By: Richard J. Roll, Founder, ReadySetBoom.com

Google Merging With Your Local Business Means Your Online Marketing Reputation Will Now Make You or Break You


 

There is breaking news you need to know that should have been reported on page 1 of every local newspaper and on the 11 o’clock News, but it wasn’t. So I’m here to tell you today about How Google Actually Merged With Your Website and You Didn’t Even Know It.

Whenever I speak to groups of local business owners around the country, I often start by asking: “How many of you believe right now that Google is fundamentally a force for the good?” About half the people raise their hands.

“And, do you feel that Google has been a help to your business?” A few more raise their hands.

“And how many of you are still wishing the internet would just go away already?” That usually produces a knowing chuckle.

Okay, well maybe Google’s perspective is different than what yours and mine might be, but that’s all part of what we will be looking at in this chapter.

Even though Google is quite secretive about a lot of the specific things they do, there is a way we can read between the lines and learn a lot about their perspective just by reading what they themselves have posted publicly.

We know that Google’s stated mission is to organize all the world’s information, and make it easy, fast, and reliable to find exactly what you’re looking for. So far so good. But how they do that—and they really don’t care what you and I think about it—how they do that is what we’re going to concern ourselves with.

There’s a page right on the Google.com site called “10 Things We Know to Be True,” and let’s read what it says:

 

Excerpted from https://www.google.com/intl/en-US/about/company/philosophy/

Google, In Its Own Words: “Ten things we know to be true”

Google first wrote these “10 things” when Google was just a few years old. In their words, “From time to time we revisit this list to see if it still holds true. We hope it does—and you can hold us to that.”

″1.    Focus on the user and all else will follow.

Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Placement in search results is never sold to anyone, and advertising is not only clearly marked as such, it offers relevant content and is not distracting. And when we build new tools and applications, we believe they should work so well you don’t have to consider how they might have been designed differently.

2.    It’s best to do one thing really, really well.

We do search. Our hope is to bring the power of search to previously unexplored areas, and to help people access and use even more of the ever-expanding information in their lives.

3.    Fast is better than slow.

We know your time is valuable, so when you’re seeking an answer on the web you want it right away–and we aim to please.

4.    Democracy on the web works.

Google search works because it relies on the millions of individuals posting links on websites to help determine which other sites offer content of value. We assess the importance of every web page using more than 200 signals and a variety of techniques, including our patented PageRank™ algorithm, which analyzes which sites have been “voted” to be the best sources of information by other pages across the web. As the web gets bigger, this approach actually improves, as each new site is another point of information and another vote to be counted.

5.    You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.

The world is increasingly mobile: people want access to information wherever they are, whenever they need it.

6.    You can make money without doing evil.

Google is a business. The revenue we generate is derived from offering search technology to companies and from the sale of advertising displayed on our site and on other sites across the web.

Through innovation and iteration, we aim to take things that work well and improve upon them in unexpected ways.

We take a stand against deceptive Internet software.

So, how does Google make its money? Pretty much everyone knows by now Google makes its money by selling pay-per-click advertising.

Now, when Google started, it had one first page of search results—one “page 1” of results for just about any conceivable term or word that people could want to search for. So of course your and everyone else would want to be found on that front page. But Google started figuring out complex rules to decide who should be found in the free search results on that front page, for a given search term or word.

Because even though Google makes its money by selling pay-per-click advertising placed next to those free search results listings, as well as above them, Google only gets paid when people click on those ads. And it soon became clear that if you rank #1 on the free search results listings that come up on that first page of Google, you’d get on average 41% of all the clicks that anyone will click on the entire page. People started figuring out ways to get on that #1 ranking, and Google started fighting back to prevent wrongful manipulation of the results.

So far so good—but what about the Breaking News?

Well, about two years ago, Google started playing around with something called Google Places. This was a local type of Google search that was going to be tied in locally like a local Yellow Pages concept online. And it was kind of a mediocre idea that didn’t take off. There was no smart way to really scale it.

But then they had a big “AHA!” A little over a year ago, they realized, “What if we had a different local page 1 for every local category people want to search for in every town! Instead of thousands of Page 1’s, we would have hundreds of thousands or millions! Now, instead of having one page 1 of search results for “dentists,” we can have thousands of page 1’s, a different page 1 for “dentists” in every town in America!

Except for one problem: How do we know which dentists should be on page 1 of the free search results for each town?

So they had another “AHA!” We’ll use our algorithms and machines to identify which are the 7 local businesses that should be on page 1 in each category.

And that brings us to our Breaking News. What Google did is it figured out a whole system that scours and categorizes billions of pieces of digital data and points of information, that it calls “signals of authority,” in order to verify the most desirable search results it believes a local Google user should see. And over the past 24 months it has created a huge interlocking set of variables and data sharing arrangements with directory listings and social media sites that are changing the way local businesses and professional practices are going to be found, ranked, and seen, forever! Today Google knows where you are, and knows where your computer is. And its knowledge gets more and more accurate every day, because of what you do online and the data sharing agreements it has with every major social media site like Facebook and Linked In. Google knows who you are, and knows every search you’ve done, and where you are, anywhere in the world. Google knows if your business has updated its website content recently, and that also goes into the ranking equation.

Answer this question (it’s a trick question): Do you think that Social Media is basically just a toy for kids or for people who have a lot of time on their hands?

 The right answer is, “Not anymore.” Because now that Google has taken over the rules, they have created a set of interlocking factors, criteria and algorithms which determine your business’s online visibility and the quality of your online reputation from here on out. This trend will almost certainly contribute to whether your business will grow, or shrink, or even live or die, over the near future. With the growth of mobile (now making up 60% of all searches), even someone who’s just searching for your address or phone number can see all the bad reviews in directory listings and Google+ about your business—they can just turn around and never look back.

 Google is looking for signals that your local professional practice, business, franchise, or chain has expertise, recognition, authority, and real 5-Star reviews. They’re looking to see regular content updates, social media posts, accurate and consistent listings in directories like Yahoo, Yelp, and YellowPages.com, and even TripAdvisor.com. They’re looking for 5-Star Reviews and 5-Star Ratings—and they must be authentic reviews—posted directly by your customers, clients and patients. Even one bad review from one disgruntled customer can cause a lot of lost business, which is the biggest Breaking News here: the advent of Reputation Marketing.

The only strategy to make sure your business will thrive is to build a 5-Star Reputation, market that reputation, and maintain that reputation through ongoing staff training as part of your employee/workplace culture. You can either ride on the top of this wave, or be swamped by it. But the biggest Breaking News in local business in 100 years is not going to go away. It is here to stay: the online Reviews and Reputation Economy is here to stay. The only question to ask now is: What are you going to do about it?


 RICHARD J. ROLL, Founding Partner of ReadySetBOOM.com, and author of the new book, 7 Rules for Business Prosperity in the New Economy

Richard J. Roll is an accomplished entrepreneur, marketer, and consumer advocate who has appeared regularly on CNN, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal Report, Money Magazine, and The New York Times.  As a best-selling author, futurist, and advocate on retirement issues facing Baby Boomers and their children, he has a passion for helping owners of local professional practices, businesses, and franchises to grow their businesses in the new economy for a more secure future.  A graduate of Brown University and the Harvard Business School, he published two best-selling books on retirement planning and personal finance which are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com.  He is married with two children and lives in Fairfield, CT, where he has served on the board of the Fairfield Theatre Company and also as a volunteer trail marshall for the Annual CT Challenge bikeathon for cancer survivorship.

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