Any company that doesn't understand the importance of Google has either been operating under a rock for the past 10 years or doesn't have a need to do business on the internet. Organizations surely realize, whether they engage in search engine optimization strategies or not, that Google is in many ways the key to cost-effectively reaching consumers and raising one's own brand awareness.
However, the importance of showing up at or near the top of search engine results is only part of the puzzle when it comes to inbound marketing techniques. In addition to connecting customers to literal matches for their searches, Google is a powerful tool that sifts through meta-data to give users answers to their questions. Here are some ways to make sure that Google knows everything about a small business and can share it with consumers.
Location, location, location
Many consumers who visit a new city or venture out of their typical comfort zones use Google quite a bit to find coffee shops, dry cleaners, banks, insurance offices and other essential businesses. Their main tactic in aid of this is performing a Google search. If they're unaware of the name or existence of a nearby company, they'll likely perform a search that is something like "coffee shop Union Square" or "savings bank Williamsburg."
This is important for small businesses because it stresses the importance of registering on Google Places as well as liberally including a company's physical address on its website. Otherwise, other companies will be reaping the reward of such customer searches no matter how good an SEO strategy for particular keywords has been.
If there is any ambiguity to the name, location or identity of a local company on sites such as Yelp! or FourSquare, businesses can consider any Google searches for those organizations to be futile. After all – while there are some solid users of these commercial social media platforms out there, for the most part people count on Google to take them to reviews of companies. Consequently, if those services don't recognize that a search engine query for an organization is directed at a particular company, no one will.
It may not seem like a hugely important detail, but the sheer fact that Google's autofill feature is getting better and better everyday has caused more and more consumers to rely on it. After all – when someone starts to type a word and is quickly rewarded with the full version of it, they're likely to appreciate the extra step that they didn't have to perform. Customers can lose confidence in the importance or quality of an establishment if, upon typing in the first half of a company's name, Google doesn't jump to recommend the full version for them.