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Small Business Guide to the Google Universe

The video above is a replay of a recent live webinar I conducted. Combined with the text below you should have a pretty good feel for how to use Google for small businesses.

While Google has a lot of different products and services, to me, the following are what truly make up Google’s Small Business Universe for marketers and small business owners:

These are all great tools to help you grow your small business, so I thought I’d dive into each of them to give you a better understanding of how to use them and how they can benefit you.

Google My Business

This tool is critical for local businesses. This is one of the top ways, if not the way, businesses are getting found in their local community, which is why I spend so much time talking and writing about this topic.

Google My Business

Google My Business and the 3-Pack (above) show up when a person does a search for a term that is clearly for a local business. Getting your business to show up in the maps listing, as seen above, is extremely important and a good goal to achieve for local businesses today. There are a lot of factors that go into this, but the first one to focus on is ensuring your Google My Business listing is accurate and well-optimized. To optimize the listing:

  • Claim the listing
  • Make sure you don’t have any duplicate listings (this is rather common with the various iterations this tool went through)
  • Select a specific category for your business (avoid being too general)
  • Ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) match the NAP on your website
  • Add images and videos
  • Put efforts together to help your business increase positive reviews on the listing (reviews are a huge ranking factor)

In addition to the tactics above, there are some things you can do on an ongoing basis to increase your chances of being found in the 3-Pack.

Google Posts

  • Respond to all reviews (both positive and negative) – Be sure to turn on notifications so that you are alerted when a new review has been posted so that you can respond promptly.
  • Use Google Posts – This is one of the newer features within the Google My Business listing and typically speaking, if Google really starts to pay attention to something, I’d recommend you spend time on it as well as it could imply that it will influence search rankings. This is one of those things. This new feature allows you to essentially showcase mini blog posts within the Google My Business listing that can be educational or promotional. It’s another area to really showcase your business.
  • Another thing to check frequently is making sure nobody is suggesting inaccurate edits to your listing, which people have the ability to do by clicking the Suggest an Edit feature in the public listing.
  • With the new messaging feature on mobile devices, people can actually text you now from the Google My Business listing (your number will never show publicly). This can be a great tool for businesses who are appointment-focused or need to respond to messages quickly.
  • You have the ability to set up your website as a tracking URL (UTM code) in the edit screen of your listing (it will still show as your URL when it’s public-facing). This allows you to clearly see where your marketing efforts are having an impact, where people are coming from, and so on. If you don’t create a tracking URL, and just put in your web address, all of that traffic in Google Analytics will say it came from Direct traffic and won’t segment out that it was from your listing, which I think is important information to have. By adding the UTM code, it will filter under the Organic traffic bucket, which is where it really belongs.

Google Search Console

This is another free tool that has actually been around for a while (formerly Webmaster Tools) and is one of the most important tools for you to use for your SEO efforts. Google has spent a lot of time in recent years to improve it which to me, is a sign it’s not going away anytime soon and is a significant tool for you to use.

This tool is your best source of data about where your traffic is coming from, how pages are ranking, and what people are searching for that actually lead them to your website (we used to be able to get that information in Google Analytics but are no longer able to).

They are currently in the process of releasing a new version of the tool, so right now you’ll spend a bit of time going back and forth between the old version and new, which isn’t a huge deal with how it’s set up, but it’s something to be aware of.

To set everything up, go to Google Search Console and:

  • Claim and verify your website (I’d recommend choosing the Google Analytics option in the instructions to do this)
  • Add your sitemap (if you use WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a great tool to submit a sitemap)
  • Check your messages – This is where Google will communicate with you about your website and any issues you’re experiencing (it may take a couple of days for the messages to populate). Google will actually be able to point out page crawl errors, HTML improvements, penalties, and if you’ve been hacked. It will also tell you how to fix all of these issues.
  • Integrate Google Search Console with Google Analytics (this will help you track goals and conversions). In Google Analytics, click Admin and then Property settings, you’ll see Search Console and it will give you the ability to add a Search Console.
  • Wait a few days (depending on your site, it may take some time for Google to crawl your site and gather the information needed).

This tool is also a great place to track the performance of your content and pages. You can:

  • Find keyword search rankings
  • Compare performance over time
  • Check out click through rate
  • Spot ranking opportunities
  • Find conversion opportunities

Google Ads

Google has recently changed the name from Google AdWords to Google Ads, and I think there are a couple of reasons why:

  • It’s more comprehensive than it used to be (it’s so much more than keywords now)
  • Advertising is now more about intent
  • Machine learning behavior and bots will dictate how advertising rolls out

How to Link Google Ads to Google Analytics

Link Google Ads and Analytics

The screenshot above is located in Google Analytics. Click Admin and scroll over to Property, where you’ll see AdWords linking (you can do this from Google Ads as well). I recommend integrating these tools because you want to know where your traffic is coming from and if it’s converting. It’s a great way to track your goals and get granular with your marketing.

New features in Google Ads

  • Local Ads (new campaign type)
    • Access by going to New Campaign
    • Local Campaign is focused on small local business and make it as easy as possible to run a campaign across various properties in the Google Universe
    • As a side note, see where it makes sense because it’ll be an easy way to spend all of your money at once.
  • Responsive Search Ad (new ad type)
    • Google does A/B testing for you and you’re able to input up to 15 headlines, 300 characters and 4 descriptions in the pool where they’ll mix up all the combinations (including extensions) and test on your behalf (leading to roughly 40K+ possible combinations) so that you know the ads give you the greatest opportunity for click-through rates.
    • These ads will essentially take over page one of Google (which is great for advertisers) and is something marketers should pay attention to.
    • These ads are currently in beta and aren’t showing up for everybody just yet (best practices aren’t currently in place in this beta phase either)
  • Local Service Ads from Google
    • This feature has been around for awhile but it is something that has been expanding rapidly. It is focused on a handful of home service businesses and if you’re one of these businesses, you need to be paying attention to these placements because they are dominating page one.
    • Reviews, proximity, responsiveness and how well your ad profile is optimized will contribute to your prominence in this space.
    • These ads are set up as cost per lead based on search term.
    • You have the ability to do search term and geotargeting.

To sign up for Local Service Ads:

  • Go to google.com/adwords/local-services-ads
  • Download the app
  • Create a profile
  • Get Google Guaranteed (employee background checks)
  • Set a monthly budget in Google Ads
  • Respond quickly
  • Focus on reviews

Local Service Ads

If I had to name a few key takeaways from this post, they would be:

  • Google My Business is a must for local businesses.
  • Google Search Console provides the best SEO data.
  • It’s important to connect Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.
  • You must pay attention to ads.

There you have it! Have you started to explore these areas of Google? If not, I highly recommend doing so.

Need more tips on search engine optimization? Check out our entire Guide to SEO.

Need a proven small business marketing speaker for your next workshop, conference or event?

google analytics

Improve Your Business by Getting the Most Out of Your Data

Marketing Podcast with Jeff Sauer
Podcast Transcript

Jeff Sauer

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jeff Sauer. He is a digital marketing speaker, professor, and Google Analytics consultant. He and I discuss how businesses that track and use data to get better, succeed.

Sauer is a born problem solver who has been creating on the web since he was in 8th grade. After graduating from college with a degree in Computer Information Systems, Sauer became a full-time Internet marketer in 2005. Since then, he has helped grow his company, Three Deep Marketing by 500% to $6 million in revenues, being named to the Inc 5000 list for 2010, 2011 and 2012. While working with some of the biggest brands in the world, his company has won numerous awards. Sauer was named the 2012 CIO of the Year in Minneapolis/St. Paul for emerging companies.

Questions I ask Jeff Sauer:

  • What advice do you give to people to set up Google Analytics so that it’s not confusing?
  • What are Google Search Console and Tag Manager integrations?
  • How can you get rid of referral spam in Google Analytics?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to use Goals in Google Analytics
  • How to navigate reports in Google Analytics
  • How AdWords and Google Analytics integrate

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jeff Sauer:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Are you in need of WordPress support? If so, I highly recommend using WP Fix It. They provide 24/7 instant WordPress Support and now have a plugin that allows them to access your WP install while you’re in it. It’s pretty convenient! Be sure to check them out.

Are you an independent marketing consultant or an agency owner? If so, you may want to check out the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. It is a growing group of independent marketing consultants and agencies that are partnering and collaborating using the Duct Tape Marketing tools, and really scaling their businesses. Check it out at ducttapemarketingconsultant.com.

Weekend Favs June Twenty Nine

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

9134426493_1b4d33dcb3

A new custom bike getting assembled at Mission Bikes in San Francisco

Good stuff I found this week:

Reader.is – Yet another fine looking RSS reader with very simple interface.

Friends+Me – Tool that allows you to create more engagement on Google+ and publish to other social networks.

Google Analytics Solution Gallery – List of Analytics Dashboards custom created for specific types of businesses.

Weekend Favs February Nine

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

tea Nothing like a good hot cup of tea in the morning!

Good stuff I found this week:

Qualaroo – Web site visitor and customer behavior survey tool makes it easy to ask visitors questions.

Top 10 Social Media Blogs – List compiled by Social Media Examiner each year.

Small Business Guide to Google Analytics – Great information here but I like the way they’ve presented it too.

3 5 Google Analytics Reports and Tips You Should Embrace Now

Google Analytics just keeps getting better and better as far as I’m concerned and marketers that use this free tool need to get better and better at understanding what it can tell you.

On a side note, anytime Google improves a free tool they are probably getting ready to offer a paid version. Quite frankly the tool is worth paying for if you take advantage of the many ways to slice and dice your data.

Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnels

Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnels

You have to move beyond tracking site and page visits and get to the data that can actually help you make better marketing decisions.

On top of learning how to improve your conversions, when you understand the meaning behind your marketing data, you can gain a far greater understanding of everything about your business.

Google Analytics has steadily added more features that can help you create and track conversion goals and paths to conversion on your site. They’ve added real-time, social and mobile data reports so you can analyze traffic and conversion from just about every dimension. (Keep up with Analytics blog)

Below are five somewhat new functions that I think are worth taking the time to understand.

1) Multi-Channel Funnels

Multi-Channel Funnel Reports are a great way to get a handle on how your entire inbound marketing effort is doing. Once set up these reports tell you what channels customers interacted with during the 30 days before conversion or purchase.

This can effectively allow you to see a complete picture of the steps your customers take before purchasing or converting. This way you can identify time lags and friction as well as identify your most effective channels.

This is also a great way to better understand the value of social media, for example, as you can view how Twitter may have assisted in the path to conversion, even if it started with a Google Ad.

Here’s a nice tutorial on Multi Channel Funnel set-up.

2) Mobile Stats

I’ve been pushing for mobile themes and flexible design for some time now and my view is the tremendous growth in smaller tablets is going to push this beyond mandatory.

My site currently receives about 12% of its visits via mobile devices, including iPads. This is up 30% over comparison to just April of this year.

Google Analytics has a mobile tab and you must start paying attention to current state and growth state of mobile on your site as you determine what mobile-based enhancements you make to your site and marketing in general.

One tip for watching growth: You can compare one date range to another by dropping down the date range function in the upper right corner and clicking the compare box.

3) Search Engine Optimization

Another potentially valuable report is the Search Engine Optimization Report found in your Traffic Sources tab. You’ll need to integrate your Google Webmaster Tools account with Google Analytics to access this. If you have a Webmaster account Google will ask you to allow access, if you don’t you’ll need to set one up, which you certainly should for a variety of other reasons.

This report gives you some insight into how well your site is ranking for specific keyword phrases. It shows you the search volume for the term, how much traffic you are receiving, the impressions and the average position you hold for the term.

My experience is this is a bit wonky as it averages many things, but it’s not a bad way to find terms that you might want to work a little harder at optimizing your site for. This also a great place to do some comparison date ranges to see the impact of your SEO tweaks.

4) Social Conversion Goals

Not too long ago Google integrated social tracking into the Analytics suite to provide a fuller range of information regarding social network activity.

In addition to tracking how much traffic you are receiving from the various networks, you can build conversion goals for each network and see, for example, how many Twitter visitors sign up for your newsletter.

Out of the box Google tracks any +1 activity to and from your site, but if you want to add other plugins, such as Likes and InShares, you’ll need to do a little work to get these tracked properly. Here’s the tutorial on setting up Google Analytics with Social Plugins.

5) Real-Time Visits

The last report to cover today is Real-Time. This is accessed through the Home tab and Real-Time tab. This report, as the name suggests, shows you what is going on in real-time. Data from most reports in Google Analytics lags a day or more behind.

You can see how many visitors are currently on your site, top social sources, top active pages and top referral sources.

This data can be a bit distracting if you become obsessed with watching it, but the real reason I like it is that if I check it a couple times a day and I identify when a high traffic or profile site has linked to one of my blog posts and perhaps jump on over and add some comments while the conversation is fresh.

It’s also a nice way to monitor the impact of a campaign or even email newsletter click through in real time.

There’s much to learn in this category and, while it can sometimes feel like Calculus, it’s where the really smart marketers go to get better at their craft. I’m a big fan of the books by Avinash Kaushik and you may also want to grab this eBook – Google Analytics Integrations.

1 How and Why to Create Smarter Content

For several years now people like me have been advising you to create educational content as a foundational element of your marketing – and many of you have listened and profited.

Smart Content

law_keven via Flickr CC

But, and you knew this was coming; it’s no longer enough. Now that pretty much everyone gets that content is a must, it’s time to send your content creation and distribution to school to get smarter and more sophisticated.

The technology that gives you the ability to tailor your web content to the more specific needs and attributes of individual visitors exists right now and is very affordable.

Smart marketers are using these tools to deliver entirely different web page, message, offer and browsing experiences tied to the history and known data of the visitor.

It just makes complete sense that someone that comes to your site by way of a very specific search term, for example, would respond better to content that specifically addresses why he or she came in the first place, rather than the default home page experience.

Starts with analytics

The engine that drives the smart content experience is data. To gain full access to this level of personalization you must use a tool such as Google Analytics or Spring Metrics (a client) that can allow you to access publicly available data on your visitors such as IP address and location.

You can further enhance this approach by integrating CRM data as well. Imagine how powerful it would be to deliver only upsell products to current customers or special offers and discount coupon content as a way to reward customer loyalty.

Social tells story

For years I’ve followed the notion that 20% of your customers offer the opportunity to produce 80% of your most profitable work and sales. This isn’t new math, most people get this, but the trick is oftentimes it is difficult to identify the 20% simply based on their past purchase behavior.

I believe that social media offers us one of the greatest opportunities to identify those 20% based on a layer of influence, sharing and activity. A seemingly small client, in terms of purchasing from you at the moment, may be your greatest referral source if treated as such. Adding the social layer of data allows you to put metrics to that assumption.

What would happen if, for instance, you were able to determine a customer visiting your site had a high Klout score and therefor equipped them with content, context and offers that made it easy for them to talk about you. We all know hotshot online folks that get all kinds of free stuff in hopes that they will talk about their experience. What if your content on your site could automate that for even the smallest business?

Location based content

In my mind, there are several very obvious uses for smart content. One of the first is location based. Imagine if you had a business with offices in a couple cities. What if you could deliver the hometown office info to visitors by city?

Services such as Get Smart Content are springing up to make this a very simple thing to do at the full page or even page region level. Imagine if you were holding an event in a specific community and wanted every visitor to your site from that community to get a sales message for that event while people from everywhere else got another message. Now you can.

Segment based content

Many businesses successfully sell multiple market segments that have very different needs. Imagine how powerful it could be to deliver market segment content based on how a visitor came to your site.

Get Smart Content founder Jim Eustace showed me a mini case study for truck dealership that sells a line of very green electric delivery vehicles as well as traditional commercial trucks. They found that it was rather easy to distinguish, through search queries, the very different content needed by these two market segments.

Cycle based content

By adding CRM type of data to the measurement mix you can customize content delivery on your site based on the history of a prospect. Someone that has come back to your site after requesting a free eBook by filling out a form or clicking on a link is probably ready for different information or even very specific product or service information based on their past activity.

There is no magic wand one can wave to make this work for every business. It is certainly a trial, test and refine project that will get it wrong from time to time, but even simple enhancements to what content gets featured and when can dramatically impact the initial and ongoing experience for your visitor and allow you to use content as a clear competitive point of differentiation.

6 Always Be Testing

Testing just might be the small business marketers greatest tool – and yet, so few take the time to do it at all. The arguments against robust testing are all but gone – cost is not a factor, lack of tools is not a factor and certainly the Internet has made information about testing readily available.

Always Be TestingBryan Eisenberg, author of Always Be Testing, visited with me about this very thing for a recent episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

Testing does not have to be an arduous task. You can easily use a free tool like Google Website Optimizer to test the effectiveness of one headline or offer from another. You can add Google Analytics to your web pages to get a better feel for how people view your pages. You can access the workforce of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or UserTesting.com and get usability testing done on your web pages.

There are more advanced tools such as Omniture’s SiteCatalyst, but as Bryan points out and I agree, figure out a bit about testing and what works with the free tools and then move up to more advanced power tools – it’s likely they will pay for themselves.

AT&TThis episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by att.com/onwardsmallbiz. Resources for the small business owner.

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9 Is There a Magic Metric?

There are many ways to analyze web traffic and web effectiveness. In fact, there are so many ways that most small business marketers can get overwhelmed pretty quickly.

The first step of course is to begin the practice of measuring and analyzing your web site’s effectiveness so that you can improve it. The easiest way to accomplish this is to install and use the free Google Analytics tool.

Once you this you can start to understand and tweak the many things it can measure. While there is no one metric that is the golden key, I suggest you start by gaining a full understanding of what Google calls bounce rate.

Bounce rate represents the average percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site. So, for the most part this is often referred to a the measure of a site’s stickyness. It can give you some clues as to whether or not your content is grabbing folks or not. It can also help you understand if your ads are targeting the right traffic.

There is no perfect bounce rate number, but aiming for 50% – meaning 50% of the visitors to your site take an action leading to another page, is probably a good target. The real goal of course is designing a site and pages that allow you to lower the bounce rate. Before you ever really worry about generating all kinds of traffic and winning key search phrases, get you content sticky!

The following video of Avinash Kaushik, Google Analytics Evangelist and author of the blog Occam’s Razor helps shed some light on the bounce rate metric.

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18 Your Favorite Web Things

The managing editor of a publication asked me to identify my favorite web tools for small business and I thought that sounded like a tremendous thing to ask you too.

Give me your top 5 favorite web sites or tools.

web tools

Here’s mine at the minute!

  1. Google Reader – read all my favorite blogs on my mobile browser
  2. Friend Feed – see and search the social activities of my community in real time (you can even know what music I listened to today)
  3. Jott – record phone message and have it sent as email message to myself or my contacts
  4. del.icio.us – great source of content ideas and view into what’s popular today
  5. Google Analytics – I’m hooked on those page overlays