Perhaps you’ve been blissfully unaware but for a number of years now, there’s been a subtle change going on…Can you feel it? It’s happening every day and is affecting businesses like yours more and more.
Without warning or a public service announcement, slowly and surely Google has been inserting itself between you and your potential clients. This is something like a bouncer at a nightclub deciding if your would-be clients get in to see you or not.
What this means is if you’re not on the front foot in this regard, you will get left behind and quickly.
In the past years, a very steady trend from Google has been doing anything they possibly can to ensure searchers do not leave Google. But, before we look at how Google does that, let’s consider why.
To understand that question, we need to look at Google’s business model and a little bit of history. When Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up Google in 1998 (it’s almost hard to remember life before Google), the truth is they weren’t sure how they were going to ‘monetise’ the product.
They figured if they could get enough people to use Google searches then eventually, they’d figure out a way to make money from it. It wasn’t until October 2000, that Google Adwords was introduced – two years after the initial launch.
Google Adwords are the paid ads that appear at the top and bottom of the Google search results. What was revolutionary at the time (and the model continues to this day) is that advertisers would only pay if someone clicked on one of the ads. This is very different to traditional media where advertisers pay for ads regardless of how successful they are.
Back in 2000, placing an Adwords Ad for ‘Sydney Dentist’, ‘Melbourne Dentist’ etc would have cost one cent a click. One cent! Given that such clicks can now be worth $10, $20, $50 each, you can see how profitable Adwords is for Google.
Have you been running Google AdWords campaigns lately? Have you noticed that your cost per click may be increasing?
As if we needed any evidence of this, in 2018, Google Ads earnt Google an unbelievable $116 billion! With this kind of money on the table, you can see why Google is constantly changing how it works to maximise that return.
It’s worth nothing that the Google changes we will discuss are not specific to dentistry but affect all businesses. While Google isn’t the only search engine in the market place, in Australia, it might as well be.
The latest data from www.statista.com (Feb 2019) shows that Google enjoys a 91.1% market share of search engine traffic in Australia. So, effectively, what happens to Google affects you, whether you like it or not.
On top of Google’s very high market share in Australia are some other telling statistics. 86% of adults use search engines to look up information on local businesses and 97% of consumers use online media to research products and services in their local area.
In other words, ignore your Google presence at your peril.
Here it is: have you noticed that in many cases, if you search for something on Google, Google gives you the answer without you needing to visit the relevant website?
For example, can I fly direct from Australia to the UK? According to Google; yes but you need to fly from Perth. No need to visit Webjet or an airline site website to find out.
How about … where was Nicole Kidman born? According to Google, Honolulu, Hawaii. No need to visit Wikipedia or IMDb to find out.
What are the opening hours at your practice? Even for that information, searchers do NOT need to go to your website – the answer just turns up at the top of the Google search results.
There are more and more of examples of Google simply providing the answers at the top of the search results to the information searchers are seeking.
Now that we know what the change is, in Part Two of this article series, we’ll look more specifically at how these changes are affecting your practice.
Driven by rising profits, Google is constantly changing how it works. The most recent change has seen searchers increasingly not needing to leave Google to find out what they want to know. In the next article, we’ll have a look at how this change is impacting dental businesses in Australia.