The Fight for Less Clicks
I’ve been thinking about this for a while and wanted to get some thoughts to paper, especially since I’m nowhere near my 1 post per month I anticipated doing at the beginning of the year.
I recently read 3 terrific articles – one from Gyi, one from Andrew Shotland at SEL and another from Jon Henshaw on Medium – and they got my mind buzzing. Google has never really been one to give away free traffic and make things easy for SEO’s. Back in the wild west of SEO, there were ways to game the system and rank a website, though G was always cutting down easy ways to rank, attempting to get people to buy Adwords and penalizing websites. The same continues today at an even more rapid pace, as easy loopholes get shutdown, more ads are placed and there is less real estate in the SERP.
As Google evolves, there is no debate digital marketers are fighting for less and less space in the SERPs. With less opportunity than in years past, there are less clicks available in Organic and Local and this is driving the cost of Ads up. Business owners understand they still need to be on Page 1, but with less opportunity, many are turning to ads. Evidence points to Adwords profits.
The SERP page is shrinking as Google continues to find additional ways to monetize Page 1. Let’s check it out. When you search for something in Google, what do you see? There are routinely 4 Adwords ads directly under your query.
If you are searching for a local service, there will be a Local Pack, if you have a well optimized Google My Business listing, following the Adwords ads.
After the Local Pack, there is usually 7-10 Organic Listings and then 4 more ads.
If you are not paying for ads, that leaves roughly 10-13 spots available on Page 1. If you’ve been paying attention to the Organic listings lately, you’ll notice many are high authority websites and directories. Could be tough to play on Page 1. Are you going to be able to compete with Yelp, Yellow Pages, AngiesList, the big corporations in your industry and your smaller, local competition?
What Does Small Business Do?
What does all of this mean for business owners? Despite the above, its not all doom and gloom. Well, if you are relying on Google for all of your business, you may be screwed. It’s time to diversify or pay the G machine its money in Adwords. And let’s face it, Adwords works if you know what you are doing (or pay someone who does). It’s why Google is making $19 billion per quarter.
What does diversify mean in digital marketing?
When I say diversify I’m talking about taking a different approach(es) than simply trying to feed the Google SERP Beast. Instead of writing content for SEO and attempting to build links, which is harder than ever now – a post for another day – focus on building your brand. How do you build your brand? You need to get involved within your community. People need to see you, recognize you, know what you and your company stand for and you need to show them often. Here are some great ways to start:
- Sign up for your local Chamber of Commerce
- Become a member of the Better Business Bureau
- Become a member of you local Rotary Clubs
- Attend community meetings often
- Speak at the meetings or host at your office
- Attend and sponsor local events such as:
- Girls Scouts
- Thanksgiving 5k’s
- Youth sports teams
- Founders days, etc
Starting to get the point? Not only will people begin to notice you and your company, you will begin to develop rapport with the community. (Pro tip: Many times, if you sponsor an event, you can ask for a link to your website which also helps build your backlink profile!)
Along the same lines of building your brand is managing your reputation. The rapport you build with people will go a long way (as long as you are not out at these events getting drunk and making a fool of yourself). Be genuine, have conversations, take an interest in others and what they are doing. Get to know their families. Maybe these people you are mingling with won’t turn into customers but you can bet they will know your name, company and what you do when their family/friend/co-worker is looking for your product.
Which leads me to my next point – use your network. Your friends, business relationships, referrals will all add to your bottom line and grow your client list.
Try your hand on various advertising and social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pintrest and Google all have advertising platforms you can potentially take advantage of. Some will cost you (Google), while others will take more refining (Facebook, LinkedIn). You will have to have different goals for each avenue you choose and each is going to produce different results. For example, if you are a lawyer, using Google Adwords is a good way to attain leads though it may cost $150 per click and $500 per lead. Is that worth it to you? In comparison, you can advertise on Facebook for less than $100 and reach several thousand people, though you probably won’t get many leads. The platforms differ, targeting differs and the goals of each should differ.
Maybe more traditional advertising routes are better suited for your area. TV, radio, newspapers, billboards, magazines and even the Yellow Pages may work within your community. These methods are more difficult to track but that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. What would a regular spot on a morning radio show do for your business or brand? Do you have the budget to crank out low cost TV commercials on a public station? There is something to be said if potential customers continually see/hear/notice your face and business all around them.
Determine Your Goals
What is your goal? To attain more leads? Brand awareness? Both? Neither? You decide. Whatever your goal, you need to set expectations on cost and return.
It shouldn’t matter how many platforms you are on or where your business is coming from. Clients/customers are what keep your business moving forward. If new clients want to pay you for your product/service, you should let them. The goal is to be top of mind so when someone is looking for what you are selling, they don’t have to turn to Google to see your competitors because you are the only person they want to work with.