Happy 2020! As I do at the beginning of each year, I’ve been deep-diving into important Google updates, exciting online marketing opportunities and seeking out new ideas that I think will assist my clients to achieve greater success online.
Below is a summary of what I believe will help your business start the year with a competitive advantage and continue throughout 2020, as follows :
- Google releases BERT, its biggest update in 5 years.
- Is your Google My Business (Local) listing up to date?
- Social Listening – Connect with potential customers in real-time.
Google is constantly making updates and tweaks to the algorithm that determines how websites are displayed and ranked in the search results. In November 2019, Google released BERT which has been dubbed their biggest update in the past 5 years.
What is Google BERT?
In tech terms, BERT is a Natural Language Processing (NPL) model that helps Google better understand natural human language and conversational queries in order to serve more relevant search results to users. This is a huge leap forward making Google search results more about intent matching rather than pure string matching.
In layman’s terms, BERT means Google will better understand the context of searches in more human terms based on all the words in a search phrase rather than one-by-one, in order.
This way BERT can figure out the full context of a search query bi-directionally, that is, by looking at all words that come before and after.
According to Google data, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.
Statistics like this confirm how important it is for businesses that work with local customers must ensure their website ranks for local keywords and that their Google My Business (Local) listing is appearing in the Google Maps search results.
According to Google, the position of a Google My Business (Local) listing is based on:
- Relevancy : How well a local listing matches the searcher’s keywords and search query;
- Distance : How far the business is from the searcher’s location; and
- Prominence : How well known the business is. This can relate to how well known the business is in the offline world, the businesses “authority” across the internet, number of good/bad reviews, and where their website is positioned in the local search results.
In some cases, Google may determine that a business further away from the searcher’s geographic location is actually more relevant to the search query or criteria, and rank them higher in the local search results. This is another reason why it’s important your Google My Business information is up to date as you can rank very well for a much wider geographic area.
To ensure you’re local listing is adhering to Google’s preferences I have summarised below things you can do to ensure your business listing appears more frequently.
Have you ever noticed a specific business, person or, worse, one of your competitors, is always popping up answering questions asked online on social media, online forums or other websites?
Have you wondered how they stay across all these platforms at all hours of the day and night? Do they ever sleep? Have they got a team of minions monitoring every social media platform and online forum trawling for questions relating to their industry, products and/or services?
Probably not. My guess is they’re using social listening software to track conversations relating to their industry, products and/or services.
What is social listening?
Social listening is the process of using a tool or software that listens to what is being said (or typed) online across a wide range of platforms and websites. After entering your chosen keywords into the tool, you’re sent a notification whenever these words are mentioned online. I haven’t used it personally yet but it’s favoured by internet giants such as Amazon.
Below I have provided a few scenarios that might better explain how small businesses can benefit from social listening tools.
A dog trainer can monitor posts on Facebook that mention keywords relating to his/her business, for example, “dog”, “behaviour”, “problem”, “barking”, “solution”, etc. Upon receiving a notification that someone has typed a post using these keywords, the dog trainer can quickly review the post and respond accordingly – hopefully converting the person into a customer – even attract multiple, new customers as other dog owners are likely to be following the same thread.
A company that sells environmentally friendly clothing might monitor an online forum for keywords such as “organic”, “clothing”, “recommendations”, “environmentally friendly”, “Australian made”, etc. Upon receiving a notification that someone has posted a question asking for recommendations on quality, Australian-made clothing, they can respond quickly and direct the potential customer to their website.
A consultant who assists small businesses to reduce expenditure might monitor LinkedIn for keywords such as “business accountants”, “small business financial advice”, “reduce business expenses”. Upon receiving a notification that someone has posted a question to the LinkedIn community using these keywords, the consultant could directly reach out to the business owner by commenting on the post or via a direct message.
Social listening can also be used to gain a greater insight into your potential customer’s likes and dislikes, their buying habits, what they’re saying about your products and your competitor’s products, and so much more.
You don’t have to just listen out for what potential customers are saying but can track your competitors by using keywords relating to their business name, products, services, etc.
Have you got questions about Google BERT and the other 2020 internet marketing tips outlined above?
If you want more information about what you should be doing to ensure your website, SEO and online marketing is equipped to excel in 2020, call me direct and we can discuss the unique needs of your business.