"What have you Googled lately?" Ask anyone that question 10 years ago, and you would have gotten a strange look. But now, Googling is a part of life. When we need something, increasingly, we search for it on the Internet.
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From a branding perspective, Google has much in common with the Kleenex's, Xerox's and Rollerblades of the world. It's a brand name that has become the name for a category—a far cry from the time, not that long ago, when only the urban hipsters with Tony the Tiger shirts knew what Google was.
The Yellow Pages may not be gone, but their star is fading quickly as more and more people turn to Google (or other search engines) when they need to find a product or service. Why? Better, more complete and up-to-date information. No contest. When someone looks up a company in the phonebook, they get their address, phone number and maybe some flashy ad graphics; depending on how much money they spent on the ad. On a Google search, they get a link to the company's website, where you can find as much information on a company and its offerings as you need.
For things like books, tickets and music, Googling will often lead to an instant purchase if the price is right. But even for more "considered purchases," where one competes on more than just price; Googling is often the first research step buyers take to arrive at a decision. They search keywords and combinations of keywords, comparing each set of results to the next, looking for the most relevant information.
In a perfect world, people would systematically study three to five competitors in a selection set, write down the pros and cons of each and come to a calculated decision. But a perfect world isn't the real world. Here's what happens: if a search result looks promising, the buyer will click through to the company's website and investigate the possibilities of a match further. If it looks like a fit, case closed. Customer won. No
further research required—even if someone's out there with a better deal waiting.
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This is why being on this "short list" of high-ranking search results is imperative in this day and age—the higher the better. Top rankings give you the chance of having prospective customers knock on your virtual door, knowledgeable about your offerings and eager to buy before you ever say a single word to them.
Don't be ashamed of self-Googling
Come on, you know you've done it: typed your name into an Internet search engine such as Yahoo or MSN. Don't feel embarrassed. We all do it. It is, after all, interesting to see what others are saying about you.