Interviews

Talking Business - Julian Persaud (Google)

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Julian Persaud, head of online sales for Google, is my next guest on Talking Business. Julian has spent a number of years working in the online marketing and advertising area and will give us five golden rules for launching a website, as well as tips for small and medium businesses, how to advertise effectively online, and its importance in the current economic climate. Welcome to Talking Business, Julian.

JP
Thanks Peter, great to be here.

PS Why don’t we get an idea of how you became the Google Guy, for Australia at least?

JP I actually use to be an advertiser and I found that I was spending lots of my money on search and online advertising. I thought, anywhere I’m spending that much of my budget and getting such a great return, it would be a great place to go in one of those companies that offer those services.

PS So you loved the company so much you had to work for it?

JP That’s right.

PS You could have bought it but you couldn’t buy it.

JP No, I couldn’t buy it.

PS Alright, so let’s get to the crunch. You’ve used Google, you work now for Google, and so what are these five tips for creating a website that might be the Google of tomorrow?

JP Well it really depends what stage you’re at in terms of your evolution as a business. My job is primarily aimed at small businesses, and I think about 40 per cent of businesses have websites, and about another 20 per cent  are actually developing them. Our goal, really, is to get strong web presence. Many of the websites that are available at the moment that people are using aren’t really easy to navigate, don’t have a clear value proposition for the user and it’s not very clear what they’re meant to be doing on the website. So the first tip really is to make sure you have clarity of what you want from the consumer.

PS How do you do that? How do you do that!?

JP Well, the most important thing is to think like a customer. Twelve million people in Australia use the web every month, and many of the businesses owners are actually customers themselves, so think like a user. When you go to a website you want it to be clear what you do next. I think the average time people spend on a website can be as little as eight seconds, so if you’re not showing clearly what your business is about, what products and services you offer, you’re going to lose customers.

PS I find with the ASIC website the information’s fantastic, but it’s so complicated and it’s all over the place and by the end I get tired. What will normal people do?

JP That’s another tip Peter, I think simplistic, make sure it’s very clear and your website is easy to navigate. Is it easy to contact you, is it easy to see pricing, is it easy to fill in an application form if you’re offering the ability for a test drive, say, a car dealership? Is it easy to book a session if you’re a massage therapist, whatever the business you are, think like a customer and make sure that the customer conducts business easily on your website without having to trawl through too many pages because that frustrates people.

PS So don’t annoy the customers... So that’s two, we’ve got three more to go.

JP Well, some of this is really about some of the frustrations small businesses have because they often spend a large part of their budget on building a website. They can spend $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 and then they sit and wait, they’re kind of expecting customers to come to them, and that’s really not going to happen. So probably the next big tip is to start thinking where you’re ranking on the search engines, of course Google, Yahoo! and others. The most important thing is to ensure that you’re using paid search advertising, and Google Ad Words is an example of that, and there are others. Google Ad Words allows you to setup a campaign and appear in front of consumers who are searching for your product or services, so let me give you an example.

We have a company that uses us called Café in a Box and they offer mobile barista services. Now, until they built their website they weren’t getting much business and then they started using paid services advertising. They chose a few keywords that relate to their business – mobile barista, mobile coffee services – and they started advertising and created a set of keywords that relate to their business, a few ads and within 15 minutes they were up on Google, and so they were able to increase their business by 90 per cent in a very short time frame. So visibility is clear, Peter, and users being able to find your website is absolutely critical if you’re actually going to get return on investment.

PS We’re talking to Julian Persaud, who I’ve christened the Google Guy for this session. I’m sure he gets it amongst his friends and family. What else do we need to know about creating these websites that people turn up to?

JP One of the great things about the web overall is it’s trackable and we offer, and other companies offer as well, online tools that allow you to track the success of your website and your advertising. Things like Google Analytics, and there are other analytics packages, and what analytics means for any business is they can see what’s really happening on their website, they can login and they can see what they had, 200 visitors today and they went to X, Y and Z pages, they were looking for this product. You can even track down to the profit you make from your website. So another big tip is to take advantage of what’s unique about online marketing and web business, it’s all trackable.

PS Fantastic metrics that lets your site know how it’s going and where the changes are needed to bump it up.

JP Yeah, and it’s a level playing field really in that if you’re heavily into it and you’re a bit of a techy you can really dig deep and go into a lot of detail, whereas, if you need to be in and out and just get a snapshot of what’s happening on your website you can do that as well. So I think that some of the services that are available are often for free, a lot of these analytics services are available for free, like Google Analytics, they give you tremendous insight into your website as a small business.

PS Okay, another tip? We’ve got four...

JP Another key one I think is many people listening to this would maybe be flying off to do some business somewhere else in the country. Google allows you to target customers anywhere in the world or within the geography. Another example, Flexicar which is a Melbourne based customer of ours who just target the Melbourne area and the Victoria area for their advertising, but if you’re a business listing and a business owner and you’re targeting the French market, or the English market around the world, within 15 minutes you could be targeting your website through Ad Words to customers in those countries. So think about who your audience is and where your customers are. The web offers a fantastic mechanism to actually target people in other geographies.

PS Could you also go regionally? Like I want to become the financial planner that always comes up in Tamworth before anyone else, can you do that?

JP We’re working to get our targeting more granular, but at the moment it’s by state, which offers great opportunity for making sure your advertising budget is spent well and is targeted to people who can actually use your service in the region.

PS Okay, for an average small business, the cost of doing everything that you’ve said then, can you give as an idea of how expensive it is to be Google smart and online savvy?

JP The great thing about it is that there are low barriers to entry so you don’t need to pay huge upfront costs. You can have a budget of $10 a day, if you want to spend $10, and your ads will appear. It’s an auction, so you actually bid to be in front of consumers. Probably the greatest thing for small business, especially those who are worried about budgets, is not only can you restrict your budget to a certain amount per day, you can also adjust your campaign as you need it. So if you’ve got a new product range coming you can almost, in real-time, change your ads and change you’re bidding in accordance with that, and that seems to work very well for a lot of businesses.

PS Julian, one last question. Out there, there’s an army of consultants who have kind of passed themselves off as being experts on the secrets of Google. How do you get to the top of Google, of course Google doesn’t tell anybody, they keep it quite don’t they? It’s like the Coca-Cola secret, there’s all these experts out there who are selling to small businesses the ability to get to the top, but if everybody knew it would be a tie, everybody would be at the top at the same time wouldn’t they?

JP That’s right, there’s only one top place, Peter, as you know. It’s important to make the distinction for the listeners that it’s church and state really, the Google organic results or the natural search results and the paid advertising which we’ve talked about. As far as the organic results go, there are consultants out there who can help you make your site more visible to Google. Google also offer tools, their own free tools which Google.com/webmaster, if you go to that domain you can actually get a whole series of tools which will make sure that your sites available and visible by Google. Of course that doesn’t guarantee which position you’re going to be in, Peter. We’d encourage people to make sure their site is search engine friendly and that means not too many heavy graphics, make it lots of content, really describe what your business is doing, and then you’ve got a better chance of appearing high up on Google.

PS Because there are some tips and some warnings that should be taken on board that really do increase your chances of being at the top... like, a white background is better than a heavy flash coloured one isn’t it?

JP Well, there are lots of tips.

PS You say yes or no there, mate. All the experts there tell me it’s right. [laughter]

JP [laughter] There are lots of experts out there, and I think the great thing about the web is you can try different things, so if you’re seeing success using one particular method and it’s working for you, then that’s great.

PS Fantastic. Thank for joining us on Talking Business. And if people want to know more about getting the best out of Google, what’s that website?

JP Well, they can go to Google and they can search Google Ad Words, which is a good start in terms of the advertising, and Google Analytics, which is the way of tracking their website success.

PS Julian, thanks for joining us on Talking Business.

JP Thanks very much.

Talking Business airs on Qantas Inflight Radio. Click here to download complete Talking Business transcripts from the Qantas website.

Published: Monday, June 15, 2009

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