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Four Steps to Surviving a Relationship Break Up With Google

March 2, 2017 Chris Price

Most business owners insure against risks that could sink their business. Fire, theft, earthquake; even the loss of key personnel. All can be covered in some way by insurance, as typically the problem is fixed with money. But what about probably the biggest undiscovered risk companies may have? One that isn’t fixed with money. And one that could push a business over the edge.

Yes, I know it’s a long shot — Google deciding to pack its bags and leave the world of search. But how much are you indebted to Google for raw traffic or lead volumes, should this actually happen?

We calculated this value during on of our client strategy sessions.

You may be surprised to know that figures usually sit between 60% to 90%. (The record goes to one company that has 92% of their total website traffic and sales leads from this one source.) The top end of the scale is reserved for those highly optimised souls who are spending money on Google clicks whilst also beavering away to optimise their content for natural search. Practical things change when you remove 90% of the website-driven sales leads coming into the business. The phones go quiet. Service staff and their vans remain in the driveway with nothing to do. Payday comes around a lot faster than you would like. Doubt and fear replace busy and growing.

But what’s the point in worrying? Google isn’t going to shut up shop in a hurry, so there’s no need to plan any change — is there? Well I would check that thought. We often see people who’ve experienced the outcomes of a “loss” of Google. It could be because of the launch of a new website that’s trashed prior natural search rankings. Or the ending of  a relationship with a web optimisation supplier overseas who’s taken with them all their advertising details. Or someone hacking their website, and Google kicking them out of the index.

Whatever the reasons, here are my four steps to help guard against this happening to you.

Step #1 – Calculate the Depth of Your Relationship

Is it a flirting encounter, or a full-on, bare-all level of love? Install Google Analytics — set up some goal tracking — and calculate the percentage of traffic and leads that Google is responsible for. The installation part should be simple. The configuration for goal tracking may require some outside help and then, baboom, the results will be as plain as day to see. Where do you sit on the continuum of commitment?

Step #2 – Protect the relationship

Regular walks along the beach. Taking the time to listen — you know the stuff. Kicking off with having complete ownership of all your Google accounts is a good start, including Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google AdWords and Google Search Console. Yes, you may pay others to manage all three, but you own details for all of them. If your supplier relationships change, your relationship with Google will not. Understand what you do well and where improvements lie, like the search terms your site ranks really well naturally for. Or the ones you will always pay Google for every day of the week because they continue to deliver profitable sales leads.

Treat the relationship with the respect it deserves. If your percentage is above 70% and your knowledge of the space is lacking, then you may need to invest time and money to either upskill in the space yourself or partner with a company like ours — or do both. And if it’s 80% or more, you may not want to flit between suppliers trying to get the cheapest deal. Settle on someone you can trust, can afford and who will take the time to understand your business. Manage Change. Unfortunately one small alteration to your website or its marketing can have a disproportionately large negative effect on your percentage. Know where these “high risk” areas of change are and walk into them with your eyes open.

Step #3 – Build other online pathways

Everyone knows about the natural and paid search story with Google — but what about display advertising? Or Youtube — or even that old great email marketing? Fossick around to collect as many small places on the Internet to find the right audience for you. The more you have, the better you are protected.

Step #4 – Don’t forget physical pathways

Notice how little direct mail we are all receiving? Yes I know it’s expensive in comparison with online, but it’s a relatively uncluttered channel. Many a business has been grown from an effective direct mail/telemarketing combo strategy. When AdWords clicks are $5 or more, then the use of low cost digital print can become viable.

And that’s it. Why not take the time this week to find your percent? If it’s scary high (for example, you wince at the thought of it disappearing), then work through the first three steps to see how you can remove as much risk as you can.

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