How Others See Your Business Online Is Different Than What You See

Most NH Businesses we talk with falsely believe that what they see about their business online is the same as what others are seeing. Unfortunately, that’s not actually the case.

What you see (as the business owner), is most likely NOT what your customers and prospects see when searching out your products and services online. 

Not understanding this, can lead to a lot of false security when it comes to securing your online presence.

How Other's See Your Business Online Is Most Likely Different Than What You See

First off – it’s important to note that the vast majority of all internet traffic comes from two sources – Facebook and Google. People go to Google to buy (in mostly all cases), not Facebook. So to keep this simple, let’s focus on Google, but realize that these concepts apply to all websites and customer experiences online.

The first thing to realize is that Google uses a lot of information to determine what results it’s going to show to someone searching for your products or services. For an example, let’s say you own a plumbing company (this is irrelevant – it would be the same for a restaurant, a clothing store, a brewery etc.).

Your prospective customer nowadays is most likely looking for your product or service on the go, so they’re very likely on a mobile device. So, here are a few things to realize:

Most of us are connected to services that track our online activities – and most browsers are synced across devices so…

Google knows your search history, interests and behavior, and it’s going to do its best to show you the most relevant results possible – based on YOU.

The days of non-tailored search results are long behind us. It’s critically important to understand this.

Keep in mind as well, that on your phone (or any device for that matter), your search query also includes information about your current location, and Google most likely knows your home location too – so it takes that into consideration when returning search results.

So if you’re this business owner, and you’re currently at home, and you do a search for ‘plumber near me’ – the results you see will be served up based on your history, location etc. You may not even see your business if you’re IP address signals Google that you’re not in a typical service radius for your business. Or – the opposite may happen: you may see your business (even if you shouldn’t), because Google knows that you visit your website all the time, and have a search history that indicates you’re interested in the business. And as the owner, you definitely do have an interest in your business – so in Google’s eyes they should show your listing – but that doesn’t mean just because you saw it, that a prospective customer will.

Hopefully this is making sense. The main point here is that what you see when searching out your business is NOT what your prospective customers are likely seeing.

Check out this brief video for a super high level overview of tailored search results.

So – how DO you control what your customers are seeing? Let’s talk about that:

Staying focused on Google here – let’s start by understanding how a search result page is displayed.

There are 3 major sections to a search result page:

  1. The Paid Ads at the very top of the page (and also at the bottom of the page)
  2. The Maps Listings / Google Business Listings (for relevant industries)
  3. The Organic Listings

For each of these sections, you can control how and when you show up to some degree. As a general rule:

The farther down the page you get, the less control you have. And here’s why…

The top placements are ‘pay to play’. These top placements are typically AdWords listings – and with AdWords, you can tell Google to show your ads to people based on some very specific criteria: specific keywords, specific locations, specific times of day etc. – the options here are many, but the point is – you get to tell Google: “I want to show up under these very specific conditions, and I’m willing to pay for top of page placement because I know these are my best customers, and I need to get in front of them before my competition.”

The Google Business Listings are a bit more difficult, but there are definitely some things you can do to control who sees these by optimizing your listing for specific keywords; by getting more reviews; and by controlling your NAP information across the web – so Google gives you preferred placement. Only three businesses typically get to show on page one – the rest are buried in the ‘More Listings’ section – so you want to be a top placement.

And below these, there are the organic listings. And here you have even less control, but with a smart strategic SEO (Search Engine Optimization), campaign, you can give Google solid indicators of who you’d like to show for, where and when.

Ok – hopefully you’re still with me here.

So far, we’ve established that you have more control over how, where and when your business appears in search results as you focus on paid ads, then the business listings, and then the organic listings. And we encourage most businesses to approach owning page one in that order.

Now, here’s an important thing to take away here:

Although Google tries to provide a completely tailored search experience for users based on their preferences and history –

You can GREATLY influence those results when you leverage AdWords, optimize your Google Business Page, and when you’re strategic with your SEO efforts.

But this has to be done intentionally – it doesn’t happen by accident.

You Must Be Strategic About Your Online Marketing Strategy For Your Small Business

And a few other important points:

If you’re not investing in marketing your business through paid ads, you have little to no chance of ‘overriding’ the results Google will return, and you’re going to lose to your competition because they will show up before your business.

And here’s the thing… nowadays people trust Google more than they trust themselves (after all – Google is pretty smart).

And they want to make decisions quickly – and then get on with their day. So that means, in our example – I’m going to call the first reputable plumber that comes up on page one. And if I get through, and they can help me right away – I’m done searching. The businesses lower on the page don’t stand a chance.

They don’t even get to play in the game – you don’t get to compete.

Same thing with the Business Listings –

If you haven’t done the work to capture one of the top placements, you’re not going to win – plain and simple.

And if you’re doing SEO – again, you need a solid, well thought out strategy if you plan to win. Your strategy needs to have a clear picture of exactly who you want to show up for – where you want to show up for etc. As an example, if you service Nashua and surrounding areas – your keyword strategy needs to indicate that to Google. Afterall, what good is it for you to show up when someone in Boston does a search for ‘plumber near me’, if you don’t service their area? It’s a complete waste of your marketing budget.

Remember, we’re all ‘lazy searchers’ now, because we know Google knows where we are. A typical search nowadays is more likely to look like this on a mobile phone: ‘plumber’ and then they hit enter. Google then looks at where the searcher is (and other related info), to show them a plumber that is most likely to service their location. So you need to do your part to let Google know what areas you service – where you’re located etc.

None of this is magic – but yet… it is. Strategy here is everything.

If you’re not investing in any of these strategies, there’s no way you can win

– and there’s no way you can know with any level of certainty, how your business shows up (or if it even does), for people who would (should), be your newest customers.

On the other hand however – if you are investing in more than one of these strategies, your chances of winning multiply. It has an exponential effect, because in each case, you’re providing more data to Google, to let them know who you should show up for; when and where you should show up; and you’re giving Google confidence that your business is a good fit for very specific types of people.

When Google’s confidence increases, your business shows up more frequently and for more of the right people – and everyone wins.

Google’s users have a better experience (so they keep coming back to Google when they need something), and your business gets more customers. Simple.

So… the lesson here is simple: make sure you’re actively taking the necessary steps to help Google gain confidence in who should see your business; what products and/or services you should show up for; what areas you service; and any other triggers that show Google you’re a legit business with your customers best interests in mind (i.e. you have lots of positive reviews; you have a solid presence on other industry specific or social sites etc.). Do this and your chances of winning increase exponentially.

There are also some specific methods and tools we use to determine how and where you’re currently showing up online.

If you’re an established NH Business and would like some additional visibility into your current online presence, I'd encourage you to claim your Free Online Visibility Report by clicking the button below. We'll have results for you in just a few days.

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