If you're not already advertising with Google, it's time to get cracking! With more than 81.9 million unique visitors each month, Google.com is a huge source of potential traffic for your business. Google has a wide variety of services, tools, labs and advertising avenues that every online entrepreneur should know about--yet many people are unaware that Google is much more than "just" a search engine. So let's take a look at some of the key resources you can use to promote your online business.
Get Your Website Ranked
1. Web Search: Just showing up in your potential customers' search results is the easiest way to use Google for free advertising. To show up in the first page or two of results, you'll need to optimize your website to achieve the highest ranking possible. You may already be aware that you need to spend some time getting the right keywords on your website and increasing your "link popularity." But you might not have known that Google looks at the first block of text it encounters on your web page and uses that for the few lines displayed about your site on search result pages. So if you want to get listed and also catch the eye of your customers, make your first paragraph of text count: To be most effective, it should be roughly 300 words with about 8 percent of them being keywords.
2. Sitemaps: Google's spiders constantly index web pages, and it's impossible to predict accurately when they'll visit your site. If you've paid attention to optimizing your site for search, then they will crawl your pages. However, you can't be sure that they've indexed all your web pages--they might index just part of your site during a single visit. And since they start at the top of a page and work down, they might not even index the entire page before moving on!
One thing you can do to increase the likelihood of your entire site getting "spidered" is to submit your site to Google Sitemaps. (There are several ways to do this; for an overview, click here.) After submitting your site, Google creates and stores an XML file that allows for instant updates and indexing whenever your site's content changes. This is like having your own data cable running from your computer directly to Google!
3. AdSense: AdSense is one of the two kinds of advertising avenues Google offers. The ads generated through AdSense are third-party ads that sit on your website. The program is free for you to use and you make money each time someone clicks on an ad and moves off your site. In other words, these ads entice your visitors away from your site (bad thing), but you're compensated each time that happens (good thing).
Google matches the ads to your site by finding similarities in the keywords of each. The good news is, you can set a filter to prevent your competitors' ads from appearing on your website, and you can customize the appearance of the ads so their background color is the same as your site's, making them look more like informative content than sales pitches.
Try testing Google AdSense on your site to see if it negatively affects your traffic and sales. If it doesn't, then you've just found a new revenue stream. How much will you earn? That depends partly on how much the advertisers are paying Google for the keywords and partly on how many people click through the ads on your site. But realistically, you could earn anywhere between $0.03 and $15.00 per click--and as much as several hundred dollars a day if you have a well-optimized site that draws lots of targeted traffic.
4. AdWords: The second of Google's advertising opportunities is AdWords. These are ads that you create to promote your business and that Google places on other sites for you. There are three main places you'll see AdWord ads:
- On the right side of the page next to Google's "organic" search results
- On other sites as AdSense ads
- Alongside your e-mail messages in Gmail
When you create your AdWord ads, you're in control of how much they cost. You decide how much you're willing to pay for specific keywords in your ads, and each time your ad is clicked, you pay that amount. The amount ranges from a minimum of $0.05 to a maximum of $100, and you can set a daily budget that won't be exceeded.
Google uses the keywords you chose to help them place your ads on sites that have content relevant to yours, so you can be assured the traffic you're paying for is highly targeted. AdWords reach 80 percent of internet users, and you can define their target region and language. If you're wary about using AdWords because of the possibility of your ads appearing on sites that don't convert to sales for you, you can apply a "negative filter" when creating your ad to exclude specific sites.
As with AdSense ads, it's a good idea to test whether your advertising investment is making money for you. If the click-through traffic isn't converting to sales, if your traffic drops off, or if a particular keyword is not drawing the traffic--and sales--you'd hoped for, it's time to rework your ads.
Monitor Google--and Your Site's Google Ranking--With Other Tools
We shouldn't always take a company's word for it when it comes to what they offer. It's wise to get a second opinion or look to the experts to see what the buzz is about a company's products. Using Google is no different, and there are a large number of ways to discover who's saying what about Google's products. There are also a lot of people who provide tools and services that supplement Google's, and these, too, are worth knowing about.
Let's look at a few examples:
1. GoogleAdvisor.org: This is a blog that focuses on AdSense, AdWords and PageRank strategies. (PageRank is the Google tool you can use to gain an instant sense of your website's importance--you're assigned a rank from 0 to 10 based on how many other sites link to you and how "important" they are.) For information, tips, tricks and strategies related to Google, this site is a good first stop.
2. GoogleRankings.com: This site gives you a free tool for checking your keywords. You can enter your site's URL and get a report about your keyword density. You can then check how highly Google ranks your site for each of those keywords.
3. GoogleGuide.com: This site offers guides for both novice and experienced users. Experienced users can find out more about creating a website, including tips on PageRank, getting listed and advertising revenue.
Now that you have all the information you need to promote your business with Google, remember Google's philosophy: "Focus on the user, and all else will follow." Every step of your business should be about solving a problem for your customer. Google's services and tools will help you achieve that.