Google is changing how it indexes and ranks websites, and they reward the prepared. In this episode, Michael and Chris discuss:
  • Google’s algorithm and the evolution of search advertising
  • How Google algorithm changes—and new priorities like voice search—impact your marketing
  • Why continuing to learn about and try new SEO tactics is a good investment in the future of your business
For more information on the tools and resources mentioned in this episode, please visit:

You can find a transcript of this episode below.

Episode Transcript

Chris Raines: Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential and industrial painters to grow their businesses in their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from searchprimer.com, the experts in digital marketing for the trades. All right. Welcome to episode 35 of Grow Your Painting Business, the podcast from searchprimer.com, the first podcast of 2020.

Michael Utley: Hey Chris, happy Friday.

Chris Raines: How are you doing? Happy Friday to you.

Michael Utley: I’m good. I’m a little frustrated. I went to CarMax to try to buy a truck today. I was so confident, I had gone through the website, picked it, put a hold on it and even got the email confirmations and the text confirmations. Test drive was scheduled, had an appointment booked. I tried to call twice to confirm this morning, just in case there’s some crazy problem, could not get anybody on the phone and went in and even after all these different systems that were set up to confirm it, they didn’t have the vehicle on the lot.

Chris Raines: Oh my gosh.

Michael Utley: Yeah. Service department had loaned it out.

Chris Raines: Literally, it was loaned out?

Michael Utley: Yeah, we’ve bought from them before, so they’re working on it, but-

Chris Raines: Oh well, customer service.

Michael Utley: Kind of blew half day, but I think for our listeners that’s kind of a lesson in, you can have a lot of really great stuff, a lot of great marketing, but if you’re saying, “Come in, come in, come in.” you need to do things like answer the phone.

Chris Raines: And give them the experience they’re expecting once they agree to buy, as our friend Bill Seaver would say, “Everything is marketing.”

Michael Utley: Everything is marketing. Like having the product that you say, 10 times that you have, that’s marketing.

Chris Raines: And the reason everything is marketing, is because everyone’s a media producer, right? Right now we’re recording a podcast and we have the ability to do that in 2020 and we’re talking about a bad experience. They’re actually a great company, I’ve had good experiences with them.

Michael Utley: Yeah, me too.

Chris Raines: They’re a great company, but this one instance.

Michael Utley: That’s right and I dug into it and I’ve been kind of tweeting trade messages with corporate and they’ve been responsive and it’s just something, you have to think about operations is really tough. I’ll tell you, I think where it gets hard, it’s not so much, I mean, software is tough, but it’s when you get to that level and you’ve got multiple systems that maybe don’t always talk to each other, but you’re always dealing with humans, that’s the problem. So if you’ve got managers, if you’ve got folks going out into different people’s houses or their commercial properties or their manufacturing facilities, anytime you deal with humans, you’re going to have problems that come up.

Chris Raines: Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well Michael, today’s episode is called, it’s Google’s world, we just live in it. So we’re going to talk about that in one second, before we do that, I want to plug our free website audit for painting contractors. So if you’re a painting contractor or you own a painting contracting business and you understand that it’s Google’s world and we live in it, and you’ve heard of other people getting leads from Google and people that are succeeding on Google and using Google to get leads and get sales, but you’re not there and you’re not getting sales from your website, there is a reason for that and it’s not some weird esoteric art, it’s a science, it’s SEO.

Chris Raines: So what we’re offering is a free audit of your website to point out the problems and reasons why you might not be getting leads from your website. So to get that free audit, go to searchprimer.com, scroll down to the bottom and just click the button for your free audit and fill out the couple, two or three fields there and we’ll get back to you probably within 48 hours.

Michael Utley: 24 hours typically.

Chris Raines: And take advantage of that free audit. So go to searchprimer.com, take advantage of that. So let’s talk about it. Michael, this was your episode that you titled, you title most of the episodes, which is good. If I title them, they’d probably be more click baity. You’ll never believe who’s world we live in.

Michael Utley: Yeah, just click to find out.

Chris Raines: No, it’s Google’s world, we just live in it. So Michael, how does this apply to a painting contractor or contractor?

Michael Utley: So a lot of the companies we work with, they’re not necessarily small one man operations, it’s not one guy with a paintbrush and a truck. It’s typically, we’re talking to folks who are doing, if they’re in the residential space, they’re hitting around a million all the way up to 5 to 10 million. And then on the commercial industrial side, a lot of our clients are more in the range of between 5 and 25 million. A lot of them are purchasing, acquiring other businesses and expanding their footprint to expand to either surrounding states or markets that they’ve decided are desirable. So we work with a lot of different types of companies.

Michael Utley: So what I’m talking about here, when I say it’s Google’s world, we just live in it. There’s something that I’ve seen over the years that I think is really dangerous for marketing managers, executives and anyone who has maybe a few years of experience, maybe they’re more senior. I’m in my mid to late 40s, so I think I could kind of relate to this, but sometimes there’s a lot of resistance to new things, especially new marketing realities, new marketing channels.

Michael Utley: And we’re taking Google as kind of an example here, but this really applies to Google, Facebook/Instagram, Yahoo, Bing, all these different companies, they’re doing things that are capturing the attention of our target audience and people who need, say industrial painting services or equipment sandblasting, they’re getting on search engines and they’re trying to find solutions to their problem. So whenever there’s a change in the features or a change in something, there’s a real risk here, if somebody’s moving our cheese and not telling us and it’s dangerous. And so we’ve got to develop an openness and I just want to talk a little bit about kind of the history of Google and just use them as one example, but talk about how to have a mindset for staying open to what’s happening and not getting left behind.

Chris Raines: I mean, if anything that involves Gary V, Gary V would call this marketing in the year that we live in. So finding out where the attention is, because here’s the thing-

Michael Utley: Yeah, that’s a good one.

Chris Raines: Google’s got the attention right now and the trust, people distrust Google that they will deliver them the best result for what they asked, right?

Michael Utley: Yeah.

Chris Raines: But there’s going to be a time, this is kind of a weird mind thing, but how are you preparing yourself for a post Google world? I think about that sometimes. Google won’t always be the juggernaut that it is, so one day the people will talk about Google like it’s the yellow pages. Like, “Oh, you’re still advertising on Google? That’s old school man, old school.”

Michael Utley: “You’re still typing your ideas? Wow.”

Chris Raines: But yeah, voice. So right now, Google has all the trust and the attention, so that’s where we should be.

Michael Utley: So thinking back about Google and just kind of looking at it historically, in the beginning Google was primarily a search engine. They had an idea for technology, there was go for an ad, FTP and there were some different things, but then Netflix hit… Or excuse me, Netscape hit and everyone had sort of this graphic interface for browsing all the pages that were out there and so there were some little search engines before Google, but what they did first was they created an algorithm that was just better at understanding intent. It was better at understanding what somebody’s trying to do with this search and they were very clever about how they did that and then the second big thing that happened, was they knew that advertising was going to be part of their model, but they were actually not the first big company in search advertising. Yahoo bought a company, I believe called Overture for 1.2, 1.3 billion dollars and so Yahoo was definitely sort of the first commonly known name that was kind of a first mover in that space.

Chris Raines: You want to know the first web search engine I used?

Michael Utley: Oh okay.

Chris Raines: WebCrawler, remember WebCrawler?

Michael Utley: WebCrawler, wow.

Chris Raines: I was a WebCrawler user.

Michael Utley: So that’s like a pre AltaVista I think or right around that time.

Chris Raines: I was young, I was maybe a teenager, probably pre-teenager to be using WebCrawler.

Michael Utley: That would have been via AOL dial up or something.

Chris Raines: Heck yeah.

Michael Utley: I was at the university of Tennessee and we had, of course access to the internet as soon as it existed, but it was before really graphic interfaces for browsing. So we had some terminal based browsing, we had some other stuff, but Google got into the ad game and they had sales reps who are actively selling and what you could do is you could pay them to kind of set up your program and run it. You just gave them your budget, they would manually do stuff, but then they created, I can’t remember who it was, but there was somebody who was innovative. It was a woman and she convinced them to create a sidebar. I’m here on Wikipedia trying to find out her name, but she was sort of at a stalemate with the sales reps, because they did not want someone to change what they were selling and what they were doing.

Michael Utley: But she was able to convince them to create a sidebar with some additional real estate for ads and so the ads on the top for a while were sales rep driven, and the ads on the sidebar were essentially ad words marketplace and people could bid. And what happened was, the ads on the sidebar were generating three times the revenue per click, compared to the human managed ads at the top of the results. And so, Larry and Sergey being smart guys, said “Three times the money is better than one times the money.” Guys who work for her now and that was the smart thing to do and they moved all of it over into this, essentially an algorithm for matching up ads with search queries.

Michael Utley: So you’ve really got two algorithms that are very different from one another, that created this economic engine that has sort of torn a hole in the fabric of the universe. Google is now just a moneymaking machine, it’s like in science fiction, if there’s these various ideas around nano goo, that anything it touches it turns into more machines that eat matter and if this stuff exists, it’s just going to spread until the entire universe is nano goo and nothing else exists. Well that’s kind of what’s happened with Google and so they’re able to afford to test a lot of different ideas. You can think back to Google Sites and Google+.

Chris Raines: Remember Wave?

Michael Utley: Wave.

Chris Raines: I was on Wave.

Michael Utley: All these things they’ve tried, Google Glass even, with the hardware and they’ve done a lot of hardware stuff now. A lot of this stuff has been tried and you think, “Gosh, when are they going to run out of juice for these ideas that don’t work?” The answer is probably a hundred years, it’s probably going to be about a hundred years before we’re talking about Google slowing down. That’s maybe the number of times that the leadership will have turned over, generations will live past, before they’re not testing things with tens of millions of dollars, that we all have to kind of figure out. Because guess what, it affects our businesses, it affects how we engage with the world.

Michael Utley: Gmail started filtering out a lot of commercial email more effectively, which was good for spam, but what if you’re actually a legitimate company trying to reach out to somebody. So there are a lot of things that have changed now. Over the years, it’s interesting, I sense a lot of resistance and I think the message here today is just, you got to accept it and so that’s kind of my big thought here.

Chris Raines: And in terms of peering on the horizon and we were talking about this before we started, before we hit record on this podcast, but the thing on the horizon right now is voice. So for years people have used the keyboard to input, whether it’s a keyboard on your desktop or a keyboard on your mobile phone, to input things on to Google or a search engine or on YouTube or whatever and voice through Google Assistant and you’ve got Siri’s doing voice, Amazon’s doing voice. That’s going to continue to rise, the trajectory is very clear on that, it’s going to continue to rise.

Chris Raines: So here’s the thing for painter’s. At some point somebody’s going to try to order painting for their interior house or business, in the same way that they order pizza. Right now people go, “Hey Google, I need a pizza near me. What pizzas are near me?” And Google will say, “Hey, there’s a Domino’s two miles from you and there’s a Papa John’s four miles away. Papa John’s has a special for blah, blah, blah, blah.” So thinking about in the future, that’s not so much now because most people still do use the keyboard, but there’s going to come a time where people trust Google so much that they’re just going to say, “I need somebody to paint my walls, find me someone to paint my walls.” How are you going to show up? How are you going to be the person, the company that the Google voice says back to that person, “Oh yeah, Michael Utley Painting Company is running a special right now, $200 off for interior painting.” So how are you going to be the person that shows up in a voice world?

Michael Utley: How are you going to not miss the opportunity? And we’re not saying, “Hey, everybody needs to be in paid search or whatever.” But search engines are a function of modern life and it’s not just for consumers, it’s B2B as much as it is B2C. Everybody’s kind of woken up to that now and we’re going to even talk about that more in our next episode, B2B is B2C, is what we’re going to talk about. And Chris, the way that I think about the constant evolution of this, it’s sort of like if anyone’s ever heard of Moore’s Law, that the price of computer memory is going to be cut in half every certain number of years. There’s sort of a Moore’s Law that is in place to bandwidth and delivering content out to thinner and thinner channels of bandwidth. So let me tell you what I mean by this.

Michael Utley: There was a time when thought of computers, as we entered the network age with the beginning of the internet, we thought of it as a desktop experience. Well, that’s not the case anymore. Right now the internet is primarily a cell phone or a smartphone type of experience and desktops are secondary and the way we’ve seen that is in the move toward responsive design to better service those mobile experiences, but it’s changing the way everyone should be thinking about this. Well, as we’re moving into an age of the network of things, we’re going to have more screens and more voice interaction nodes with the internet, that are not necessarily just going to be pucks that we purchase and put in houses. Because somebody wanted an Alexa puck for Christmas or something, but instead of it just being these products, it’s going to be eventually ambient.

Michael Utley: So someone gets in their car and they’re heading out of the office on Friday afternoon and they say, “Alexa, I need a pizza to pick up on the way home.” Okay, well what’s happening there? Well, suddenly it’s not just that they’re in their car, we’ve got voice internet in car in a lot of instances now, but they’ve already trusted enough of their lives and enough of their situation and their needs, over to the voice assistant that it can know, oh yeah, home means this destination. Well, I’m going to retroactively think about which pizza places are the best, because if we give the pizza place more time, your pizza is going to be ready closer to when you’re there and it’s going to be hotter when you get home. So I’m going to work backwards from home to work and I’m going to give you a sequence set and I’m probably going to have some advertisers there who are willing to put an offer out to try to get you to use them instead of the others, to use your pizza example.

Michael Utley: So as we move further and further out on the tips of the branches with bandwidth, internet is going to become much more ambient, even if it’s not personal devices, even if it’s just places we go. Right now we have kiosks at the mall, who would have thought somebody would throw computers for free out into the hallways of a building, just so people who happen to be walking by can use them. But an internet connected kiosk, we would totally take that for granted now. Well, that’s what’s going to happen with ambient search and so how are we going to market people who are ambiently interacting with our services? And maybe they don’t sound that committed, maybe they’ve just got a couple of minutes on the elevator, so they’re just clicking through a couple of ideas to think about who they’re going to reach out to when they get to their desk. It’s a different world and we have to always stay open minded to what’s happening and what’s changing.

Chris Raines: I love it and it’s all about attention and trust. Right now Google has attention and trust.

Michael Utley: I think you’re right on that, I think what you’re doing there is you’re not saying, “Hey, look at who the big players are today and they’re big because of this and this and this.” You’re saying, “No, no, no. At the end of the day, here’s what’s really happening, people understand the experience they’re going to get.” And that’s why the CarMax thing was so crazy, it’s like these guys are the best. I’m looking on the wall and I pointed at it, I pointed to the wall with the guy and I said, “Do you see what that says, the way car buying ought to be? I just spent a half day and there’s no car here. What are we going to do about this?” And he was like, “Yeah, you’re totally right. Here’s what I’m going to do about it.” And as soon as Google doesn’t have that trust, that’s when they’re going to start to go away.

Chris Raines: And then we’ll be doing podcasts on, how to show up on hibbityjibbity.com. It’s all just attention and trust arbitrage. What do people trust? Where do people have their attention? How do you show up there in a relevant way?

Michael Utley: I will say this, there’s kind of a joke among SEO professionals, SEO of course is Search Engine Optimization, showing up higher in search results. We do a lot of SEO, that’s what SearchPrimer is. We also run a lot of paid search campaigns, which is more of what we’ve been talking about with like, “If you go here, you get $2 off your pizza.” That’s more maybe advertising, we do all that too, but at the end of the day it’s about trust and the interesting thing is, there’s a kind of a joke among SEO professionals, that SEO is dead. And I guest lectured over to the businesses at Vanderbilt recently and when I was putting together my slides for talking to them about SEO and entrepreneurship, I found one which was the size of investment in SEO specifically, search engine optimization over the years. And it’s a multi multibillion-dollar industry now and it’s a consistent chart. It’s up into the right, it has grown in investment, year, after year, after year.

Michael Utley: So we’re in the tens of billions of dollars that companies are spending. I mean, I don’t know how big the American economy was in 2019 yet, I don’t know if the GDP numbers had been released for the year yet. We’re here on the first couple of days, January, but it is a fundamental reality that if there is a way for consumers to sift through options for a product or service, there’s going to be a way and a game plan for reaching those people as they’re sifting. And so this is not going away, it’s just going to get more and more complicated and complex and I would say we’re at the point where no single definition of SEO is adequate. It depends, I think we have absolutely reached that tipping point, an SEO no longer has a single definition.

Chris Raines: That’s great and we’ll end with that and just one more time before we leave here. If you are a painting contractor and you want to know more about all this stuff, you want to know more about search engine optimization, how to show up higher in search results, how to get more leads, how to get more sales from Google, whose world we live in. I’d go to searchprimer.com, scroll down to the bottom and get your free audit.

Michael Utley: Absolutely. Thanks Chris.

Chris Raines: All right, see you next time. The grow your painting business podcast is a free service of searchprimer.com. Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing, searchprimer.com.