What does Google say about you? 6 tips to help beef up your online presence

1st, Jun 2020

When was the last time you googled your name? If you haven’t in a while, do it now and regularly hereafter. Studies show that over 70% of people research someone online before hiring or doing business with them. They may google you before or after contacting you to verify your credentials, learn more about you, and/or compare you to competitors. That’s why it’s essential to pay attention to what shows up in your Google results and think about how you can beef up your online presence.

1. Assess your Google results. What shows up on the first page? Presumably, your website and social media profiles will appear at the top, but what else? Are the other results on the page little more than directory listings? Is there anything that demonstrates expertise or credibility, such as articles, presentations, professional memberships, awards, media mentions and the like? Do you have any reviews or recommendations? It is not enough to ensure that bad things don’t appear in your search results, you want to make sure a lot of good things show up as well. A minimal presence can hurt you because people want to know you are active in your profession, in your community and so on.

2. Google your competitors. How are they marketing themselves? How does their online presence compare to yours? Review their Google results, website, and social media profiles. It is important to know what you are up against. However, if your competitors aren’t doing much online, don’t take that as an excuse to continue to ignore your online presence. You have an opportunity to lead the field and make everyone else catch up to you.

3. Do the easy stuff first. Your website and social media profiles are typically the first results that show in Google. Fortunately, you have complete control over what appears there and should be taking advantage of them to demonstrate the value you offer clients. Highlight your strengths, but don’t make it a marketing brochure. Instead, provide information that your prospects would find useful and interesting. It might be insights about their problem, what they can do to help themselves, and when they may need extra assistance. Blogs, articles, eBooks, newsletters, videos, podcasts, presentations, FAQs, and case studies can be added to your website and highlighted on social media to build credibility.

Also give prospects a reason to like and trust you. Tell them a little about your background, your motivation for doing the work you do, and your other interests (charitable activities, hobbies, etc.). Social media is great for this because you can be a bit more informal than on your website, just don’t go too far into the personal.

4. Develop content for third-party sites. Appearing on reputable third-party sites is invaluable because you can’t control it. The more authoritative the other website, the more it affects your credibility and search engine ranking. Start identifying a list of sites where you could provide content, such as articles and presentations. Likely sources include associations relevant to your profession (e.g., bar associations) and to your client base (industry and business groups). Consumer-oriented, community, and charitable websites may also be possibilities. In addition, reach out to contacts in complementary businesses and offer to guest blog on each other’s websites or otherwise partner on creating content to cross-promote.

5. Ask for recommendations/reviews. Contact people you know well – referral sources, colleagues, vendors, and happy clients – to ask them if they would be willing to give you a recommendation or review on your firm Google listing, on social media pages, and other relevant websites. Remember to give them one as well if you can. Depending on the nature of your relationship, encourage them to be detailed in the review and suggest things they could share in the review. When dealing with clients, it is best to ask for a review at the conclusion of a successful engagement.

6. Downplay the negatives. If you have negative reviews, you should respond online carefully. Do not engage in a debate online, but do tell the person you want to discuss the problem and follow up offline to try to resolve the situation. If you are successful, try to get the person to retract the review or add a comment that the matter was resolved. If you have negative press, there may be little you can do but if there is a possibility of responding to limit the damage try to do so. It may be worthwhile speaking to a public relations agency if it is a serious matter. Again, take care in your response that you are not making matters worse or drawing more attention to the situation. Assuming you cannot eliminate the damage, you can counteract it by getting more positive reviews and publicity and taking the other steps mentioned above. Most businesses end up with some negative feedback so it is not as bad as it may feel. Over time, the impact will lessen.

7. Have a marketing plan. It takes time to implement these steps and we all have limits on the resources we can put towards this. A written plan can help you think through your options and prioritize, set goals, and determine what time and money you will need to achieve your objectives.

Following these suggestions has additional benefits. First, it will improve your search engine ranking when people search for a professional with your expertise or want more information on a specific issue that you have written or spoken about. It also makes you more visible with existing contacts. Assuming you are actively promoting your activities through your website, email, social media, and other means, they help you stay top of mind with your referral sources.

Finally, it makes you more aware of what your competitors are doing so you can be more effective in your own efforts. Studies show that prospects research and talk to multiple firms before making a decision. If you want to compete, a strong online brand is essential. It may not guarantee you get the business, but the lack of one may lose you the business.

If you are concerned about what Google says about you, contact us for a consultation.

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