We all rely on Google’s powerful search engine to basically help us run our lives. From confirming if it’s really true love that we’re feeling, to finding out the name of that TV character actress from our childhood, and to medically diagnosing our cold symptoms, we really aren’t so sure where we would be without it. It’s so easy to think of this platform as something we use to find information about other people, but as a small business owner, you also need to be thinking proactively about how people are using it to find you.
You actually have a lot of tools at your disposal to earn your website a great spot on Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs). In this article, we’ll review what exactly those resources are and how to make the best use of them.
Even though the massive search engine can feel like a big soup of content at times, there are actually organized systems at work that determine which sites appear before others. While ‘the Wiz’ will be by your side waving its wand, it can only serve you well to have a clear understanding of the spells that are being cast.
These are some of these critical factors that organize the SERPs, and offer the six steps you should follow for each one to get found on Google:
- Submit your site to Google
- Lay a link trail
- Choose the perfect keywords
- Manage your meta tags
- Optimize for mobile
- Prove that you’re a local
01. Submit your site to Google
You might think that Google is omniscient, but even the most powerful rulers need a little help sometimes. While your website will inevitably be found at some point by the Google bots constantly crawling the web’s content, you can take a few actions to speed up this process. The first step is giving Google a quick heads up that you exist by submitting your site to Google. You can do this by sending over your sitemap to Google Search Console. It’s the tech equivalent of waving hello and giving Google a little nudge to speed up the indexing of your website.
02. Lay a link trail
The friendly reminder of your presence doesn’t need to stop with submitting your site, though. Another way to direct those bots to your site is by planting links elsewhere on the web. When the bots reach those blue text hyperlinks, it’s like they receive a command to proceed directly to your website. If you have friends in high (blogging) places who are happy to give you a shout out in one of their posts, then you should start thinking of a good ‘thank you’ present. But if your friend or professional circles aren’t full of website owners, then no fret. You can also be your own best friend and send the bots to your website by posting the URL in all of your social media profiles and online directories for your industry or geographic area. Besides being incredibly convenient for potential customers to have your business’ homepage so easily accessible, each location where you place that link becomes another superhighway straight to your beautiful website.
03. Choose the perfect keywords
You might have heard these things called keywords mentioned a lot in conversations about appearing on Google. But what are they and why should you care? Good keywords are usually three-to-five word long phrases that a person might search to find a business like yours. They’re important because when there’s a match between the words people are typing into the search box and the words you’ve incorporated into your site’s content and SEO settings, it means your listing is more likely to appear. So, if someone is searching for “vegan recipes” and “dog food,” and vegan homemade pet snacks just happens to be your life’s work, then you’ll want to have made sure those likely keywords appear throughout your site. That way, Google will know that your business’ page is a good candidate to suggest for that animal lover.
Let’s expand on this keyword logic a little bit more to explore some other ways these phrases can help boost your Internet popularity. Think for a second about what leads you reaching for your nearest device to consult Google’s wisdom. Sometimes, like the doggie snacks above, it’s a more general query. Yet, often, you’re searching for the answer to a very specific question. ‘What is the weather today?’ ‘What temperature should I bake this cake at?’ ‘How do I get my website found on Google?’ You know, questions like that.
Your potential customers are no different. You should imagine this audience as asking Google the specific question that your business is uniquely primed to answer. Once you do a little keyword research to figure out the golden phrases that are most commonly searched, your job is to sprinkle them throughout your content and website SEO settings to let Google know that it’s your page that holds the magic answers. The search engine loves to point its users in the right direction, so making your keywords are as detailed as possible helps them do just that.
04. Manage your meta tags
You can jump up and down and squeal ‘choose me, choose me!’ all you want, but how will you actually get Google to pay attention to your site? One major signal you can send that your website is worthy of its SERP love is filling out your website’s meta tags. Not to be confused with a philosophical term or a children’s recess game, these are the elements that make up a web page’s listing on Google. The blue lettering is the meta title or SEO title, and the short blurb in black beneath it is called the meta description. This text doesn’t actually show up on your website, but picking out clear and concise wording for these labels is critical for convincing web browsers that yours is the link to click. And, as always, don’t forget about weaving in those keywords here to catch Google’s eyes! If meta tags are still sounding like something from outer space, that’s okay.
05. Optimize for mobile
Mobile devices now account for about half of all global Internet traffic. And trust us, not one of those users wants to be squinting their way through cut-off displays on their phones, or images that never seem to fully load. Google knows this, and they want to keep their own users happy, so they will take into account just how mobile-friendly your site is when deciding whose pages will get listed first in the search results. That’s why you need to make sure your website is ready to go mobile. That was easy. Beyond making sure your formatting and loading speed are ready for its closeup with the small screen, you will also want to learn the best practices for presenting information on your mobile site. Think about the instances that will lead most people to make a purchase on their phone. It’s rarely a casual browsing kind of situation, and more of an ‘I need it now’ action. Google has actually coined a term for this experience: micro-moment. It is “an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need – to know, go, do, or buy.” Let this definition guide your choices about what to include, for example, on your homepage. Maybe you can do away with the menu options leading to your company story and blog in favor of centering your product gallery and shipping FAQs. Or if you have a mailing list subscription Lightbox with multiple entry fields, perhaps consider having mercy on your visitors’ thumbs and narrowing down the questions.
Let’s summarize here. How quickly and seamlessly your site facilitates a person arriving at the solution to their problem via mobile will do wonders for how users think of you (seen through time spent on your site, and how many browsers become buyers), and in turn, how Google thinks of you (seen in better page ranking).
06. Prove that you’re a local
Local business owners, this one’s for you. Within the broader SEO world, there’s an area known as local SEO, where Google helps direct location-specific searchers to solutions in their geographic area. Why is this important? Essentially, most people will still first turn to Google’s search box to find the business they’re looking for before taking a stroll down Main Street. Google My Business is the response to this reality. It is a directory of business listings that populates what appears on Google Maps, as well as what’s displayed in the ‘local pack’ (that map and three business options that appear at the top of searches with a specified location).So, let’s get this straight. How exactly does this local specification help your business get found more easily? In addition to keywords, it’s just one more way of hinting to Google that your business will be a quality result to suggest to its users. For example, let’s say you are the owners of a hair salon called ‘Highlights Toronto.’ If a potential client looking for a hairdresser searches for ‘hair salons in Toronto,’ your site will have a better chance showing up since your business answers both the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ of their search.
To start taking advantage of this service, claim your business and fill out your profile with all relevant information, including: name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, location, and more.
Of course, with new content being added to the web at a breakneck speed, and Google always updating their filing system in response, there’s always the potential for new trends to emerge.