How to Improve Your Success with Google in 2014

How to Improve Your Success with Google in 2014

I tell marketing people at body shops all the time that if you pay attention to Google and stay on top of its periodic algorithm updates, you’ll be way ahead of the game. It may not sound that important, but when you think about the fact that every website in the world is affected by Google in one way or another, you can see that those who know how to use it right will obviously have a distinct advantage over their competition.

Google’s incarnations (or releases) come with little or no warning and every time Google updates itself, it’s an attention-getter for anyone who works with the Internet. Named after animals (first there was Penguin and then there was Panda) these updates revolve around the fact that Google wants to reward sites that offer value while penalizing those that contain spam and irrelevant content. The newest update is called Hummingbird and it’s been buzzing in every webmaster’s ears since it was released nearly six months ago.

This summer, Google explained their newest update in a simple paragraph: “Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query—the whole sentence or conversation or meaning—is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

Some people will always try to beat the system and fool Google with “black-hat” tactics, but in the end they’re like the IRS. You may get away with using text that you’re “borrowing” from other sites for a while and do other shady things to rank highly in local searches, but in the end, the party’s over.  And Google is not like the American justice system—no one is innocent until proven guilty and they could care less about reasonable doubt.

But, do not fear—if you hire a respectable webmaster with a good track record that performs honest SEO relevant to your business and adhering to Google’s rules, you’ll be fine online.  One company that’s been doing exceptional work for both mechanical and collision businesses online is Ring Ring Marketing in San Jose, CA. Their motto is “We Make Your Phone Ring” and they specialize in working with small to medium-size companies.
Welton Hong, the COO at Ring Ring Marketing offered us some valuable tips on how body shops can use Google effectively in this new Hummingbird environment.  “To optimize an auto body shop website for Google Hummingbird, consider adding more real-world, question-specific queries into your site content,” Hong said. “This could be in the form of blog posts, FAQs and more.”

In the end, Google still values and respects original content and quality links over anything else. Any time you’re going to post something on your web site or blog, ask yourself this—is it of real value to my customers? Make certain that you’re creating content that is relevant to your audience and then integrate it into all of your social media. Increase your exposure and build your brand by positioning yourself as an expert in collision and getting the word out through to the local media, including radio, TV, print and the Internet. And post different types of content to enhance your SEO and create more opportunities to engage your audience—especially video, according to Hong.

“Add more relevant video content to your site,” he said. “It's much harder for Google to generate this sort of content in response to inquiries, so this type of material will be insulated, at least for now, from the negative effects of Hummingbird.”
Other Google-related things to consider this year:

●    Ride the Google+ Train: Google rewards companies that use their products and this is one of their leading products. Too many body shops set up Google+ accounts in 2013 and did nothing else. Tell your marketing people that you want to use Google+ more and devise a plan.

●    Going Mobile: The Internet is going more mobile every day, so get on the ball and be a part of it. Google wants you to make your site optimized for mobile users to attract mobile visitors. Right now, half of all Americans (and every 13-year-old girl out there) own smartphones and one-third own tablets. The number is going to grow at an explosive rate, so get mobile of get lost. “Make sure your site is as mobile-friendly as possible,” Hong explained. “Hummingbird is designed for mobile users. Mobile visitors are quickly outnumbering desktop visitors. You must focus your efforts here.”

●    Some Appetizing Google Apps: I use Google Docs every day, because it enables me to share documents easily with others, via my desktop, laptop or smartphone. It saves time, because users can check in whenever and wherever. Also consider Evernote (a great note-taking app) and of course, Gmail and Dropbox. Google tweaked and improved both of these applications in 2013, making them easier to use and full of new functionality.

Whether working on a vehicle or coordinating your marketing efforts, it’s all about having the best tools available and knowing how to use them. Google has literally 50-plus business tools to make you more effective and profitable in 2014 and beyond. So tap into the Google universe and learn which ones are best-suited for you.

But, most importantly, learn the Hummingbird update and discover its nuances and capabilities. Make Google a bigger part of your marketing plan this year and plug away at creating a significant presence there. Because Google is here to stay and the shops that use it correctly will reap huge benefits over time. Be patient and stick to your plan and pretty soon you‘ll hear the phone ringing, followed by those wonderful words, “We found you on Google!”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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