Google is not just a search company. It's a media company. And it's not just a media company; it's the biggest media company in the world.
That's why marketers who focus their organic search strategy on improving their keyword rankings have fallen behind the curve. Getting on the first page of Google results for "Dallas PR firms," for example, is a good thing -- but should only be one component of a far more comprehensive strategy to enhance your company's search presence.
Understanding and leveraging each of the following Google products and features are key to evolving from a traditional SEO approach to a modern search presence strategy:
- Google My Business
- Google Knowledge Panel
- Google Maps
- Google Reviews
- Google Featured Snippets
- Google Featured Videos
- Google Interesting Finds
- Google Popular Products
We'll now take a look at each of these in more depth; click on any of the links above if you'd like to jump ahead to a specific product or feature.
Google My Business (GMB)
When people search for your brand by name, think of that first page of results as your "second home page," with your GMB information box as its centerpiece. GMB is a must for any business with physical locations customers can visit. Or as Google puts it:
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. To help customers find your business, and to tell them your story, you can verify your business and edit your business information.
You can begin building your GMB presence by creating a free Google Business Profile. Submit your business name, location, and category. Once Google confirms it's you, your profile will be created; you can create a profile wherever you have a physical business location. You can add photos, events and other updates to make your profile stand out. Google also lets consumers add feedback, reviews, photos, ask questions, and even provide answers to certain questions about your business.
Google Knowledge Panel
In addition to the GMB profile, which you control, Google may choose to create a knowledge panel on your company, product or executives. This information box can be claimed by you, but the content is controlled by Google. It might come from your own website, a news article or Wikipedia. Much like a Wikipedia entry or social media verification, earning a Google knowledge panel signals notability. While a GMB profile will only display in places where your business has a physical location, your knowledge panel can appear whenever anyone anywhere searches for you.
When you search for a business, the top three local results will appear with a map that includes your location, office hours, phone number and link to your website. Securing your place in this "Google 3-Pack" is great for trust and even better for traffic.
According to Google, over 46% of all searches have local intent. While a Google Search is effective when searching for a local business’ proximity to their location, most people use Google Maps to locate local businesses. When you create a Google My Business listing, your business will begin appearing in Google Maps searches. This allows people to instantly see in what proximity you are to their location, increasing their chances of visiting you.
Google reviews and star ratings appear in Google My Business and Google Maps results, making them arguably the most visible reviews of your company online. Research shows that your business’ site traffic will increase or decrease based on the feedback received, so it's important to manage them proactively -- encouraging your customers to post reviews and responding to all reviews, whether positive, negative or mixed. Set up alerts to be notified whenever a new review appears.
Google Featured Snippets
When you earn a featured snippet, your website is not only the top search result, but an excerpt from your website is prominently displayed. This confers authority on your brand. Snippets provide answers to a particular question by extracting relevant information from top-ranking pages. Your snippet might appear as a list (these are very common -- see one from the Trust Signals site below), a paragraph (often used for a definition of a term), or a table (great for stat-driven questions).
Google Featured Videos
Perhaps the only more prominent search placement than a featured snippet is a featured video -- a snippet that pulls a video from your website, YouTube or elsewhere online. It's the holy grail for visibility and authority on a topic. Pro tip: "how to" videos have a high likelihood of appearing as featured videos when searchers are looking to complete a household chore or solve another problem. Here's a screencap of what comes up first when you Google "how to install a lock:"
Google Interesting Finds
The organic "Interesting Finds" module is a search feature for mobile Google users that pops up high on the first page in search results. What pages are "interesting" to Google? Google's algorithm typically looks to showcase articles that aren't the most direct response to the searcher's query but that may spur you to explore related topics or questions.
Google Popular Products
Google identifies "Popular Products" from online retailers to display them in a single spot, allowing people to filter by the category, style, and size type. This feature allows online retailers to more easily display their products on Google search results pages. The listings link to the social platforms of the merchants. Google indexes and lists the products displayed on the basis of relevancy from more than a million online shops. Popular Products is a part of a major effort by Google to improve product search experiences due to high competition from other marketplaces and social media platforms.
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