Blog)
Add your full blog posts or just excerpts of blog posts with a link back to your website.
If you don’t blog, just add a snippet of information, or advice with a picture works well too.
If you are speaking, exhibiting, or attending an event, Google My Business is a powerful place to promote it.
Special offers go a long way. Show them here too.
Special Hours and Holidays
Here’s another cool thing you can do with a Google My Business account: add ‘Special Hours’ around holidays.
This is important to note where there’s an adjustment of hours due to a holiday long weekend, especially if your business is closed on the holiday. These special hours will over ride your regular business hours. If you are temporarily closing the business for a vacation or illness, you can do it and communicate it to your customers here.
The Power of Social Media Exists Here Too
Google My Business is as powerful as you want to make it. The businesses that are visible on the map and search results pages are proactively working their account with review responses, posts, and other updates. At webinars and seminars, I always advise people to treat their Google My Business account like a social media account. When they update Facebook do Google My Business too. You will be so glad you did!
There are some long weekends coming this summer. That means a few Mondays when you will be either open or closed on the holiday Mondays.
Whether are open or closed, before you put your feet up for the long weekend check that your Google My Business Hours reflect your holiday Monday hours.
Google My Business Holiday Hours
You are probably showing Monday’s as ‘open’ in Google My Business. After all, you are open most Mondays, except not on long weekends. If you are closed or working on modified hours, it’s best to say so on your Google My Business so people don’t get frustrated or confused when doing a Google search.
When you identify ‘special hours’ for holidays in Google My Business – those hours will override your standard hours of operation on that date.
Mark Your Vacation Closings in Google My Business Too
Are you planning a vacation later this year? Will it cause your business to close while you are away? If that’s an affirmative ‘yes’, then it’s a really good idea to add any specialty hours right away to your Google My Business account to let your customers know. The best part? It’s such an easy step to do- you won’t blink twice before it’s done!
How to Add Holidays in Your Google My Business Account:
Adding these hours is very quick, and really quite simple:
Log into your Google My Business Account
On the left menu click ‘Info’
On the info page, scroll down just below your standard business hours
Click the pencil
Enter hours for days when this business has an irregular schedule (As long as you are there, you might as well mark off other holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.)
2020 Canadian and US Holidays
Here’s a list of major holidays for 2020 and the start of 2021. You’ll likely have irregular hours to input to your Google My Business account:
Google Ads settings can give your campaigns a lot of power and significantly improve performance—or they can completely derail your campaign and get very expensive very quick.
Some of these settings are ‘set and forget,’ so we tend not to think about them unless there’s a problem.
Here are a few examples I’ve seen where incorrect settings sucked daily budgets into oblivion:
Spending $200 in an hour on clicks from Albania when the target geography was Ottawa, Canada.
Exhausting your daily budget during the day, when your target market shops in evenings and nights.
Not knowing if your advertising is getting any results at all.
Showing your ads on the wrong network.
It’s easy to take these settings for granted; they’re not things we look at every day in our busy lives. We often assume they’re correct and working until we notice something wrong.
Occasionally, it’s a good idea to give your Google Ads settings a check, if for no other reason than to make sure they’re not sucking money out of your daily budget.
Locations where your ads are showing
You could have an incredibly compelling ad, but if it’s showing in the wrong location, it’s useless. One of my customers couldn’t understand why their daily budget was consistently exhausted before noon. It turned our their ads were running in Albania. They were spending about $50/day (for 50 days!) on ads that weren’t even reaching their target market!
The fix was simple: Go into ‘Campaign Settings’ and set location to the customer’s targeted geography—in this case, Ontario, Canada. Once this was done, their budget lasted all day, and they were getting lots more sales.
How to check your locations:
Go to the campaign you want to check.
On the right menu, click ‘Settings.’
Click locations. If there are corrections to be made, click the pencil and follow the prompts.
Days and Hours Your Ads Can Run
Running ads 24 hours a day can get expensive, especially if most of your clicks come in the evening and your budget is exhausted during the day.
One E-commerce customer was getting very few sales, until we changed the hours of their ads to evening and middle of the night—that’s when their target market liked to shop. Run your ads when your customers most likely to be looking for you.
How to set your Days and Hours
Select your Campaign.
On the side menu, click ‘Ad Schedule.’ The days of the week and the times your ads are showing will appear.
Select the pencil below that chart and then pick your days and times to your ads to appear.
Networks Where Your Ads are Showing
Google offers lots of networks: Search, display, video, Gmail, etc. Make sure you are on the network you want. I’ve seen many accounts showing ads on the display network because the account owners inadvertently clicked Search Network with Display Select. Make sure the network(s) of your choice are what you have turned on.
How to set up your networks
Select your campaign.
On the right menu, select ‘Settings.’
Google Ads Conversion Tracking
Make sure you have Conversion Tracking set up. Conversions are what you want people to do on your website: Buy something, complete a form, sign up for your email list, etc. If you don’t have conversion tracking properly implemented, it’s like driving without a rear view mirror. You simply don’t know if your advertising is working, or at least which half of your advertising is working.
Google Ads Quality Score measures your relevance on a one to ten scale. Ignoring it can be a costly mistake. Andrew, one of my customers learned that the hard way.
More Money but No Relevance
The first time Andrew called me; he was frustrated with his Google Ads Account. There were few clicks, and no sales. Every time he did a search, he found his ad near the bottom of the Google listings.
Andrew claimed he had raised his click bid to from $2 to $5, but never got near the top of the listings. Then his real frustration came out. “I don’t know what’s wrong with Google, I’m offering $5 bucks a click and my competitor (a friend of Andrew’s) is only offering $3 a click.” Exacerbated, he added, “He’s always at the top of the page, and I’m at the bottom. I’m willing to pay more!”
By now I was knowingly nodding my head; Andrew had forgotten about Relevancy—one of the most important components of Google Ads.
The Real Value of Relevance
Relevance is the usefulness of your ad relative to the user’s search. Andrew’s ad was very general, while his competitor’s ad mentioned the product users were searching for and provided key differentiating features and a call to action.
When it comes to relevance, remember that Google only gets paid when your ad is clicked. So, if 100 people see your ad but no one clicks, Google won’t make a cent.
Simply put, the competitor’s ad was more relevant than Andrew’s ad, so Google believed it would get more clicks if it were higher in the listings. More relevant ads will often find themselves above higher paying competitive ads because more clicks mean more money for Google.
Google Ads Quality Score
To help guide us toward more relevant ads, Google provides us with a ‘Quality Score’ for each of our keywords. The Quality Score is Google’s opinion on how well your keyword matches what’s in your ad and what’s on your landing page. You’re given a one to ten rating, 1 meaning poor quality and 10 meaning very high quality.
Andrew had a Quality Score of two, poor. By working on his quality score components Andrew’s reached scores between 7 and 10, reduced his cost per click 20%, rose to higher ad listing positions, and received a lot more sales.
Quality Score has three components:
Ad Relevance—How closely the keyword relates to your advertisement.
Landing Page Experience—How useful your landing page is relative to the keyword.
Expected CTR (Click Through Rate)—How likely users are to click on your ad when shown with the keyword.
All three components, especially ‘Expected CTR,’ use historical data. This means that as your clicks increase, your quality score will likely begin to improve too.
How to Keep Ads Relevant to Your Keywords
The best way to maintain relevance is to keep your keywords grouped by specific themes. If you have a group of keywords that have a common theme, put them together in an Ad Group. For example, a home renovation company might group keywords by type of renovation: basement, kitchen, bathroom, etc. All the basement related keywords go in basement, kitchen related keywords go in kitchen, etc.
All the ads for the basement ad group will contain the word ‘basement,’ kitchen ad group ads will contain the word ‘kitchen,’ etc.
By using the ad group name in the ad, the ad becomes relevant to user searches.
Each ad group sends the user to pages related to the keyword in the ad group. The basements ad group goes to a basement landing page, kitchens to a kitchens page, etc.
This is the trickiest Quality Score component because it relies heavily on how many clicks your ad is getting. It uses Click History.
Troubleshooting A Low Quality Score
If your quality score is below five, it’s a good idea to look deeper at relevance. Each Quality Score component consists of three ratings: Below Average, Average, and Above Average. A low quality score probably means one or two of these components is ‘Below Average.’
Here’s how to improve a below average rating in each component:
Ad Relevance: Make sure the keyword is in the first or second headline of the ad.
Landing Page Experience: See how well the promise made in the ad is fulfilled on the landing page.
Expected CTR: This is the toughest one because Google is pretty vague on what it means. It’s been my experience that if I can get the Landing Page Experience and Ad Relevance to Average or Above Average, the Expected CTR slowly follows.
If your keywords are grouped by theme, and you use the theme name in your ads, you will increase your ad relevance. Check your landing page for the keyword or variations of it. These simple tactics will help keep your ads relevant and higher in the listings.
You would know more about your business if you listened to your website
Have you ever felt like you know if you are missing marketing opportunities? It’s kind of like, ’I don’t know what I don’t know.’
Marketing gives many of us that feeling, because we often cannot see direct outcomes of our investments and effort.
When done correctly, marketing gets customers through your door or to your website. Whether it’s through social media, speaking, networking, or paid advertising, businesses need marketing to grow.
But how do you know if your marketing strategy is working? This is a question business people have been asking since marketing and advertising were invented. Back in the 1920s, department store magnate John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Thankfully, we live in a digital age where everything can be tracked, so you can easily see which half of your marketing is working. This means you can spot marketing opportunities and do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
Unfortunately, I see too many businesses that are missing key marketing opportunities because the owners have misconceptions about online tracking. Not taking the time to fully understand how to track your online marketing puts you in the same boat as John Wanamaker.
Here are the top six misconceptions about tracking online marketing—and why they may be holding you back:
1. Believing Tracking Marketing Results is Difficult
Web tracking is different, but not difficult. There’s a lot of data packed into charts and graphs, with terminology like users, sessions, and conversions. Google Analytics (free web tracking software) gives the definitions in the charts and graphs, so you always know what you are looking at.
2. Believing They Don’t Have Marketing Tracking Technology
Google Analytics is a free web tracking software that tells you where website visitors came from (including which marketing program), what pages they visited, which buttons they clicked, and a lot more. Google Analytics is free, and when your website was created, your developer probably loaded it onto your site. You would be amazed how many times I tell customers they already have in installed.
3. Not Using the Full Power of Google Analytics
Many businesses that know Google Analytics is installed on their website have not done any setup or configuration. In just a few minutes, Google Analytics can be configured so it presents data that is useful to you.
For example, how nice would it be to know at a glance:
How many lead forms were completed on each of your marketing programs?
How many sales were made in each of your marketing programs?
How many people signed up for your email list through your various marketing programs?
And so much more.
By configuring Google Analytics, your data is organized to answer just about any important marketing questions you have.
4. Believing Marketing Tracking is Too Expensive
A basic web tracking set up for most businesses is generally done in a few hours, for under $500. Almost all the work is done at the beginning, with setting up goals, filters, etc. This is the ‘set and forget’ stuff—once it’s done, you don’t have to go back to it for a long time.
Web tracking is not expensive…. It just needs a little TLC to get started.
5. Not using tracking codes for email newsletters, Social Media, and other Campaigns
Tracking codes are added to the links that go back to your website from your email blast, social media, advertisements, etc. You need a unique tracking code for each marketing campaign you run.
For example, suppose you have a ‘Spring blowout sale’ that you promote on Facebook, email blasts and an advertisement on another website. All have links back to the ‘spring blowout sale’ landing page on your website. Each of those links should contain a different:
Facebook (you can see how many sales came from Facebook); and
6. Not Looking at Marketing Tracking Frequently Enough
It’s easy to forget. We’re all busy and have tons of things to do, and besides, it’s not always fun looking at charts and graphs.
Use automated reports
Being busy is business reality. Automated reports send a snapshot of your marketing performance to your inbox once a week, once a month, or once a day—whatever frequency you choose. If you see an issue, click on the report and investigate. Really, it’s that easy!