September marked the 15th anniversary of Google — doesn’t take long to take over the world anymore, does it? In honor of that auspicious anniversary, the Pew Research Center released data on personal searches. Today, a majority of us — 56 percent — Google ourselves, compared to less than 25 percent in 2001.
According to Pew, younger folks are far more likely to Google themselves than those approaching their AARP membership. That may not be surprising, but the real question the post doesn’t answer is — how many business owners or consultants Google themselves? Because if those numbers aren’t high, well, they should be. Love Google or loathe it, the search engine juggernaut is where many potential customers or clients turn to find goods or services. By working with Google, a business can boost it’s profile on the search page, and boost the chances of snagging some of that search business. A small effort goes a long way here, and it doesn’t have to cost anything. The initial basic moves are free, but they can have a big impact on your bottom line.
*Create a Google+ page. This helps people find you. The more complete your profile, the better chance you’ll have of standing out in searches. If you’ve never tried this before, Google will ask you to “claim” your business page by verifying some basic info, such as your business address. Add a photo, and other details, and when someone searches for terms that pull up your firm on Google, they will likely see highlighted information about your page as well — a bonus helping boost your work above others who didn’t claim their sites. These can also show on Google Maps. Google has an in-house page that has a pretty solid, easy-to-follow walkthrough.
*Set up alerts. Who has time to search the Web every day just to track yourself? Set up an alert to email you any mentions of yourself or your firm. This will allow you to flag any negative reviews or praise. That will also help you share your successes: with so many online articles and posts including social media buttons, it’s easy to note the write-ups across your social media. Being on top of alerts meaning flagging potentially problematic issues before they explode, and bragging about things going right — you could potentially see good news and share it across your professional networks in no more than five minutes, at most. Either way, you’ll have a finger on the pulse of what’s being said about your firm.
*Apply for a badge. With so many searches for local businesses, Google wants to award stellar proprietors with a badge of approval. There’s an application process, but doing so means you can post the badge on your site, alerting to people to the fact that you’ve been vetted. And as with everything Google, it can boost your searchability as well.
*Check keywords. Keywords are the words people type into Google search to find Web sites. If you track the common words that pertain to your business, you can then add those words to your site in order to increase the likelihood that some of those searchers will find you — in other words, boosting your search presence. How do you find those keywords? You can look for free. Sign up for Google Adsense — this is how Google handles ads, but you don’t have to pay just to sign up. The free part of Adsense allows you to check out the words that users search for most often on Google. A blog for the online accounting service Freshbooks has pretty easy-to-follow directions. It’s tricky, in that Google tries to find — and penalize — sites that stack the keywords, especially those that forsake basic English usage to do so. But it’s not hard to add an extra phrase here or there, on a page or two or three, that could maybe result in a extra few sales or clients.
Do you Google yourself, or have you claimed your business? Has it helped? Tell us your stories.