Spending several thousand on a website only to have it listed on page five of Google sucks! So how do you, the business owner, fix this? What if I told you that you could rank higher on Google spending only 30 minutes or less? Would you keep reading?
Search engine optimization (SEO) can be very costly and time-consuming. The basics cost little-to-nothing and are take very little time. Imagine how your business could grow if you landed on page one. Keep that image fixed in your mind as we learn.
SEO Basics: The First Steps That Anyone Can Do
Target 1: Rank Higher on Google Locally
Create a Google My Business Listing (approx 15-30 mins)
Google will give you an advantage for being local. Capitalize on that by using Google My Business. This free business listing service is a must for brick and mortar businesses. Google has a vested interest in this product and gives you priority just for using it. That means that you can rank higher on Google just by using their products! It gets you into Google Search, Google Maps and OK Google voice search. You will want to add a link to your website from your new Google business profile. Provide as many details as you can. You can even repurpose your website images and add them too. Google is going to verify your listing by calling your business phone. You will want to do this at the office so you can catch the call.
Claim Existing Business Listings (approx 15-30 mins/each)
YellowPages (and 411) may already have your business listed. Claim this free listing and update it with your web address. They have all sorts of paid solutions advertised on their site. You can see what they offer or skip straight through to the free part. Make sure you have access to the listed phone number while you do this. Continue looking for existing business listings by googling your business name and see what you find. Try searching for your phone number and address too. This step is the easiest way to rank higher on Google.
Further Link Building (approx 30-50 mins)
Search for industry-specific business listings relevant to your business. Some of these may have registration forms. Others may require an email to the website administrator. If you need help getting on, find an email on the site and ask for help. Restaurants will want to be on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Contractors will want to be on their association’s websites. There is the BBB, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more. Make sure your address and contact information is identical in each place. You are looking for reputable sites to help boost your website’s visibility. More details on link building in our article Backlinking Made Simple.
Give Out Directions and Local Phone Numbers (approx 10-15 mins)
Put your address on every page of your website. List your local area phone numbers alongside the toll-free number (if you have one). Take it a step further and give directions from city landmarks to your address. You can also list the service areas, making sure to mention the suburbs, towns and villages. You will want to do this on any business listing that you can.
Target 2: Gain Credibility
Solicit Customer Reviews (approx 30-50 mins)
Ask your customers to leave you a review on your Google business listing. Make it easy for people to leave reviews. You could have a link to the review page in your email signature, on newsletters, etc.. Train your customer service people to ask for them. Start collecting reviews on other sites as well. Search “best [your business] in [your city].” You will see which sites you need to get on. Ask for reviews on Facebook if you have a Facebook page. Medical Offices will want to be using RateMDs. Make sure to claim and participate on any site that people are already using to review your business. You may even be able to get into blogs’ top 10 listings if you email them and ask.
Answer People’s Questions (approx 30-50 mins)
Look for questions that you can answer authoritatively. Search Quora, forums, Facebook groups, and blogs to see how you can be of help. Your Quora profile allows you to post information about you and your business. Many blogs and forums have a place for a website link. If you see questions coming up over and over, you should seriously consider posting a comprehensive answer on your website. Just don’t be spammy when you go around and participate on these other sites. Your goal is to help. Tell them the solution you use within your business. The authority you gain will more than compensate for any risk of other copying your methods.
Improve Public Relations Online(approx 30-50 mins)
Who are the local reporters in your area? When is the last time you talked to them about your business? Your city or town likely has an online news portal of some kind. Offer to provide them content or expert advice anytime they run a story relating to your industry. Suggest a Q&A column where you answer reader’s questions. You do not need to be a great writer to do this. Some companies are running provincial news sites. Get yourself into these places. HARO (help a reporter out) can connect you with journalists in highly respected media outlets. They are looking for information that you can provide. It is an excellent way to build authority for your business and rank higher on Google.
There you go, seven ways you can rank higher on Google, increase your business’s visibility online and drive traffic to your website. There are things you can do yourself without having to hire an SEO expert. Try this free SEO audit tool if you would like to take it to the next level.