If you want to connect with a prospect in your advertising, you need to work out what they’re thinking. Fortunately, with search marketing – and this can apply to writing web page titles for search engine results, as well as creating adverts – there’s a lot that can be deduced about the prospect’s intent from the search itself. This is explained really well in Get inside your customer’s head: A guide to writing irresistible calls to action on Search Engine Land. The call to action which gets people to your website can be as important as the call to action on it. Have a read.
Google’s confused offerings for businesses over the years have all been pretty hopeless, but the current “Google My Business” product is essential to get to know. Although it’s primarily marketed at local businesses, it’s just as important for national ones. Quite simply, if anyone searches for your company on Google, a huge colourful panel will appear to the right of the search results, and if you want any control about what’s there, you need to be up to date on Google My Business.
Much as I’d love to give you a step by step guide, there’s too much to cover. I don’t think there are too many tips to provide anyway – just work your way through the system and make sure you’ve provided all the right information. If you’ve had Google+ brand accounts or a Google Local account in the past, sign in with the Google account you used to manage those. You can (and should) also create locations for any regional offices you have, nationally or internationally.
Also, remember that this big panel about you on the Google search results page belongs to Google, and they’re going to put what they want in it. All you can do is to guide them. Spend a while searching for competitors by name, and see what they’re getting in their panel. There might be some features which you’ll want too. But if you don’t like the photos which eventually get shown, or the reviews which people can add about you, hard luck. There are ways to manipulate these, but this is not an advertising feature, where you can call the shots. However, if you don’t get involved, Google may well just create a panel anyway, over which you have no say at all.
Here are some starter guides which are all helpful:
The images you upload to your website should be no bigger than they need to be. That means no bigger in width and height, and no bigger in file size. Almost every site could do better in this respect. If your image sizes are optimised in this way, your site loads faster. If your site loads faster, it makes users and search engines happier. You get more business, and everyone wins.
From big to small: 5 free image compression tools reviewed on Search Engine Land is a great place to start doing the right thing. Then in future, before uploading an image, (a) you’ll have made sure its dimensions are no more than the largest size it’ll ever be shown; and (b) you’ll have used just the right amount of image compression to balance sharpness and file size.
You’re top in the Google results for your own company name, right? So why would you worry about all the stuff which comes underneath?
Well, so long as it’s just directory listings, that’s fine. But in the future, there might be something unpleasant. You never know. And getting rid of it will be difficult. So it’s a good idea to build up more quality sites mentioning you in advance. That way, if something nasty comes along, it’ll be harder for it to get on to the first page of results. 6 web properties you can use to protect your branded search results is a terrific article on Search Engine Land which gives you a whole series of ideas. Have a read.
If you use the Google My Business offering from Google (and you should), then there’s a new feature to play with. ‘Google Posts’ (at least we think that’s what it’s called) is a way of putting up-to-date announcements right on the Google search results page when people look for your company. As an example, if you search for us, you should see some ‘posts’ in the panel on the right. My guess is that these have a limited shelf life, but they’re a good way of dropping important news or offers in front of people.
The feature first saw the light of day over a year ago, in a strictly limited format. The Ars Technica website described it then as being like “a Google+ reboot just for brands”. Now it’s being offered to everyone. There’s more at Search Engine Land here.