Learn about online marketing with Google’s Digital Garage
I recently completed the Google Digital Garage Certification and I wanted to share my experience as I found it really accessible and a mine of useful information on how to market your business online. The Digital Garage is a perfect starting place for those wishing to get a grasp on online marketing.
The online course is divided into 23 topics and each topic consists of several concise videos with a question to answer at the end of each to consolidate learning. There is a slightly longer multiple-choice assessment at the end of each topic.
There are two video presenters both of whom speak in clear and concise terms without unnecessary jargon – any industry specific words used are clearly explained.
The course is completely free; all you have to do is sign up and work your way through each topic, earning badges as you go until, once you’ve completed each section, you receive your certificate.
The Digital Garage covers everything from email marketing, social media, to e-commerce but I thought I’d cover a couple of my personal highlights below.
Getting started with search
Some key terms are described in this section:
Crawling – Search engines such as Google and Bing send out ‘spiders’ or ‘bots’ which scour the internet to find the websites which contain the most relevant information relating to certain keywords.
Indexing – Websites found to contain relevant information will be indexed by the search engines. Sites that are not indexed cannot be found using search.
Ranking – This refers to a website’s position in a search engine’s results, depending on what search term has been entered.
A great point that’s made in this module is that not everything the bots find makes it onto the search engine’s index. As I often explain to people who are wondering if they need new content for their website, it’s vital for good search engine rankings; those web pages featuring poor, non-existent or duplicate content may either not be indexed at all or will feature towards the bottom, rather than the top, of the virtual pile.
The issue of duplicate content is an interesting one. If you have an ecommerce website you will likely have a description for each product. It’s important that even similar products are given unique descriptions and that the manufacturer’s copy is never used, as once the bots spot duplicate content, a decision has to be made about which page is indexed, and they will only keep one!
Although there are hundreds of ways search engines determine rank, the main factors are the words on the page, the number of other websites linking to it and the freshness of the content.
Get discovered with search
There’s some really useful information in this block about keyword research.
I think perhaps the best point on choosing the right keywords is the importance of bearing in mind that the most frequently searched for words are not always the best ones to choose.
This may seem counter intuitive, however, if you are a small business or just starting out, you won’t be in a position to compete with large, established companies who may rank on the first page of Google for a frequently searched-for keyword. Instead, go for keywords with less competition.
There are loads of low search volume words – this is what’s known as the long tail of SEO. So, for example, if you own a fuel supply business, rather than focusing on ‘coal delivery’, which will have a very high search volume, try ‘get coal delivered in Cumbria’. For small businesses, the long tail is where you will find most success with SEO.
It’s important to make sure the chosen keywords match the intent of the people searching… there are tools such as Google Search Console which allow you to see which pages appear in people’s searches and which get clicks.
Despite the importance of making sure your content contains relevant keywords, it’s vital that you always write for your customers… not for the search engines.
What I’ve talked about here only begins to scratch the surface of even these two topics, let alone all the others that make up the Google Digital Garage. Hopefully it gives a flavour of what you can expect. There’s nothing to be daunted about… try just one video a day. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to complete and the great thing is you can revisit the videos as many times as you like… I watched a few again before I wrote this in fact.
Go on… if I can do it, you can.