Everyone knows that one guy who knows everybody. Need a good mechanic? Ask him. Searching for a physical therapist? He knows somebody.
That guy is a great friend to have. But he’s got a competitor who’s getting bigger and smarter every day: Google.
Once upon a time, people searching for professional services usually started with their friends and colleagues. Someone in your social circle probably had recommendation, along with a name or a business card to give you. You looked that name up in the Yellow Pages, or typed the URL on the business card into your browser.
Those days are all but over. Today, people searching for professional services are going to start with Google. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they may ask a trusted friend or colleague, or turn to social media to crowdsource their search. But Google—instant, mobile and smarter than ever—has become the default place to start any search. The dominance of search engine referrals isn’t the future–it’s the present.
Where Referrals Come From Today
- 78 percent of consumers do product research online before they make a purchase. (Hubspot)
- 69 percent of web users trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
- 96 percent of Internet users have used a search engine to research professional services.
- 80 percent of consumers rank search engines as the most useful tool when making a buying decision. (Local Consumer Review)
Google is the new guy who knows everyone, except that this guy is available anywhere you can take a smartphone, on call 24/7 and can provide instant answers. You may still turn to your social butterfly friend, but when it comes to speed and access, he just can’t compete.
This is why search engine referrals and SEO matter more than ever for your small business website. Your business must be ranking for long tail keywords associated with your products or services, as well as your location. Simply ranking for your business name is not good enough.
Most of your potential customers aren’t searching for your company name. The web users you need to get on your site are the people who are searching for your services. Those people are probably not searching for “Sullivan & Son Mechanics” –they’re searching for “Transmission Specialist Portsmouth NH”.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: now is the time to invest in SEO. We’re not exaggerating when we say that survival of your company could depend on it.