How would your business be found without Google?
In a significant escalation of the debate surrounding Australia’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code currently passing through Government channels, Google has announced that if “the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”
And in an even further escalation, PM Scott Morrison has fired back, stating that “Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia.”
Put simply, Google is arguing that the government’s requirements of arbitration and demand that Google provides other news service providers with any algorithmic changes 14 days ahead of time are untenable.
But if neither Google or the Government backs down with a compromise, where does that leave Australian businesses?
Google Search is the dominant pathway to your business
Picture yourself or anyone else looking for something online. Whether someone knows of you by name, or is searching for a particular type of product or solution, you simply type it into your computer or smartphone and Google gives you the answer. The vast majority of traffic to most businesses’ websites (and thus their new prospective customers) come from people searching to fill their needs. Google Search then serves them organic search results (SEO), or Ads that the business has paid for (SEM). So what if that didn’t exist? Because that is precisely what Google is saying will happen. Let’s face it, you would have significant, business-threatening issues.
Will it come to that?
Quite possibly, and it draws attention to the big problem that many business owners don’t realise they’ve got – that their marketing funnel is so one-dimensional that all it takes is for one channel to be knocked out, and they suddenly have an existential threat that simply cannot be resolved overnight.
So what’s the answer?
Make no mistake, whether this comes to pass or not, at Ronin Brisbane, we would never advise any of our clients to put all of their marketing efforts (thus the future of their business) into one basket. It doesn’t matter if it’s Google’s practices, or Facebook’s, or anyone else’s, we have always recommended strategies that minimise the risk of any other enterprise from causing a client’s business too much trouble. You simply need enough legs on your “table” so that any one or 2 could be knocked out and it would still stand. Doing so will not only mean that your continued place in your market is secure; it will ensure that you are actually reaching all your potential customers most effectively in the first place. In other words, it’s win-win.
But how do I do that?
It boils down to a few things. Firstly, you have to know your market (or markets) enough to be able to work out how people will find you:
- If they’re looking for what you’re selling, and
- If you are trying to reach customers that don’t know that you or even your offerings exist.
For the former, you guessed it, Google Search is King. You either have to pay to appear in Google Ads (Search Engine Marketing / SEM) or have built up enough engaging content to appear in Google’s organic search results for free (Search Engine Optimisation / SEO). Often businesses will pay an agency to be “Number 1 on Google”, but this is mostly a misnomer. The reality is that you should want to increase what’s called your “keyword breadth” – in other words to be ranking for THOUSANDS of different keywords and phrases, so that when someone is looking up anything related to what you’re selling, you show up.
For the latter, these days, when it comes to reaching new audiences and customers, social media like Facebook and Instagram has taken over the “exposure” role from TV and magazines. But social media marketing using these platforms successfully takes more than generating “likes”. Generating real engagement with traffic that leads to your website is key, as is building audience libraries so you can re-target your new prospects in a cost-effective manner moving forward. In other words, you can neither be too superficial (or you won’t get sales), or too salesy, or people will simply tune you out.
More legs on the table
Even further gains (and stability of your marketing approach) come when you connect these different platforms by driving traffic from one to retarget on another – using display ads, for example, or by encouraging eDM (Newsletter) signups. Again, the channels you use should be informed by where your customers are – are they checking out videos on YouTube for entertainment or learn new things? Do they use LinkedIn, Pinterest or Reddit to pursue their interests?
Providing meaningful, engaging content (and ads) on the right platforms in the right way will ensure that you have every chance to reach a higher level of audience recall, and in turn, market penetration.
No, I’m not talking about Chandler from Friends, but Microsoft’s search engine. (Though people have been known to spend more time with Chandler than the search engine hardly anyone uses.) Jumping to Bing would be the most likely next option that people would likely have to take if Google Search weren’t available. Assuming the Government didn’t have similar issues with striking an agreement with Bing, this would very quickly become a hotly contested space for businesses. Remember, if Google Search is gone, as is Google Search Ads.
For your business to succeed on organic Bing, you would have to have approached your Content Marketing in the right way from a fair while earlier. As with Google, organic rankings on Bing are driven by algorithmically-driven merit, which is informed by the quality and volume of your website content, as well as the amount of quality traffic from other sources, measured over months and even years. In the meantime, the cost of paid ads on Bing will skyrocket, as they will directly replace Google Ads (formerly Adwords).
So the more you are able to approach ANY of your content marketing in the right ways, the more you will get more customers right now, as that will drive traffic to you via organic Google Search, and be safeguarded in the future, should Bing take over google’s role in the space.
Display Ads & YouTube
Important to note is that the current legislative debate doesn’t include Google’s display ad offerings, or Google-owned YouTube. Clearly, each of these play a different role for your business marketing to search, and need to be considered as ways to target your markets. YouTube itself offers targeted ads in addition to a great platform for providing quality, engaging content and direct links to your website. Display ads can appear in many places on the web, and though they can’t magically reach people looking for what you’re offering, for the time being can be targeted and re-targeted to audiences likely to be interested in what you’re offering.
The best advice, for right now?
Get on top of your digital strategy, audit where your current funds are being spent and where the potential dead-ends and threats are. Start actioning marketing in a variety of digital channels in order to get the payoffs rolling and to safeguard you in future. If you’d like help with any of the above, contact us at Ronin. We’ve been helping Australian businesses with long term marketing support and solutions since way back in 2006.