Category Archives: Google and Your Business

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Challenges and Opportunities for Small Businesses Online – New Research from Deloitte

Today, we are hosting a research livestream at 12pm PST with Deloitte, building on previous research about how the web is helping small businesses grow. We commissioned additional analysis to better understand the barriers that small businesses face in adopting digital tools. By publishing this research, we hope we can have more impact through our programs and partnerships in helping small businesses grow online. Tune in here.

Read on for highlights from Deloitte’s analysis which we’ll be discussing in our livestream later today:

Women-owned small businesses are adopting more digital tools.
Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45%, compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses. Deloitte’s research found that women-led businesses are also more likely to be using digital tools. Around 55% of women-owned small businesses are using more advanced digital tools.1 Kim Ormsby, founder of Natural Baby Company in Bozeman, MT knows the value of using digital tools first-hand. She started the company when she was pregnant with her second child and connected with like-minded parents around the world the world using the Internet. “The web is pretty much where all of our growth is happening.” 

Rural-based small businesses are less likely to be using advanced digital tools than their non-rural counterparts.
Deloitte’s research found that rural-based businesses are not as likely to be using advanced digital tools. While they face many similar challenges to non-rural small businesses, US small businesses in rural areas were twice as likely to report having an inadequate Internet connection. Jim Hobart, co-founder of Alpaca Direct in Hayden, ID, has had to overcome this Internet access challenge to build a thriving yarn and apparel business that serves over 100,000 customers in 30 countries. In a Senate testimony, he discussed the challenges that rural-based small businesses face: “For a small business in northern Idaho, our sales demographics may surprise you. 92% of our annual sales are online. In the USA, our four top selling states are New York, California, Texas, and Florida. We feel that improved Internet access…needs attention. Our competitors in urban areas are operating on the equivalent of a 12-lane freeway while our access to that freeway is a like a worn-out toll road." 

The smallest businesses are less likely to be using advanced digital tools.
Deloitte found that only 12% of small businesses with less than 10 employees were digitally advanced, compared to 39% of small businesses with 100-250 employees. While the smallest businesses are less likely to be using advanced digital tools, those that are online are holding their own against much larger competitors. Villa Lagoon Tile based in Gulf Shores, AL has seen the power of digital tools to help them grow. With ten employees, they work on a very niche product - durable cement tiles - and heavily rely on online tools to find their customers. According to John Adams, Director of Technology, “AdWords is really perfect for matching clients and vendors in a niche market. We could never compete with big-box stores on standard tiles. But we can compete for cement tiles thanks to Google search and advertising.”

Small businesses face real barriers to fully using digital tools.
When asked what prevents them from using digital tools more, Deloitte’s research uncovered a number of barriers. 40% of small business respondents reported that digital isn’t relevant for their business and 38% said it’s not effective. 34% selected concerns about privacy and security. Small business owners also reported facing resource constraints. 30% said they don’t have enough experience with digital tools, 29% said they have no time to learn about digital tools, and 28% said that digital tools are too expensive.

Next steps for learning more about digital tools. 
There may some hurdles to using digital tools, but as we learned in Deloitte’s first report, small businesses can greatly benefit from building their presence online and reaching new customers. Many small business owners tell us they want to be doing more with digital, but they often don’t know where to start or have enough time to decide which tools to use. To introduce busy small business owners to digital tools that can help them grow, we designed Google’s Get Your Business Online training program as a way to get started and better understand the value these tools can offer. To learn more about how digital can help your business grow, find a workshop near you.

The full results from the Deloitte Connecting Small Businesses research can be found here. We hope you’ll tune in to our research livestream today at 12pm PST here

Posted by Soo Young Kim, Small Business Outreach

1. Women-owned businesses using either high or advanced digital tools as defined in Deloitte’s digital engagement ladder

Join Us for a Livestream Featuring New Research from Google and Deloitte

Last year we published research with Deloitte about how the web is driving small business growth. The study found that the use of digital tools (such as websites, analytics, and online marketing) positively impacts small business growth in four key ways: reaching new customers, reaching new markets, growing faster, and creating jobs:
Despite these benefits, 80% of small businesses in the United States are not fully utilizing the power of digital tools. Therefore we commissioned a second report from Deloitte to better understand why more small businesses aren’t using advanced digital tools. 

Join us on January 17th at 12 PM PT / 3 PM ET for a livestream presentation where we’ll share our new research, and host a panel discussion featuring small businesses who have used digital tools to grow. 

Learn more about the livestream and RSVP here. We hope you will join us.

‘Tis the Small Biz Season: Google and Friends Team Up for a Holiday Livestream

The holiday season officially begins in a few short weeks. While everyone else is making their shopping, entertaining, and traveling lists (and checking them twice), if you’re a small business owner, you’re probably busy prepping. We’re here to help.

Marketing Wonderland Livestream - November 1
On Wednesday, November 1st, Google’s Get Your Business Online team will be joining forces with the Small Business Administration (SBA), Constant Contact, Facebook, and Square to put on a workshop, streamed live on YouTube. This team of digital experts is part of the SBA’s Small Business Technology Coalition, committed to empowering entrepreneurs across the U.S. to use the web and digital tools to better manage, promote, and grow their businesses.

Experts will take you through a marketing wonderland, sharing search engine optimization strategies, tips for reaching customers on mobile, steps for creating a seasonal email marketing plan, advice on the latest and safest payment options, and more. And if you have questions, we’ll be finishing up with a live Q&A via Twitter. You can participate by tweeting your question using the hashtag #MarketingWonderland.

Find and register for a partner-hosted viewing party near you to check out the livestream on November 1st. These events are offered at no charge for you to attend, and in addition to catching the workshop, you could also get hands-on help applying what you’ve learned and mingle with other business owners and organizations in your area.

Can’t find a viewing party that works for you? You can also watch the livestream from your own home or office. Register now and we’ll send you details on where to access the workshop on November 1st.

We hope you’ll be tuning in on November 1st—let’s deck the digital halls for your merriest and brightest season yet!

holiday livestream.jpg

Posted by Whitney Cox, Marketing Manager, Get Your Business Online

Answer customer questions on Google

Planning a visit to a local business can raise questions ranging from “Does this restaurant provide high-chairs?” to “What accessibility accommodations does this B&B offer?” When looking for answers, 82% of people turn to search engines, but they often have a hard time finding accurate, up-to-date information.1 That’s why Google is bringing Questions and Answers to local business listings.

As a business owner, you have the most reliable answers to your customers’ questions and we want to make it easy for you to receive and respond to those questions. That’s just what Questions and Answers lets you do. To start using it, just search for your business on your mobile phone and go to the Questions and Answers feature on your Google business listing.

Questions and Answers offers new ways for you to engage with your customers:

  • Add frequently asked questions to your listing so that mobile users who find your business on Google Search and Google Maps can easily get the answers to your customers’ most common questions.

  • Answer questions from potential customers on Google Search and Google Maps on your mobile phone. If you have Google Maps on Android, we‘ll also send you a push notification when a new question has been asked about your business so you can post an answer instantly.

  • Highlight top responses. Beyond FAQs and your own responses, customers are also able to answer each other’s questions. You can highlight the most helpful answers from your customer community by using the thumb to bump them up to the top of the list.

If you’re not using Google My Business yet, sign up and start managing your free business listing on Google. Once you’ve verified your business, you’ll be ready to start posting and answering questions. To learn more, visit the Google Maps Help Center.

Posted by Lisa Wang, Product Manager, Google Maps

1. Google. Google Consumer Barometer, 2017.

AdWords Express delivers meaningful interactions with goals

While AdWords Express has always aimed to make it easy to set up ads on Google, we’ve seen that it can still be challenging for small business owners to tell how well their ads are working to deliver real-world results.

Today, we’re changing that with the launch of goals in AdWords Express. You can now choose which business goal you want to achieve with your online ad. AdWords Express will then continuously optimize your ad with that goal in mind and show you how well your ad is meeting your goal.

There are three goals you can choose from depending on what matters most to your business:

  1. Call your business: Get more direct calls from potential customers who are ready to talk on the phone about your products or services.
  2. Visit your storefront: Bring more customers to your physical store location.
  3. Take an action on your website: Get more people to take a specific action on your website, such as filling out a form or requesting a free quote.

Depending on which you select, AdWords Express then fine-tunes your ad to meet your goal. For example, selecting “Call your business” will prompt Google to show your phone number more prominently in your ad, making it easy for potential customers to call you at the exact moment they want to get in touch. Then you can check out your ad’s performance by reviewing goal-specific metrics, like how many calls your ad generated, or how often people saw your ad and then searched for your store on Google Maps.

The addition of goals is possible because of a series of changes we’ve made to AdWords Express over the past two years — including using Google Analytics to track website actions, and using Google Maps visits and Google forwarding numbers to track store visits and phone calls. Together, these changes help you do what you really care about — connect with customers.

We’re excited to continue working to help you get better, more meaningful interactions with customers, so stay tuned for coming updates. In the meantime, to learn more about AdWords Express, head over to our website.

Posted by Kavi Goel, Group Product Manager, AdWords Express

Home Service ads help more professionals get quality leads online

Home Service ads make it quick and easy to find local service professionals you can trust. When someone searches on Google for a local service professional like a plumber, electrician, or house cleaner, the Home Service unit may appear at the top of the results page. Being in the Home Service unit serves as a badge of trust for service professionals–only those meeting Google's strict qualifying criteria are featured there.

Each professional has a unique profile where they can showcase their specific services, service areas, and hours of operation. Customers have the ability to browse through these profiles, see reviews from previous customers, and contact selected professionals who meet their specific needs with a phone call or an online request.

Since its launch, Home Service ads has enabled a number of small service businesses to expand rapidly. Dan Travers, the owner of 1-800-ANYTYME Plumbing, Heating and Air, started using Home Services in order to reach new customers online. Dan has been impressed by the ability of Home Services to generate a high volume of quality leads for the business. “Our booking rates are up close to 70%,” he says. “I had to hire two more technicians to take on the additional volume. We are definitely seeing our return on investment."

To keep helping businesses like Dan’s, we’re continuing to expand Home Services ads. The product is now available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Stockton, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. We’ve also made it available to other types of businesses, like painters, electricians, and towing providers.
We’re growing quickly, so to be among the first to hear our updates, or to apply for Home Services if we’re already in your area, please fill out this short form.

Posted by Nataliya Broitman, Head of Small Business Marketing

Fast mobile sites get more customers. Let’s help get yours up to speed.

How long does it take for your mobile site to load? Five seconds? Ten seconds? These few seconds could be the difference between keeping visitors on your site or losing them – because people aren’t willing to wait. In fact, most sites lose half their visitors while loading.1 And 46% of people say that the most frustrating thing about browsing on their phone is waiting for slow pages to load.2

With a little help, we believe every business can have a fast mobile site. That’s why we’re launching a new set of features to test your site’s speed on Test My Site, which will show you:

  • Your site’s mobile speed: 50% of people expect a site to load in less than two seconds.3 Find out how fast your site loads.
  • The number of visitors you may be losing: When it comes to mobile speed, every second matters – for each additional second it takes a mobile page to load, conversions can drop by up to 20%.4 Learn how many people may be leaving your site during the time it takes to load.
  • How you compare to the competition: See how your business stacks up against others in your industry.
  • How to make your site faster: We’ll email you a personalized assessment with specific recommendations on how to speed up your site.

Taking a few steps to improve your site speed can make a big difference. Yard Dog Fence Company, a Nashville fencing company that specializes in pet-friendly and child-safe fences, took the recommendations from Test My Site to significantly improve their mobile speed. They reduced the file sizes of the images on their site and now their mobile site loads in 5 seconds compared to 26 seconds. For Michael Casper, the owner of Yard Dog, it’s made a real difference: “90% of our business comes from our mobile site. Since we improved our mobile speed, we doubled our sales.”

Making changes like these can help you see a real impact on your business, too – get started now with Test My Site.

Posted by Yong Su Kim, VP Americas, Google Marketing Solutions

2. Google Webmaster Central Blog, #MobileMadness: a campaign to help you go mobile-friendly, 2015.
3. DoubleClick by Google, The need for mobile speed, 2016.

Make your business stand out on Google with Posts

With 82% of people turning to search engines to find local information,1 your Google listing is the ideal place to showcase what is unique about your business. Even when customers know exactly what they're looking for, they still want to get to know the business and see what it has to offer. That’s why Google My Business is bringing Posts to local businesses — an easy way to help attract new customers and build relationships with the customers you already have.

Posts appear on your Google business listing. Customers can tap to read the full post, and they can also share your post with their friends directly from Google.

Posting on Google gives you new ways to engage with your customers:

  • Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers.
  • Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at your location.
  • Showcase your top products and highlight new arrivals.
  • Choose one of the available options to connect with your customers directly from your Google listing: give them a one-click path to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even buy a specific product from your website.

Seventy percent of people look at multiple businesses before making a final choice.
2 With Posts, you can share timely, relevant updates right on Google Search and Maps to help your business stand out to potential customers. And by including custom calls-to-action directly on your business listing, you can choose how to connect with your customers.

“Posts definitely helped our business because a lot of people look us up through Google. When they do, they want to see the vibe of the place. Being able to post directly to Google allows them to see the reviews and get a feel for the shop all in one spot.” - Cut & Grind, London, UK
“As a small business, we don’t have a ton of resources. We post with the intention of engaging new and existing customers, informing them of new therapists and services we offer as we expand our business. The posts help us stand out in a unique way and allow us to differentiate ourselves from our competition.” - Just Mind, Austin, TX
“Posts are worth my time because with limited effort you can get something fresh that is reaching people's eyes. 1,100 people saw my last post. Getting information out to the customers is big for this kind of business, letting them know we have bikes or different sporting goods they may not be aware of.”- Play It Again Sports, Saint Paul, MN

If you’re a Google My Business user, you can start posting right now. Posts can be created on-the-go using the Google My Business Android and iOS apps or website.

If you’re not yet using Google My Business, sign up and get started today managing your business listing on Google. Once you’ve verified your business, you’ll be ready to start posting. To learn more, visit the Google My Business Help Center.

Posted by Rosa Wu, Product Manager, Google My Business

1 Google. Google Consumer Barometer. 2014/2015.

2 Google. Google Consumer Barometer. 2014/2015.

Four ways the web supports small business growth – new research from Deloitte

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, and they make our communities special. Businesses are revitalizing their towns, creating jobs, and shaping their communities—one customer and employee at a time.

We wanted to better understand the web’s role in helping small businesses grow in today’s economy, so we recently commissioned new research with Deloitte. The study found that the use of digital tools (such as websites, analytics, and online marketing) positively impacts small business growth in four key ways: reaching new customers, reaching new markets, growing faster, and creating jobs.

Reaching more customers

Digital tools help small businesses reach more customers at every stage of the purchase process. In fact, Deloitte’s research found that small businesses using advanced digital tools such as web analytics and online video, were almost 3x as likely to have increased customer interest, like calls and leads. They were also more than 3x as likely to have seen more sales inquiries, like foot traffic and orders, in the last year. Wichita Furniture in Wichita, KS has experienced these highly qualified leads first-hand. Their website traffic increased almost 50 percent in 2016, and they attribute the lion’s share of this growth to online advertising.

“...[Online advertising] brings quality customers through our doors—people who have seen our products and know what they’re looking for. As a result, we’ve seen a drastic increase in our sales per guest.”
- Jay Storey, President & Founder, Wichita Furniture

Reaching new markets

The web can open up new markets to small businesses, whether they’re across the country or across the world. Deloitte’s research found that digitally advanced small businesses are 3x as likely to have exported in the last year. That’s what Jim and Kelley Hobart discovered with their company Alpaca Direct, based in Hayden, ID. Digital resources like online video and cloud-based communication tools connect Alpaca Direct to customers across the globe.

"There are a lot of people all over the world who don't have a local yarn shop. We want to become their local yarn shop even though we're all the way here in Idaho."

- Kelley Hobart, Co-Owner, Alpaca Direct

Growing faster

Digitally advanced small businesses experienced revenue growth that was nearly 4x as high as the previous year. Businesses like Kaleidoscope Hair Products based in New Orleans, LA, are growing faster because of the web. In 2016, Kaleidoscope reached more than 43,000 customers and doubled their revenue from the previous year.

"We went from selling no products to having a full warehouse, exponential growth, and distributors all around the world."

- Jesseca Dupart, Owner and CEO, Kaleidoscope Hair Products

Creating jobs

Digitally advanced small businesses are job creators. In fact, they were nearly 3x as likely to have created new jobs in the last year. Dreamstyle Remodeling, based in Albuquerque, NM, is a job creator in their community. They have been growing 34 percent annually since 2013 and expect to reach $100 million in sales this year. Since developing their digital strategy, Dreamstyle has added 250 employees to keep pace with their growth. They plan on hiring another 500 people to support their expansion in two additional locations by 2020.

"We think [our 2020 plan] is possible... And the web and Google tools are going to be critical to that growth."
- Larry Chavez, CEO, Dreamstyle Remodeling

This is a glimpse into how small businesses are growing using digital tools. Read the full results from the Deloitte research study.

To learn how your business can get online and grow, check out new resources available through our Get Your Business Online program.

Posted by Soo Young Kim, Small Business Outreach

Across the U.S., businesses are using the web to grow

When their 10-year-old daughter asked if she could raise alpacas on the family ranch, Jim and Kelley Hobart figured, “Why not?” They welcomed the animals onto their land and soon thereafter discovered the many benefits of alpaca wool. It was soft, durable, warm and eco-friendly—it had to be shared with the rest of the world. To the delight of their daughter and alpaca lovers everywhere, the Hobarts launched Alpaca Direct in 2005, producing quality yarns and apparel made from the unique fiber.

Jim and Kelley never imagined that a curious request from their youngest daughter would transform into a full-fledged business, or that a small storefront in Hayden, ID, would become a popular travel destination for knitting enthusiasts worldwide. Yet today Alpaca Direct is at the heart of a vibrant and global knitting community. With the help of the web, they’ve brought the warmth of alpaca wool to more than 100,000 customers across 30 countries. As Kelley says, “With Google tools, we can do that, and [customers] can be part of our community.”

In 2016, Google’s search and advertising tools helped provide $222 billion of economic activity for 1.5 million businesses, website publishers, and nonprofits across the U.S. Our 2016 Economic Impact Report explores that economic impact state-by-state and the local businesses that are helping to drive it.   

While working on a small leather goods line in New York City, Tanya Menendez and Matthew Burnett realized how difficult it was to find local manufacturers. In an effort to democratize that access, the two started Maker’s Row, an online marketplace that helps small businesses find American factories to make their products. They use AdWords to both establish factory partnerships and find new customers, and YouTube to, as Tanya describes, “put a face behind the products that are made in the United States.” In five years, the company has helped 120,000 small businesses source and create products in 11,000 American factories.

After serving as a U.S. Marine for six years, Nick Baucom founded a company, Two Marines Moving, in Alexandria, Virginia. His goal was to keep his fellow veterans gainfully employed, while giving local residents a moving option they could trust. Today, Two Marines Moving employs more than 100 veterans. They use Search and AdWords not only to find customers,  but also to recruit employees. Nick has opened a second location in Florida and hopes to create job opportunities for 500 veterans in the next five years, vowing that “veterans will always have a home here.”

Across the U.S., businesses large and small are using the web to find their customers, grow, and make an impact. We’re proud to be part of their stories.

Posted by Claire Mudd, Director, Americas Small Business Marketing