When most of us think of Google, we tend to focus almost exclusively on the Google search engine. If we are bloggers or online marketers one of our primary concerns is optimizing our websites to rank high in the Google search results in order to drive more and more traffic to our websites and blogs. You should be aware though that Google has a wealth of inbound marketing tools, that largely go unnoticed, that can help you drive more traffic to your sites for both free and paid marketing. I’m talking about tools like Google Adwords, Google Places, Google News, Google Reader, Google Alerts, the Google+ Social Network, Google Analytics, and Google Docs to name a few. We will briefly examine a few of them here.
In my opinion, Google Places definitely gives you the most bang for your buck, especially since it’s FREE! It is one of the easiest ways to get your business listed on the first page of Google when people in your local area search for your type of business. Google Places will get your business found on both Google Search and Google Maps. Let’s face it, most people would be more comfortable doing business with someone in their local area than they would with someone in another state or country. You often hear that people tend to do business with those they know, like, and trust. Nothing develops trust like face-to-face contact. I think if you aren’t using this, it could be a real boon for your business. Just go to google.com/places to create your Google Places listing. Be sure to optimize it for the keywords you want people to use to find you. You should enhance your listing by adding images and videos so as to help capture your audience’s attention. You also want to be sure to provide links to your website and current contact information.
Google Adwords is the vehicle for paid advertising where you can purchase Pay-per-Click (PPC) ads. These are the ads that show up on the right-hand side, and sometimes in a shaded area at the top, of the Google Search Results page. These are known as Sponsored Links. These ads also show up on many other websites via the Google Display Network through the use of Contextual Targeting. Contextual Targeting uses your keywords and themes to find the best placements for your ads across the GDN. For example, if you are marketing vitamins, your ad can show up on certain health and wellness sites. Adwords actually has a Context Targeting Tool that allows you to create ad groups based on the keywords you enter. When it comes to the Sponsored Links, because there is so much competition for the top spots, you need to be smart about picking your keywords so that you can rank higher in the ad placement order than your competitors. Adwords has a Google Keywords Tool that can help you create a thorough keyword research strategy. You can use Google Keywords whether you are using paid (Adwords) or free marketing. There isn’t nearly enough time to adequately describe Adwords and paid strategies. You really should educate yourself about paid strategies like PPC before embarking on this type of marketing, as it could get pretty expensive if you are not careful. You should also know that about 75% of searchers will click on the organic (free) search results and only 25% of online searchers will click on the paid ads.
Google Analytics is one of a number of Google tracking tools. This one is for websites and basically provides you with a wealth of information about the visitors to your website, where they came from, how long they stayed on your site, and what actions they took while there. This also is a free service. It can provide the data you need to measure the effectiveness of your ads, capture pages, and other marketing efforts so that you can tweak your marketing to improve sales and conversions. Other tracking tools includes Adword’s Conversion Tracking and Conversion Optimizer. Conversion Tracking shows you which visitors to your site actually performed the desired actions. The Conversion Optimizer uses the Conversion Tracking data to adjust your ad placements on the Google Display Network to get your more profitable clicks at a lower cost.
Google News and Google Alerts are basically used by marketers to generate content ideas. Google News allows you to stay on top of the latest information about your industry, so that you can take advantage of the newness of the information to write a blog post about it before your competitors. Similarly, with Google Alerts you can be instantly alerted about news and messages related to keywords that interest you. So instead of monitoring Google News, you can be alerted when something that interests you comes across the wire. You can filter the alerts to limit them to the type of content you’re interested in, for example, news articles, videos, blog posts, etc. You can also get them in a daily or weekly digest if you prefer. Google Reader is similar in that it can be used to generate content ideas. You can use it to subscribe to websites, blogs, and RSS feeds so that you can stay on top of industry happenings.
Google+ aka Google Plus is a relatively new social network that can drive both search engine and social media traffic to your site. You can set up any number of circles on your profile for different categories of associates, and share content with the whole circle or select individuals within the circle on a message by message basis. Another thing you can do to increase traffic to your site is to install the +1 Button on your website. Similar to the Facebook Like Button, this button allows you to easily share links and promote results in the Google organic search results. Research of over 5,000 sites has shown that you are 3.5 times more likely to receive traffic if you have the +1 Button installed on your site. There are now also Google+ Business Pages that are relatively simple to create. Google+ Business Pages will allow you to better develop relationships with prospects and customers. There is also evidence to suggest your Business page will be more apt to show up in the Google search results, and just like any other page, you should optimize it as best you can. Google also created a Direct Connection integration between Google+ and the search engine, so that all anyone has to do is put a plus sign (+) in front of your business name in the search window, and Google will skip over the traditional search results page and go directly to your Google+ Business Page.
Again this is just a taste of what is available out in the Google universe. If you think any of these tools could help in your marketing, you owe it to yourself to do a deep dive on the tools of your choice to get more information. This is especially true if you are considering paid marketing. One thing is true when it comes to getting traffic from Google is that you will pay one way or the other to get listed. You can pay cash directly to get immediate results in the form of paid ads in the Sponsored Links and on the Google Display Network. Or you can pay with the time that it takes to create content and optimize your website or blog to be listed in the organic or free search results. Paid marketing strategies are a short-term solution that yield immediate results. Search Engine Optimizing your site for free traffic is a more long-term strategy as you can conceivably receive traffic forever organically, whereas paid marketing can only generate traffic for you as long as your budget for the marketing campaign allows. Once you stop paying, the traffic dries up. Which ever way you decide to go, I hope that this information can help you pick the right tools.
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