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What is Google Experience Optimization?

By September 2, 2021September 13th, 2021marketing, Web Strategy
Google Experience Optimization

As a marketer, trying to figure out how to rank on Google is a frustrating experience.

They constantly change their algorithms and add new products they say we MUST use, then let them die a slow painful death. Remember Google+?

I was on a marketing team at Google for a time and got to see firsthand why they do what they do.  It wasn’t as magical as you would hope, but I understood why they do what they do and how you can use this to your advantage.

That’s EXACTLY what I’m going to highlight in this post for you with the top 13 (yep you get an additional 3 on top of the top 10) things to focus on to improve your brand’s search experience on Google and how you can increase your personal Googley abilities.

Focus on Optimizing the Google Experience for the User

Yep, I’m coining a new phrase here, Google Experience Optimization or GEO.  Woohoo! But what does this mean?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) just doesn’t cut it as what we do as a digital marketer or an SEO expert anymore as there is so much we have to focus on now.

Most people (you CEOs out there) think this is all just about trying to get higher rankings for specific keywords.

But Google has made sure that is an enormously difficult task.

So let’s make something clear first. They, meaning Google, want to own as much of YOUR visitor’s experience online as they possibly can without visitors ever getting to your site.  And, if they can’t do that, they want the utmost best results so that people won’t defect to another search engine.  For the rest of us who don’t make it that high in search results (which is every business once you think about it), they want you to pay with ads to be seen so that they can make a profit.

Did you catch that? They want every… singlesecond of your visitor’s attention or they will make you pay for the visitor.

To make this happen they release lots of new ways of displaying information like Rich Snippets and FAQ so that visitors don’t have to leave Google’s properties.

Google is still a search engine, but they are trying their best to be the final answer engine using your hard work on your content creation.

So if you want to succeed with search (paid or organic) you have to learn how to use all of their tools the right way to get in front of Google’s customers (your visitors) for the lowest cost of acquisition you can get.

So let’s dive right in.

Optimizing Contact Information That Improves Google Local Search Results

This one is important if consumers or businesses find your business in your local region.

So you could be a restaurant, plumber, doctor, or even a digital laboratory that makes up new phrases like “Google Experience Optimization”.

There are several critical factors that go into local search.

First, you better make sure Google has your address correct and every other organization has the same address as well.  Otherwise, it’s going to be wrong and you’re going to frustrate customers.

Google Experience Optimization for Google Maps

Being correctly listed on Google Maps is very important because a LARGE number of people use Google Maps to find what they are looking for when they are not at home, especially places like restaurants.

The easiest thing you can do is register your business on Google My Business and enter all of the information they ask about, including your logo, hours, phone number, websites, and so on.

Google Experience Optimization for Local Search Results

As you know though, Google Maps isn’t the only service out there.  Lots of people use other map services from Apple and Bing and others.  So if you want one place to manage and update all of your listings, use a service like Synup.com or you may be doing a lot of manual work.

Optimizing Google My Business for Search Results

Google’s Knowledge Panel can pull from many different sources. But if your business has a Google My Business profile created, then it will show up in search results when someone searches for your brand.

Google Experience Optimization for Google My Business

Make sure you fill in all of the information as correctly as possible, including correct logos, relevant images and services or products you offer.  When getting reviews, you want to make sure to give them the link that GMB provides so that it is as simple as possible for them to give those reviews.

If you have products to sell like books and they are available through Google Merchant Center, Google will show them here also, like this from Jay Baer.  This isn’t something you have to do on your own.  Google will tie their properties together for you automatically.

Google Experience Optimization for GMB - Products

Optimizing the Google Knowledge Graph

There is a lot of potential information which can show in Google Knowledge Graph and it depends somewhat on your industry and available information.  Basically, the more you can help Google understand your brand, products and services, the more relevant information Google can show to people searching for your brand.

As you can imagine, there may be data you don’t want to show, but if it is available somewhere else, Google may use that information, so it is better to be as transparent as you feel comfortable with.  Remember, your goal is to provide enough enticing information to get them to click through to your site.

Below is a sample of what shows for Outback Steakhouse. We worked with them on SEO for a new website of Outback that was quite an amazing UX experience for a restaurant.

Google Experience Optimization for Snippets

As you can see, Google is going to show data from multiple sources and what it feels are important to the person doing the search. In this case, nutritional information is being shown.

Google Experience Optimization for Snippets - Menu

And finally, there are the social profiles and additional searches which it may also show for the brand.

Google Experience Optimization for Snippets - Social Media

The problem Google has when showing data is that it is sometimes hard to know what the person is searching for.  So a search on “Outback” could mean where the local restaurant is, or it could mean you want financial information, or calories in their bread, or something else entirely.  Google doesn’t know so it tries to show you a variety of information to hopefully answer your question as fast as possible in order to give them what they want.

Your job is to help Google as much as possible.  This information is generally going to be provided by Google crawling your site to find what it wants, but you can help it by using Schema information.  Schema is data that can be found in the page code that the visitor generally does not see.  If you want to learn more about Schema data, check out Schema.org to dig into the details.

Some of this data is also found in Google My Business and your social media profiles, so be sure it is consistent across any place the information can be found.

Optimizing Frequently Asked Questions in Google Search

Have you ever noticed in your search results “People also ask:” with a bunch of results?  Sometimes they appear big and by themselves, where other times they show up underneath a search listing.  These are Frequently Asked Questions and they can be super powerful for your business.  The basic idea that Google is going for is to show similar questions to your search that might better answer the question you are looking for.

As an example, here is a search on “timeshares” I did and what Google shows for its FAQ.  When you expand on these it will show an answer and a link to the page with the answer to give you more information.  The pages that these show for are typically blog posts that answer just that specific question.

Google Experience Optimization - FAQ

You can create an FAQ on your page that will also show up in search results rather than Google’s, sometimes causing Google’s FAQ not to show. Here is the result from a customer of Click showing their FAQ in the search results on the same term.

Google Experience Optimization - FAQ Schema

There are some big reasons for showing FAQs like this.

First, especially when your page ranks high, it can take up extra space on the search results and increase the likelihood that someone will pay more attention to your content.

Second, you are more likely to appear authoritative and answer additional questions they have not thought of and again, increasing the likelihood your link will get clicked.

It is quite possible to get more traffic than the first place result if your FAQ is well thought out.

In order to make an FAQ work though, you don’t simply slap a question and answer on your page.  Here are some things to do to optimize your FAQ results.

  1. Review what Google shows for their FAQ.  Focus on answering those questions because they are what Google knows are the most common questions.
  2. Click on Google’s FAQs to see additional questions related to the question you opened.
  3. You have to use some markup to actually make FAQs work.  See the page on FAQ Schemas for what your developer has to do to make them work correctly.
  4. The best amount of content is about a paragraph or two for each question.  Include a link in the content and Google (at the time of writing this) will show the link as well.
  5. Make sure answers are clear and concise.  They should be factual, not opinion.
  6. Monitor Google for changes in their FAQ results since this will change over time.

Optimizing Products for Sale on Google

Since we are talking about Google Experience Optimization, we need to talk about optimizing your products that show through Google Merchant Center.  When you have products that can be purchased online, getting the maximum number of displays, clicks and sales at the lowest CPC is important.

Many online merchants fail at this step and just assume that simply adding their products will drive sales, but it doesn’t.  Your goal is to dominate the listing, especially for key terms.

Searching on the term “landscape lighting” you will see that the company VOLT Lighting pretty much owns the space.

Google Experience Optimization with Google Merchant Center ads

There are several things you must optimize Google to rank well for products.

  1. If you have more than just a few products, you are going to create a product feed from your e-commerce website to Google Merchant Center.
  2. As you can see in the above screenshot, there isn’t a whole lot that shows but there is plenty behind the scenes that influences this.
  3. Of course your bid amount should try and get you into first position, but that’s not the only critical factor.
  4. Make sure you are providing reviews to Google that show up as the traditional star ratings. This doesn’t impact your position, but it is a psychological factor when influencing people to click.
  5. Make your pictures as clear and precise as possible so that people know what the product is.
  6. Make your product descriptions match the target keywords as much as possible.
  7. Link straight to the product page where they can check out.
  8. If its on sale, send that data because Google will add a “Sale” tag to the image.
  9. Ensure the image is coming across as the right ratio dimensions, otherwise it may look skewed and the viewer won’t realize it.
  10. Run experiments to find out what the best images, titles and descriptions are that drive the most clicks.

Optimizing Twitter Feed for Google Search Results

Did you know that your Twitter feed can show up in Google search?  I’m not a fan of Twitter at all BUT, this is yet another of those things you need to think about when tackling GEO.  Obviously, you only want to use it if you are going to take Twitter even slightly seriously.  It’s usually only going to show up on brand or name searches.

Below is an example of a search for Jay Baer.  As you can see, that second tweet didn’t have anything useful to show.  Try to always include everything possible in your tweet.

Google Experience Optimization for Twitter

  1. Google is going to do its best to show the image, user account, description, link, and when it was posted.  So consider how these may be ordered and what you want to show because Google will show the three most recent ones.  Nothing sticky here, unfortunately.
  2. Images definitely will help capture attention so be sure to use good ones.
  3. Create posts regularly.  It’s just too easy not to do this.  Yes, as a digital laboratory committed to sharing good news, we should use it way more often.
  4. It’s best if your Twitter handle is your brand, but that can be pretty hard to do.
  5. And finally, be sure to include your hashtags in your tweet.
John Paul Mains

About John Paul Mains

John Paul Mains is the Chief Marketing Scientist at Click Laboratory. He loves all things digital, but especially SEO and analytics. If you're interested in learning more, his LinkedIn profile is https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnpaulmains/.

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