*SEO — Search Engine Optimization
Many business owners recognize the importance of having a web site — and are familiar with using Google to search for something. However, when faced with driving new leads and getting ranked high on Google, these same owners can go cross-eyed. If this is the first time you are thinking about getting ranked higher on Google and you have no idea where to start, this one’s for you!
Claim Your Local Listings
Step 1 — go to Google and search for your business name along with city and state for good measure. Provided your business did not just open yesterday, then on the right-hand side of the page, there will be a big rectangle featuring the name of your business. This called the Knowledge Panel. Step 2 — Look for a link “Own This Business?” Click on it. You are well on your way to being able to claim this piece of Internet real estate that truly is yours. Step 3 — complete the verification process, which can be done through a phone call to your business. Once your listing is claimed, you can update it with correct information about your business. More importantly, this action scores oodles of Google SEO points (no, those aren’t REALLY thing) — but this is a critically important part of SEO and claiming this listing will have immediate and positive impacts to your Google search result visibility.
Once comfortable with Google, repeat the process for other directories such as Bing, Yelp, TripAdvisor, YP.com and others. When you stake your claim to these listings, your business is telling the Internet and Google that you are alive and well.
Get Some Relevant Sites Linking to You
Search engines like to reward sites that seem important and relevant. One way this relevancy is measured is by having links to your site. The best links and opportunities are right under your nose. If your business is a member of any professional organization (e.g., local chamber, local trade association), make sure your membership listing includes a link to your web site. Attend a networking event? Ask the host to include a link to your web site on the list of attendees. Go to church? See if there is a business directory of church members. A few links will go a long way to improve your search ranking visibility.
Set-Up Social Media Sites
Just as Google likes to see your business is alive on its platform, it keeps an eye on the big social media sites, too. Facebook is the big one — and if you have not browsed around Facebook or set up a business page, odds are you will find your business listed as a ‘Place’ in the search results. Create a page for the business and claim the listing. Being alive on the Internet and having claimed and updated information scores more of those alleged Google SEO Points.
See Where You Stack Up
Some business owners shout out their desire to be at the top of Google yet have not even bothered to see their pole position. I have seen local businesses demanding to be #1 on Google and a search of their business type and city/state shows their business at the top of the list. Taking an inventory of placements, competition and desired phrases helps put the SEO approach in context. While this activity alone will not improve your rankings, it is rewarding to take note of before and after some of these free optimization (or paid SEO consultant) tactics are deployed.
Write About Your Business
Search engines love content — and nobody can talk about your business as well as you do. Writing about your business, its benefit to customers, its history, its story and even its products, services and promotions makes a world of different in how Google looks at your site. A short paragraph written by you that is genuine, unique and useful to customers earns lots of happy faces from Google — and will have an upward impact on your rankings. No idea how to edit your web site or add this content? Send in this snippet to some local online directories — most will be glad to publish and share this information (make sure they include a link). Or add to your claimed listings.