Top 5 Ways Google Analytics Can Help Your Business

Google Analytics is a free, powerful tool that helps you see all of the analytics related to your website. In other words, it shows you how many visits your website gets, where those visits come from, and what those visitors do on your website. 

At first glance, it can look incredibly intimidating with all of it’s numbers, charts, graphs, and fancy words, but we promise it’s easier than it sounds! It definitely has a learning curve but using Google Analytics can have a huge effect on the growth of your company, and that is well worth taking a little time to learn the platform! 

In this blog, I will give you the top 5 highlights of what Google Analytics can do for your business. Let’s get started! 

One thing that almost every business has in common are goals. Goals are what help drive growth and keep you focused. One very handy tool that Google Analytics offers is the ability to see and even track custom goals for your business. Email sign ups, checking out, submitting a contact form, even clicking on a social media button, all of these and more are things you can track in Google Analytics.

But wait, there’s more! You can break down these metrics into a detailed outline of how that goal was completed. Side note! When a goal is completed, it is called a conversion. This detailed outline feature can show you the start to finish journey of the user, so that you can find out where your conversions are happening, and where they are getting abandoned along the way. 

Finding out what your customers actually like is half the battle, if only there was a way to know this without asking them… THERE IS! Google Analytics can help you find out what content your customers are actually drawn to on your website and what they ignore. This way you can strategically create new content and stop wasting time on content that your customers aren’t going to react to. 

For example, let’s say your business posts about blogs that help promote new products in your store. You can go to Google Analytics and see what category of blogs are getting the most traffic, and which blogs are struggling. This will give you a clear understanding as to which products you should focus on as well as which products you may want to avoid. 

As a business owner you have probably run some sort of advertisement in the past. Sometimes these do great, but oftentimes they are complete shots in the dark and can have a negative return. Google Analytics can help you make well educated advertising decisions based off of the content that is performing well on your site. 

Getting a ton of traffic for a certain service? Chances are, that service is needed in your area so ads being run for that service are more likely to succeed rather than an ad published on a guess. Along with knowing what kinds of ads to post, you can use Google Analytics Conversion Tracking to see if your ads are bringing in revenue. 

Most small businesses struggle majorly in one area: Social Media converting to sales. 

This is usually because, like advertising, social media can be a total shot in the dark. Not only on what sort of content to produce, but what platforms you should use. Sure, you could try to do them all at once, but why waste time and money where there’s no real return on investment? 

Google Analytics can help you figure out what social platforms lead to sales on your website, so that you can cut off what doesn’t work and invest in what does. By narrowing your focus to platforms that perform well, you will be able to spend more effort into thoughtful content that helps you grow, rather than throwing a bunch of generic content at every single platform. 

Aside from being able to help you connect more easily to your customers, Google Analytics can help you find out if your website needs a little TLC. As a business owner you are already running around with your “head cut off,” trying to do all-the-things, correct? You rarely have time to hang out on your own website page by page, checking that everything is working well. But never fear, Google Analytics is here to help with two major categories: Site Speed and Site Behavior. 

Site Speed is crucial for gaining traction with your website. Studies show that if a site takes longer than 1 second to load, most users will just leave. Another study found that 75% of smartphone users expect to get immediate results while using their smartphone. Site Speed in Google Analytics can show you your site’s load times for both mobile and desktop, and help you troubleshoot ways to improve. 

Site behavior is also very important because this tells you how users use your site and where users decide to leave it. This can be helpful to find out what information users aren’t connecting with and what parts of the website might be hard to navigate, causing users to leave. Part of this is the behavior flow, which shows a funnel drilldown of the navigation of your website, showing where users enter and exit your site and everywhere they go in between. 

So, if you see that users are entering your homepage and leaving before they get to any real solid information, chances are your homepage isn’t user friendly and could use some love. 

Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool with an almost endless supply of uses. When used well, Google Analytics can help your website and your business as a whole as well as run more smoothly and efficiently. 

While we have barely scratched the surface in this blog of all the wonders of Google Analytics, we know it still might be overwhelming to someone completely new. That’s why we are always here to help! 

Reach out for a free consultation or training session to see how Google Analytics could be useful for your business. 

The Deal with Online Reviews

Studies tell us over and over again, that online reviews help move the needle when it comes to bringing in new customers.  According to reviewtrackers.com, "approximately 53% of consumers visit a business within 48 hours of performing a local search on Google."  If you are brand new to online reviews and the profiles you can receive reviews on, consider starting with our blog on Local SEO or Being Found Online where we talk about the more foundational aspects of online directories. If you already have profiles set up, then keep reading!

Typically, these directories help customers who are either looking for your business directly or are looking to discover someone who does what you do. In either instance, having solid customer reviews will help you convert those searchers into paying customers. There are a few different factors that we should consider when it comes to reviews:

We'll talk through each factor below.

Number of Reviews

The number of reviews your business has on your various platforms is important in a couple of different ways:  the algorithm of the platform and customer perception.

Algorithm of the Platform

From a purely algorithmic perspective, having more positive reviews helps your profile show up more frequently and be more prominent (closer to the top of the list).  The various goal posts that I've noticed from working with many businesses on Google My Business over the years are:

Some of these numbers have studies to back them up and some are just purely my observations over the years. The first goalpost of 17 is based purely on observations. I have noticed in my experience doing this that when a Google My Business profile goes over 17, they tend to start getting more free traffic and they tend to start getting more inquiries from their Google My Business account.  I like to focus on this first goalpost because it's a very reachable goal. Almost every business has seventeen people they can ask to leave them a review on Google! It will take some effort but it's very reachable - even for a new business. 

Now depending on your industry and your location, these numbers will change. For example, a restaurant in a major city can easily reach over 250 Google reviews and still not have the most in their area! But, I am providing general numbers for the local businesses I see in east Tennessee.

Customer Perception

Beyond getting your profile seen by more folks and being displayed more prominently, having more online reviews will compel the people who do see your profile to trust you more, engage with you faster and be more likely to do business with you. Why? Because online reviews act as social proof. Social proof is other people saying that you do a good job, that you're trustworthy and you won't give them a negative experience if they choose to do business with you.

In service-based industries, studies tell us that the magic number of reviews from the customer's point of view is 34. If you have 34 or more reviews, customers feel that you are more trustworthy and the likelihood of them clicking through to your website or calling you directly goes up significantly.

 

The Sentiment of Reviews

When we say sentiment as it relates to reviews, we mean the overall attitude or overarching theme of the reviews your business receives. So, for example, if you're a small business with a 5-star rating (out of 5), then your business reviews has extremely positive sentiment. On the flip side, if you're a business with let's say an overall rating of 1.7 stars, then the sentiment is going to be negative and will need some attention on your part! So, the sentiment is the overall sum of the reviews your business has. There are two types of reviews - positive and negative. Both are valuable.

Let's start with negative reviews and we'll work our way back to good reviews.

Negative Reviews

The first reason why negative reviews are valuable is just from a customer service point of view. An unhappy customer will typically 7 people and a happy customer will typically only tell one person. If an unhappy customer takes the time to express to you on Google what their experience was and why it was negative - this is a gift! Because you will actually get a chance to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again. Perhaps one of your team members isn't treating customers how they should when you're not around or perhaps a certain aspect of your process doesn't make for a positive experience - having this feedback allows you to fix it. Now, trust me, as a business owner who has had to take negative feedback from time to time - getting that negative review doesn't feel like a gift at first. At first, it's easy to puff out our chest and become enraged... write up a response that tells that person off. But, wait. Keep reading... and for the love of God, please don't reply like that.

Studies tell us that most consumers understand that not every single customer's experience is going to be stellar and they are used to that. One negative review will not be the reason why someone doesn't work with your company. With that in mind, studies do tell us that 87% of consumers care more about your response to the review.  Meaning, they care about your responsiveness (did you actually respond), your professionalism, and your attitude (were you nasty and defensive or were you genuine and apologetic).

So, if you can't respond in this way at first - just pause. Or, perhaps have another team member write the response until you are less emotional. This is value for many folks in outsourcing this part of their business. We like to see the responses to a negative review do a few things:

A great example of a response to a negative review would be something along the lines of: "(Person's name), we are so sorry to hear about your experience. We genuinely want to help make this right and would love to have the opportunity to talk to you about this directly. Would you please reach out to me directly so we can talk? (Insert phone number or email address by which they can reach you). Looking forward to hearing from you. -Victory, Co-Owner." There are lots of teachings on how to best handle negative reviews. But, ultimately, handling a bad review is just about humanizing the experience as much as possible. Sometimes it will require a bit of humility on your part to try to fix the situation... and sometimes, you just aren't going to be able to fix the situation!

In addition to that, studies tell us having a perfect 5-star rating can make customers a bit suspicious of your company. It makes them feel that perhaps you bought your reviews or that they aren't all real. So, having a few negative reviews that you respond to professionally and apologetically is actually a positive for your business!

 

Positive Reviews

When you are asking people to leave reviews, it is always a good thing to have them mention particular services or products that you want to rank for - as these will help make your profile more findable. It's important to remember that being responsive, even to positive reviews, is important! It's a chance to show your friendly and interactive side not only to the person who left the review but to the other searchers who will see your response later! The rating that most consumers look for is around 4.5 stars because it's not "too perfect" but it still shows an overall positive sentiment from the majority of people who have interacted with your company.

So, take the pressure off of yourself! You don't want a perfect or untarnished record. You just need a pretty good one. You can do this.

 

Age of Reviews

The third factor to consider is the age of your reviews. If all the reviews on your company's Google My Business profile are two years old, it will definitely spur some hesitancy in consumers. They may wonder if you are still in business or if you are still doing a good job for your customers. But, having reviews that have some age to them is also a benefit - shows a consistently positive track record with people who are viewing your profile.  In the same vein, if all of your reviews are from the last two weeks - it may cause some hesitancy from consumers reading them.

We mention this to say that building up your online reviews will take some time and that's ok. Just like most other things in business, to do it right - it's going to take some time. Just embrace the process! Online reviews aren't something that are one and done. But rather something that you'll need to consistently put effort into both now and for the foreseeable future. Once you reach your goals, you can't kick your feet up and rest on your laurels. But rather, you'll need to continue requesting new reviews from customers so that your profile doesn't become irrelevant.

 

Asking for Reviews

The beautiful thing about online reviews is that getting reviews is free. All it takes is to provide a great experience to your customers and then ask for the reviews. Often just simply reminding your customers about the value of these reviews for your business will be enough to have them write one for you. In fact, 71% of consumers will leave a review if you ask! So, you start by just asking.

I wanted to make sure I gave you a couple of quick ideas on how to start asking folks for reviews. Remember, that you cannot offer discounts or anything in exchange for a review on Google. In fact, if you do this and they find out - your entire profile could be taken down. Don't do it!  Offering discounts or free stuff in exchange for a positive review is considered black-hat marketing and we both know you don't want to go there. However, you can ask and you can remind folks. Some of my favorite strategies for getting more reviews:

Do you have other strategies that you've implemented for your business to get more customer reviews? We'd love to hear them. Email us and let us know at info@thesocialbrandtn.com!

What is SEO?

 

If you want to be found online, SEO is your ticket.

 

You’ve probably heard this term before. Anyone who works in the marketing field is obsessed with SEO - and anyone else thinks it's mumbo jumbo.  This three-letter acronym is tiny and yet is incredibly important to the success of any website. So what is it about SEO that makes it so important?

 

What is SEO?

 

As it turns out, SEO is actually a real thing and isn't mumbo-jumbo.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of utilizing specific keywords to improve both the quantity and quality of organic traffic to your website.

 

Summary: You want to be found when people search businesses like yours on Google.

 

How Does SEO Work?

 

When you use a search engine (like Google, Bing, or Yahoo) to find something online, the results that you’re presented with are the very best that can be offered based off of that search engine’s algorithms. Those algorithms are designed to show results that match up with particular requirements, but the most important factor is whether the result is relevant to the search query.

 

Search engine algorithms are flooded by the information brought back to them by web crawlers that collect such data. Crawlers are especially attracted to keyword data, which helps tremendously in showing whether or not a web page is relevant.

 

Summary: Search engines choose websites to present to its user based on the language used on the websites.

 

How Can I Get Better SEO?

 

Half the battle of SEO is knowing the right language, or keywords, to use and where to use them. The answer is, as many keywords that make sense and everywhere you can.

 

Determine good keyword phrases that are commonly searched for and utilize them in your descriptions and blurbs on your website. This will help give web crawlers something to latch onto when the next person gets online to search for something similar to your business.

 

While figuring out good keywords for web crawlers, keep in mind that web crawlers cannot latch onto photographs. This is why a lot of photo-dependent websites have thorough titles and descriptions on their pages.

 

In fact, a lot of custom website-builders have a function where you can add alt text to your photos in lieu of captions. Whereas captions are visible to the reader, alt text is only visible if you hover over the image for a moment. While this may seem redundant to you, to a web crawler it’s a reiteration of your keywords, or perhaps reinforces other keywords on the page. Since web crawlers can only read the text, it’s extremely important to remember to add alt text to your photographs.

 

alt-text

 

Summary: Don't rely on pictures to help your website content get found, label everything through captions and alt-text.

 

Where Do I Start?

 

The best way to start getting better SEO is to look over your own website. Do some homework on yourself, and search terms that customers would use when looking for businesses like yours.

 

Then, figure out different ways to phrase the search query. Doing this will enhance the possibility of being found, as some search terms may be full sentences while others may be simple phrases or keywords. Don’t forget to add information like colors, sizes, or materials - customers are more particular than ever, and this information narrows their search results but increases your chances of appearing on the first page.

 

Keep your eyes on your website’s visitors and gauge what’s working and what’s not. Never stop trying though - what works today may not work tomorrow.

 

As long as you’re working your SEO up, you’re sure to see an increase in traffic, and make your website more likely than ever to get to the top of the results list!

What is Local SEO?

Owning a local business brings a whole new spin to the work you put into your SEO (search engine optimization). You may have some great keywords on your website, but if you are marketing mostly to your local community, you might find that you’re not getting the results you really want. A click originating from four states away is exciting, but it won’t help you if you only sell within a specific area around your business’s physical location.
That’s where local SEO comes in. Local SEO puts you on the map for people in your area who may be searching for your products or services. So how do you use local SEO, and more importantly, where can you start?

What is Local SEO?

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This can include ensuring that certain information is available on your website and placing your business information on more localized online searching tools such as YellowPages, Google, etc.

 

Some parts of local SEO work better with brick-and-mortar business locations that have an actual street address. However, this doesn’t mean that your business has to have a street address for local SEO to work. Simply using location information in your normal SEO work should be enough to improve your local SEO.

How Does Local SEO Work?

 

If you’ve ever searched for a particular product or service in your area, you yourself have probably performed a local search. For instance, “used tires for sale near me” or “grocery stores in Knoxville” are great examples of commonly phrased local searches.

 

Even in the absence of an obvious local search, most search engines are built to place precedence with local organic search results over national ones. For example, if you do a Google search for “web design services”, you’ll see local businesses offering that service in the Google Maps box above the organic search results.

 

This can also work for areas around your physical location as well. Businesses in Knoxville can attract business from Oak Ridge by writing content about Oak Ridge and naming the city enough times to draw attention from search engine crawlers.

How Can I Improve My Local SEO?

The best way to start is to put the physical location of your business on your website. You’ll also want to place your business’s information on its own Google Business page. This will ensure that, at the very least, you’re more likely to be found with a search within your local area.
In addition to those measures, you can place your business’s physical address and information on other websites such as YellowPages, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The more areas that your business is listed, the more that crawlers will associate you with the local area.
On your website and in any posts you make, noting location information such as the city name can also help build up your credibility in the local area. This is the same tactic you’ll want to do in order to drive business from surrounding locations as well.
Regardless of your type of business, local SEO is an important part to having your products or services discovered by local audiences. Not only will it build you up locally, but it can also have an impact on your regular SEO by driving traffic responding to new keywords that you may not have already utilized.

Being Found Online

 We talk to people every day who aren't being found online. They often express that they feel so overwhelmed and don't know where to start. So, here are our beginner's steps for the business trying to be found online!
These profiles are the beginning steps to developing your brand's Local SEO strategy.
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1. Google My Business Profile

This should your first step in getting found online.
What is it? The Google My Business profile puts you into Google's free directory of businesses online. This is the square you often see a pop-up on the right-hand side of the page when you're searching on a desktop or the first results that pop-up on a mobile phone.
Why? Google search engine results are highly used and trusted. Many Android phones, tablets, and internet browsers use Google as the primary search engine. Every time you search in Chrome, Google gives you any and all results. By taking hold of your business’s results to allow you to control your public image and the first impression to potential customers. This tool is crucial!
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2. Bing Places for Business

This should your second step in getting found online. Although Bing is not the #1 search site, it is the 2nd - so it's still important!
What is it? Similar to Google My Business, Bing Places for Business is a free directory for businesses. Just like on Google, this is a separate box that comes up on the right-hand side of the screen. It looks pretty similar, too!
Why? Bing powers all Microsoft phones, tablets, and PCs. Anyone who searches your business on Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer will get their results through Bing. Have you ever used a Microsoft Pixel and Microsoft Surface? Yep, their main search engine is Bing! Bing is incredibly useful for your business.
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3. Yelp

As you can see in the photo above, Bing pulls in reviews from Yelp. So this is the next natural step. Siri and the Maps app on iPhones, iPads and other Apple products also use Yelp which makes it very important.
What is it? Yelp is a large-scale search engine with results based on business reviews. It also supplies Apple Maps with all reviews, business hours, and information regarding your business. Additionally, Yelp gives you the opportunity to take hold of your business’s public information and reviews.
Why? Yelp provides information for many more important platforms - making it vital to your business' findability!
NOTE: Please do not confuse our recommendation to create a free profile on Yelp as a recommendation to accept free advertising on Yelp or to pay for advertising on Yelp. Our recommendation is to create a free, verified listing only.
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4. Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages helps keep your business profile accurate and controlled. Although this profile is less critical than the first three, along with the other directories - it does certainly helps you be found by new customers!
What is it? Yellow pages is the online version of what used to be the phone book. It is a free directory online.
Why? Many times search engines use information from Yellow Pages to populate information.
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Feeling Overwhelmed?

We can help, learn more here! This is what we do here at The Social Brand - help people get found online! Feel free to reach out to us to see how we can help.  Local SEO helps local customers find your business, learn more about these tactics here.