Get More Clients by Befriending Google
The below is an article I wrote for the ifa magazine, reproduced with permission.
Most businesses rely on word of mouth and referrals to grow their business. Yet with so many people looking for someone just like you on Google, how are you maximising the chance they find your business?
Buying experiences across every industry now predominantly start online (in fact, current estimates are that 87 per cent of us begin the process of buying a product or service on Google). On top of this, the data suggests that 92 per cent of prospective buyers don’t make it past page one of Google’s search results.
This means that as a financial advice business looking to grow, it’s never been more important to be as close to the top of page one of Google’s search results as possible.
The good news is that while most businesses assume that their Google ranking is at the mercy of the ‘Google Gods’, it’s far more in your control than you may realise.
There are some technical ways to improve your Google rankings based on how your website is built (speak to your web designer about ‘your on-page SEO’), and you also have the option to pay to get to the top of Google’s rankings through Google Ads. These things work, but they are expensive and nigh-on impossible to implement on your own.
Despite the complexities of Google’s algorithm, there are some low-cost, easy-to-execute ways to improve your Google presence, attract more visitors to your website and, ultimately, get more leads.
Below I’ve included some simple hacks and strategies that you can deploy in order to move closer to the top of search results and ensure that when someone is looking for a business like yours, you appear front and centre.
Set up your Google My Business profile properly
Google is prioritising ‘Google My Business’ in its search results and as a major component of their overall business strategy.
If you’re unsure what I mean by Google My Business, these are the business listings that sit within Google Maps. When you see ‘Google Reviews’, these are attached to a business’ Google My Business listing.
If you don’t have a Google My Business profile and want to grow your business, you definitely need to set one up ASAP. If you already have a Google My Business account, using your profile wisely will see you rewarded by better Google Search results.
Your profile should include:
– A description which clearly articulates your services and the locations that you service. Include the types of words that people would be using when looking for your business and make sure your description captures as many of them as possible.
– Photos of your team and office. Not only will this add colour and depth to your listing, but it also flags to Google that you’re taking your profile seriously (which they will reward you for).
– Regular posts. Most people don’t realise that Google My Business allows you to post updates, kind of like a Social Media profile. While this is somewhat hidden and not overly popular, it is another indication to Google that you are actively enhancing your online presence. Doing this at least weekly will also improve your search rankings.
Gather as many Google Reviews as possible
One of the biggest benefits of a Google My Business profile is being able to collect Google Reviews from happy clients and your broader network. Given that 59 per cent of people lean on online reviews before engaging a professional services business, this is not only a great way of boosting your Google presence, but it is also a brilliant way to build trust and create certainty for prospective clients.
In order to feature prominently in the Google My Business search rankings, you need at least 50 reviews. So if you haven’t started collecting these already, you need to start right now. Over time, this needs to become part of a regular process in your business.
I have consistently seen client businesses double their website traffic, solely by prioritising Google Reviews.
I’ll be digging into more of the ‘how-to’ on this one in a future article but for now, start creating a list of people who love what you’re doing and would be happy to provide a testimonial. Also consider a moment in your client experience where clients are at their happiest and it would make sense to ask for a review.
Produce regular content
Google doesn’t only care about what’s happening on Google, its clever algorithm also keeps an eye on your social media platforms and website to see what you’re up to, rewarding those businesses who are regularly contributing to the quality of the internet through valuable content.
In short, this means that if you are sharing relevant articles, videos or other information on your business’ blog or social media, it will boost your Google rankings.
Ideally, your business should have a regular ‘content creation’ strategy which continually enhances your website and social media presence. But at the very least, I see far too many businesses creating valuable content for their clients or networks (e.g. share market updates), but not multi-purposing these online. Start to add this stuff to your blog and social media platforms as well as your Google My Business profile, as a quick win for your ongoing rankings.
As a bonus, Google LOVES video content, especially when it’s on YouTube (which it owns). So include YouTube video as part of your content creation mix, ensuring the descriptions of these videos summarise the essence of the video using plenty of the types of words people looking for your business may be using in Google’s search.
Michael Back, founder and business coach, Human to Human