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3 Ways Google Can Help Small Business Owners in 2022

As part of the Pitt SBDC’s “3 Ways Google Can Help Small Business Owners in 2022” webinar, the course instructor Zack Duncan provided a blog post on the topic to help small business owners with knowing the tools and how they can be used to support revenue generating activities. Learn more on the topic below and, if interested, learn more and register for the upcoming webinar on Wednesday, February 9, 2022.


Google is ubiquitous in terms of the tools and platforms that so many of us use to live our lives. Whether it’s email, calendars, or navigation, the big G has developed tools that improve efficiency and can make life simpler.

For small business owners, there are some hugely powerful tools to take advantage of. But many of us don’t know how to use them properly. Let’s get started with Google Analytics.

Google Analytics: For Website Measurement and Analysis

Google Analytics is a web analytics platform that tracks and reports website traffic, customer behavior, and much more. It’s currently running on 87% of the top 10,000 websites in the world. It’s also 100% free for the vast majority of sites that use it (enterprise level websites are the exception).

It can also be challenging to use, and many small business owners aren’t using it at all or aren’t using it properly.

How can Small Business Owners Benefit?

Business owners can learn more about their customers through Google Analytics. Demographic and interest reporting will show web activity by age, gender, interests, and what types of things they are actively in the market for. For example, on the Root and Branch site I can see that the most common age demo is 25 – 34 year olds, followed by those who are 35 – 44. And about 6 in 10 are male.

I can also see that the most common In-Market Segment” (what Google believes these folks are “in the market” for) is people looking for advertising and marketing services. This isn’t super surprising. But when I look at items number 7 and 10 on the list, I can also see that there is an active contingent of job seekers who are likely trying to improve their digital marketing skills and taking advantage of the training resources on the site. All of these insights can help me understand my web visitors better which can help me create more useful content and position it properly.

Google Analytics will also help you understand how your current digital marketing efforts are performing. Are you active on social media with your business? Or have you been trying to work on SEO for your site? Traffic acquisition reporting will show you how you’re performing and where you might want to increase your efforts.

Behavior reporting will help you understand what specific pages are most popular on your site and may provide ideas for more content to create in 2022.

And if you set up conversion tracking, you’ll be able to understand how your website leads to (or doesn’t lead to!) the most important actions on your site like completed sales, submitted contact forms, and email newsletter subscriptions.

Who It’s For

Anyone business that uses a website to help sell to customers or to educate and connect with prospects.

Who It’s Not For

If you aren’t really interested in analytics and have no intention of changing that (and don’t have anyone on staff who is), it’s probably not a great idea to invest time in Google Analytics. It won’t do you much good to set up the platform if you don’t have the bandwidth to actually analyze the data.

What is Changing in 2022 for Small Business Owners?

In 2022, small business owners need to know that Google is in the process of rolling out a new “type” (property) of Google Analytics. The new Google Analytics is called Google Analytics 4 (or GA4). Things are a little complicated because the prior version (called Universal Analytics) is still a much more robust tool and likely will continue to be for some time.

So we’re in a bit of an in-between spot where what we’ll be doing in 2 years probably isn’t what we’ll be doing now.

What is One Thing to Do Now?

First and foremost, all website owners should install both GA4 and Universal Analytics (UA) on their site. GA4 will collect data for future analysis, while UA will likely be useful throughout 2022. If you’d like to learn more about the two property types, this comparison on GA4 vs. UA is a worthwhile read.

Otherwise, you can check out the video links below to see how to install Universal Analytics or GA4:

Google Business Listing: For Local Search Dominance

Nearly half of the estimated 2 trillion plus searches per day on Google have local intent. These are search queries like “coffee near me”, “ best pizza in Philly”, or “best bars in Pittsburgh”. And these searches have very high intent, with 88% of local searches from Mobile devices resulting in a call or visit to a business within a 24 hour period. These are customers just looking for the best place to spend their money.

The most important part of winning these high intent, local searches is showing up in something called the “Local 3 Pack” (also called the Local Pack or the Map Pack) on the Google SERP. Taken together, the Local Pack gets about 50% of all clicks on the SERP. And the Local Pack shows up with a whopping 93% of all searches with local intent!

And guess what is the primary driver of who gets to show up in the Local Pack? That’s right! It’s the Google Business Profile (formerly called Google My Business).

Getting in the Local Pack is the holy grail of Local SEO, and it all comes down to having an awesome Google Business Profile.

How can Small Business Owners Benefit?

We all know SEO can be a complicated discipline. There is a lot to learn and that can discourage even the best businesses from jumping in. And that’s a shame, because the Google algorithm is actually designed to reward the best businesses by making it easier for new customers to find them.

But the playing field is leveled with Local SEO and the Google Business Profile. Instead, business owners can have success simply by using the Google Business Profile (formerly called Google My Business) to full effect. And these local searches are some of the most valuable searches to rank for in SEO because they directly lead to calls, visits, and conversions.

Who It’s For

Any business that has a physical location and serves customers from a given geography. The Google Business Profile is the same engine that drives Google Maps. Businesses that show up on maps (rather than virtual or home-based businesses, for example), get a leg up.

So if you’re a plumber or electrician or dentist or dermatologist or coffee shop or brewery or daycare or locksmith or landscaping business, you should absolutely be using your Google Business Profile.

An important part of sustained success is getting great reviews. It’s not the most important, but it’s up there. So businesses that care about great customer service are also at an advantage. If you’re willing to take the time to respond to reviews (both good and bad) and you care about resolving any negative customer experiences, this is definitely the place for you.

Who It’s Not For

If you’re an Ecommerce retailer, you don’t need to care as much about the Google Business Profile. Customers don’t really care where you’re physically located, and in a sense, neither does Google.

Also, if you regularly get negative feedback from customers and aren’t willing or able to make changes to respond to it, you likely won’t get much benefit from a Google Business Profile. After all, the Local 3 Pack is designed to reward the businesses that Google believes will deliver the best experience for customers.

What is Changing in 2022 for Small Business Owners?

In 2022, the platform is called the Google Business Profile instead of Google My Business. What’s not changing is that it’s still hands-down the single, most important platform for local search visibility for any business that serves customers from a given geography.

What is One Thing to Do Now?

If you haven’t already claimed and verified your Google Business Profile, you should absolutely do it right now. Head on over to mybusiness.google.com and hit the blue “Manage now” button to claim your business. You’ll need to verify it through a phone call or a postcard that Google will mail to you.

From there, you should review your Primary Category. Most business owners don’t know this, but your Primary Category is the #1 most important ranking factor within the Google Business Profile. So check out how you’re set up today, then review your Insights reporting to see if the specific search queries you’re showing up for are the types of terms that are most important to your business. If they are not, it may be time to change that Primary Category. Check out the video tutorial below for more about changing your Primary Category.

From there, continue to do all the other things that matter for ranking in the 3 Pack. Add new pictures. Generate new positive reviews, and then respond to them. Keep your business hours updated. Refresh your business description if it doesn’t accurately describe what you do. Above all, just care about what your customers are saying and the rest will come naturally.

Google Ads: For Paid Digital Advertising in Search, Display, Video and More

Google’s parent company Alphabet had $183 billion dollars of revenue in 2020. About 80% of that ($147B) was from advertising.

Google Ads is the paid advertising platform for Search, Display, Video, Shopping, and more. It is the single biggest advertising platform in the world.

How can Small Business Owners Benefit?

Google likes to say that it’s advertising platform offers business owners “relevance, control, and results.”

Relevance comes from the fact that ads can be finely targeted based on geography (e.g. city, zip code, radius targeting), demographics, interests, keywords, and more.

Control because business owners can set their own daily budget and Google will honor those settings. And campaigns can easily be turned off whenever necessary.

Results come from a clear understanding of business goals and using the proper type of advertising to address those goals. For example, a business launching a location in a brand new market may want to run cost-effective digital banner ads (Display Ads) to help raise awareness. Or an established business in a competitive market may choose to run Search Ads to pay for placement at the top of the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) to take share from competitors. Whether the goal is driving awareness or driving leads, the data in the Google Ads platform makes it possible to measure results in a way that offline advertising doesn’t.

Who It’s For

Any business that has the following 3 things.

First, a clear understanding of marketing goals. You should know if your primary objective is to drive awareness, drive traffic, or drive leads before you can use Google Ads properly.

Secondly, a clear understanding of customer value. It won’t help to acquire new customers at $150 in advertising spend per acquisition if a new customer is only worth $100.

Finally, a business must have a budget that it’s willing to spend. Personally, I think that $300 per month can be considered the floor for getting serious about Google Ads. At this relatively low level of spend, a business owner should plan on managing the campaigns themselves as outside specialists may charge a minimum of $200 per month in management fees.

Who It’s Not For

Any business that doesn’t have the 3 things above will likely not have success with Google Ads. Additionally, if you don’t have a clear way to communicate your value proposition relative to your competitors, Google Ads (or paid advertising in general) will be unlikely to help.

What is Changing in 2022 for Small Business Owners?

Google is increasingly changing the Google Ads platform to be more reliant on automation and machine learning. This means that some small business owners that know how to set up their campaigns, may be able to manage their own advertising themselves. In the old days, an outside consultant or agency was almost always needed to manage the many manual actions required to create a high performing account. This is still the case for complicated accounts, but I believe many small businesses can now have success on their own if they are properly informed.

For example, check out the video below for an explanation of “automated bidding” which can be used for Google to manage your keyword bids for you.

Link to automated bidding video.

What is One Thing to Do Now?

If you’re considering Google Ads for the first time, you should decide whether you want to run your advertising campaign yourself or hire an outside firm to do it for you. If you (or someone on your team) will be doing the work, the best place to start is getting certified in Google Ads Search. You can do that for free at https://skillshop.withgoogle.com/ with a Gmail address or other Google linked email. Check out the video below for a walkthrough to make sure you’re finding the right course.

From there, you can get started in creating your account at https://ads.google.com/.

Best of Luck in 2022!

Google has ample resources that can help small business owners in this new year. If you find that you’re getting everything you can out of Google Analytics, the Google Business Profile, and Google Ads, congratulations to you! From there, I’d recommend you consider checking out Google Search Console. It’s a free platform that can supercharge your SEO efforts. Best of luck and have fun out there!


Interested in learning more? Sign up for the Pitt SBDC’s 1-hour webinar, “3 Ways Google Can Help Small Business Owners in 2022” on February 9, 2022.