Showing out on Google (get fresh at the weekend)
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
As I research before meeting with potential customers, first thing I do is search for them. 'Having a Google' (actual phrase) can tell you a wealth of third party info about you - and your competitors. Add Google Analytics in, of which more about at another time, and you have a really powerful view of your online presence with which to inform your business and start to make marketing decisions.
SEO 101, see what Google shows for your business
Go and Google your company name, see what comes up. If you have a website and it's optimised, you might see your website in the top 5 Google placements. If you don't, is your Facebook there? How about your listing on a Trusted Trader website or an approved contractor register? There's a good bet that your Companies House register entry is up there if nothing else, but do you want that to be all customers can find out about you? If you are a small family business then you might find someone with the same name offering different services in there too. The real goal to aim for is seeing your website appear in the top three results. This takes time and careful management of your website copy - mihu.co.uk is three weeks old and Google doesn't know enough about it (or indeed I don't have enough traffic yet) to be anywhere near the top; in two, three months however I want to be up there, and I should certainly be in the top two when I search for myself. So you did that search, do any of the results on the first page (top, bottom or on the side) have a little 'Ad' somewhere in there, like the picture just beneath this?
The two at the top may look like search results, but are in fact paid advertising on Google, the third result at the bottom is the first proper search result. If you see the ad markers anywhere when you search for your company name, it tells you quite simply that one of your competitors had paid money to appear when someone searches for you. Quite a compliment that they view you as worth advertising against, but think of the opportunity cost if you do not show up there with them. A potential new customer may have heard of you as a professional, but if they look for you online and one of your competitors comes up with a similar offer or decent price point, and you are nowhere to be found, you can guess where they click next.
You don't need to spend loads of cash on Google ads (unless you want to whack the competition in the same way), but taking the time to have good SEO (the technical term for the quality of your web appearance, content and general ranking on Google) pays dividends, it's an ongoing process that takes work, but nothing beats the feeling you get when you search for your business and you see yourself on the first page.
Of course the elephant in the room here is that quite often, a potential customer will be searching for a service rather than your actual name, appearing first for your name is good in a brand way, but unless you have a well known word combination as a brand, it won't bring you so much useful traffic, tune in next time when I'll bang on some more about SEO and how you can make sure that you are showing out, looking fresh andon top when someone searches for you - whether you are a plumber, painter or parrot breeder - at the weekend or any other time.
If you want any help with the above, drop me a bell and let's have a cuppa.