The Google Monopoly – How to Monopolize Google and Market Your Business.

December 29, 2009 at 11:01 AM 7 comments

I’ve been trying to think of ways to simplify and better explain marketing a business through Google.

How do I cover all of the marketing techniques and considerations? What does it all mean? What should I focus on? Search engine optimization (SEO)? Pay-per-click (PPC) or sponsored listings or search engine marketing (SEM)? Social Media!? Google OneBox? Google local results? YouTube? Twitter? Blogs? Ahhhgh!!%$#@!!

I think I’ve got the perfect analogy to help sort this whole mess out!

For the purpose of this analogy (explanation) let’s assume you just purchased a Hyundai automobile dealership in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada and you want to use Google to market your new store. You sell new Hyundai vehicles and all makes of used vehicles. You also have departments for service, parts and financing. Are you with me so far?

If you have never played the board game called “Monopoly” then I would suggest that you don’t read this article. It will probably confuse you even more than you are now.

If you have played the game then I’d like you to picture in your mind a Monopoly TM board.

I have created a picture below to represent my thoughts for this article. For those of you reading this online you can click on the pictures to make them larger if you are unable to read the details.

The winner in a Monopoly game is always the person who wins the most money from people landing on his or her properties.

Each “property” on this Monopoly board represents a listing in the Google search results that a potential customer could click and come to your website. The first properties on the board after the starting square (Baltic & Mediterranean) I’ve renamed “used trucks – SEO” and “used trucks – SEM”.

When someone searches for something in Google there are three different types of results that can be displayed: sponsored listings (SEM), organic listings (SEO), and OneBox listings (local results, social media, etc.).

For the search term “used trucks” (see the picture below) there are only two types of results in Google… organic (SEO) and sponsored (SEM). The section labeled with SEO below shows the organic results and the sections labeled SEM(A) and SEM(B) show the sponsored results.

If your company is listed in both sections it is like owning both properties (Baltic & Mediterranean) in Monopoly. You double your chances of success! In fact you more than double your chances.  In this case the sum can be greater than the individual parts.

So what are the differences between these two types of listings?

Let’s talk about SEO first.  Google will not charge your company for “organic” listings. But, just because you do not pay Google doesn’t mean there are not costs. Organic listings must be earned by your company. To earn them you must meet all of Google’s criteria to determine the best search results for a particular search term.  There are over 100 different criteria that establish which businesses get these listings and which do not. Earning a listing on the first page of results for a popular search term takes a lot of work … to get it the first time… AND to keep it! Costs can be significant either in the time you must invest or the money you must pay a company to help you achieve the results or both. If obtaining good results through “Search Engine Optimization” in organic listings interests you then I recommend the following 3 things:

  1. Read some articles online about how to do Search Engine Optimization like “A beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization” so no-one will be trying to pull the wool over your eyes.  In this business there is just as much “B.S. baffles brains” as in any other. Don’t “blindly” trust anyone with the success or failure of your company.
  2. Get a beginners guide book for Search Engine Optimization like Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (For Dummies (Computers))(no insult intended) The dummy series can be quite good because they are usually written in layman’s terms for anyone to understand.
  3. Hire a professional consulting firm specializing in Internet Marketing like “ASL Internet” and make sure they are “Google certified” in both “Google Analytics” AND “Google AdWords” (like ASL Internet).

Okay so what about “sponsored” listings and this search engine marketing or SEM thing? Why are there sponsored listings at the top AND on the side? What’s the difference between SEM(A) and SEM(B) in the picture above? How do sponsored listings work?

Like SEO listings … you do not actually pay for SEM listings either. Instead it is based on performance. It’s like having a straight commission salesperson working for you. You pay each time someone clicks on your SEM listings and is delivered to your website and not each time someone sees the advertisement.

There are also criteria that determine where you will appear within the sponsored listings. These involve things like:

  1. The amount you are bidding for a delivered visitor.
  2. How close your content in the advertising text matches the search term
  3. How close the content on your website matches your advertising text
  4. What your past success ratio has been in views of your sponsored ads versus “click-through”
  5. Your geographical location compared to geographical location of the person who is searching
  6. … and much more.

The difference between SEM (A) and SEM (B) in the picture above is simply how close your advertising matches Google’s guidelines for a top quality score in your advertising.  If you have a high quality score you’re in SEM (A) versus a lower quality score placing you in SEM (B). The most significant aspect of the quality score for your ad (listing) is based on how many clicks your ad is receiving.  When you reach a higher threshold for a particular category of advertising Google will consider placing your ad in SEM(A).

The next set of properties on a Monopoly board (Connecticut, Vermont, and Oriental) I have changed to the phrase “used cars”.  Using the image below you can see there are three sections this time in the search results. Now you have three properties you can own on the board (or screen)… If you add up all of the available listings on this screen you can see 13 spots… If you had a listing in all three areas you would have over 23% of the “real estate”.

As with the previous example there are sections for SEO and SEM but there is now a third section called the “Google OneBox”. A “One Box” can contain many different things. In this case it contains a map with local provider company names, telephone numbers, and website addresses.

As with SEO and SEM, the different types of OneBox results have criteria that must be met in order to achieve top ranking results. For local listings OneBox results here is an article on “Local Search Ranking Factors”.

In the example below you can see that A B Car Sales (an ASL Internet customer) has 2 out of the 13 spots (the third one down in the SEM area and the second one in the OneBox local results). Considering this is a very competitive search result this is GREAT placement on the first screen for this “used car dealership”. Incidentally, AB Car Sales also has their vehicles listed on Monster Auto, Auto Trader, and autos.canada.com which take up the top three SEO spots and the forth SEM spot. For this reason I made the railroads in the Monopoly game relevant to other web sites on which the dealership advertises its inventory. So, A B Car Sales has representation within 6 of the 13 spots or over 46% of the real estate of this search result.

At this point I’d like to talk about Monopoly “houses” and “hotels”. What do they represent? The houses and hotels signify the quality of the listings you are presenting in the Google search results.

The better the listing the more likely visitors will click and come to your website, AND the more volume of qualified clicks you’re likely to receive. Are you motivating buyers to click on your ads? Are you making them say WOW or Whoa! How close does your listing match what is being searched? Someone searches “used cars” and the One Box ad for A B Car Sales and the SEM Ad for A B Car Sales both say “used cars” versus the Hyundai and Toyota ads which just refer to “new cars”. You’ll also notice if you read closely that the A B Car Sales Ad also offers some additional value to the Google searcher… “more photos and pricing online”!

Now back to the properties. I’m actually not going to go through all of the properties on the board game but I have included at the end of this article the screen images of each search as they relate to the Monopoly board.  I will, however, include one last example here. Let’s take a look at the next set of spaces (St. Charles, States, and Virginia). For these spaces I have chosen the search phrase “Hyundai Genesis”.

This time there are a couple of different types of Google OneBox listings (see image below). For the purpose of this article I am going to ignore the OneBox for images. In this case it will not produce a “targeted” customer coming to your website. If they are looking for stock images then they are not usually in the buying cycle for the product.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the OneBox for YouTube videos. This is where the terms Social Media or Social Media Marketing come into focus.  A good online marketing campaign uses SEO, SEM AND Social Media to grab as much of the real estate as possible.  Assume for the moment that you are again a Hyundai Car Dealership in Kamloops.  If you create some videos and upload them to YouTube you can gain a healthy edge over your competition.  Create some test drive reviews and 12 point vehicle demonstrations and also embed these YouTube videos on your website.  If you do this three things will happen:

  1. You’ll make a bigger impact with your website visitors converting a higher number from just visitors to leads and sales.
  2. You’ll have people watching them on YouTube and it will become a new place to generate leads and brand recognition.
  3. You’ll start to see the videos (if they are good) appear in Google OneBox YouTube results and you will have an extra space on the board!

This brings me to my next observation in this analogy … Free Parking!  The YouTube technique we used above works the same for Twitter, newswire items, blog posts and so on.  Hiring a good marketing/consulting firm or putting your own time into pursuing all of these Social Media outlets for your business produces many opportunities to increase your visibility within Google.  If you do it well … you’ll get a TON of this Free Parking.

There is also an added benefit when it comes to SEO.  If you continually link to web pages within your own site in your submissions to social media sites you will be indirectly increasing your “link popularity” of your website pages.  This is an important criterion when it comes to SEO.

Okay, do the “player pieces” mean anything? You bet!  These represent the individual interests of each person looking at your listings and coming to your website.  They are real people! They have hopes and dreams and aspirations just like you and me.  Too many people treat the Internet marketing “game” as just that! A game!  I’ll say it again … these are REAL PEOPLE!  You need to build a relationship with them.  You need to earn their respect. Consider this in every listing advertisement you create, every webpage you write and every tweet or blog you post.  Don’t just consider how it will impact the “search results” also consider how it will impact your relationship with the “searcher”.

So, what can land you in Jail?  Google has a well documented motto … “Do No Evil”. It is the underlying number one rule that they have given themselves to follow and they expect you to do the same.  It’s really just common sense but let me give you an example anyways.

So, you run an advert that comes up when someone searches for “Sun Country Toyota” in Kamloops and your ad says “Sun Country Toyota – click here to see all of our Toyotas in stock”.  Only problem is you are the Hyundai store down the street.  You are high jacking all of Sun Country Toyota’s customers.  The first thing wrong with this picture is that you are going to upset the searcher when he or she realizes that you are not Sun Country Toyota. The second thing wrong is you’re going to upset Sun Country Toyota and ultimately Google. Do Not Pass Go! Do Not Collect $200. Go Directly to Jail.

Your site just became delisted! You’ve been sandboxed as they say in the biz.  Another name for this is “Black hat” marketing as opposed to “White hat” marketing. Here would be the “White hat” way of doing the same thing.  You run your ad but this time you say … “What’s Better than Sun Country Toyota? Better trades, better cars, better prices at Kamloops Hyundai.”  Now you’re targeting your competitions customers more effectively and in a way that’s not going to send you directly to jail.  Here are a couple of links to articles to read more about Blackhat SEO and Blackhat SEM and the pitfalls to avoid.

Last but not least I’d like to encourage you to get involved with your community at a grass roots level and then include this involvement in your marketing efforts.  If you’re involved in the “Hot Night in the City” Car show then make some videos, tweet and blog about it … put links to these resources on your website and link to them.  This in turn will be picked up (when the time comes) by Google and other sites and you will begin to see your company showing up in results for other things you had not thought of.  It’s like the “Community Chest” cards in Monopoly … good thing come to those who give back to their communities.

Okay so what is wrong with this analogy of a Monopoly game? Where does it fall short?

  1. Some business owners think that everything should just come with their website, including SEO, SEM, Social Media… I mean, “isn’t this what I paying these guys for?”  That’s what a lot of business owners think.  But, it’s more complicated than that.  It’s not newspaper advertising.  It’s very specialized marketing that should not be painted with the same brush. You almost always get what you pay for. Not all website developers are Internet Marketers. Educate yourself on the difference.
  2. We’ve only covered Google … what about the other search engines?  Many of the examples I’ve used here apply to all search engines.  Make sure you pay attention to Microsoft and Yahoo too. Yes, Google is the biggest BUT there are still a significant number of users on Microsoft and Yahoo not to mention that there is always an ebb and flow when it comes to who has the biggest market share.  Don’t put all of your eggs into just one basket.
  3. What about converting visitors to leads and leads to sales?  I haven’t talked much about this here but it is very important.  Who wants to take a boat out sailing if it can’t keep the water out? Do you have a lot of leaks in your marketing vessel?  If you do, fix it first!  Make sure your website will convert visitors to leads and sales before you ever pour money and effort into marketing it. Here are a couple of more articles on this topic: You’ve Got Leads Now What? and M is for Merchandise.

Cheers!

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On my way to Toronto Internet Marketing – E is for Engage (M.A.R.K.E.T.)

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