Today, a small business's approach to ranking well in Google might resemble a roller coaster ride. As Google continually updates its algorithms (e.g., Penguin and Panda), you might be left wondering how to keep up with the twists and turns. However, by following a few guidelines, you can boost your business’s rank in Google search results and make it easier for new and existing customers to find you online and connect to make a purchase.
Here are six tips to help you improve your visibility on Google:
1. Develop Informative, Fresh Website Copy
At the end of the day, Google wants to be the best search engine. To that end, it wants to present users with websites that are the most relevant for their particular search terms or phrases. Making sure your website has content that addresses specific questions posed in consumers’ searches, and the coordinating information on an About page or FAQ page, is very important.
Also, it's imperative to have a devoted page on your website with your business’s name, address and phone number, and make sure that detail is the same on all social profiles. Consistent contact details score well with all search engines.
2. Develop Shareable Online Content
Not only do your customers love blog posts, infographics, ebooks and videos, Google does too. While there is a time commitment involved, the ROI is well worth it given the value that Google is placing today on original content. After making the content available, use Google-owned properties such as Google+, YouTube and Blogger to promote the copy and get it indexed quickly by Google.
Additionally, share your blog posts, articles and other work on social media. If customers find it valuable, they will comment, share and like what you do. These signals are becoming very important to Google.
3. Use Google Authorship to Your Advantage
If you haven’t heard of Google Authorship, you aren’t alone; however, it might be the tool you need to show customers you are the expert in a particular field. With Google Authorship, you can link your personal Google+ profile to published works like blog posts and byline articles. Your photo will then appear next to content when it's retrieved in search results, adding an extra layer of credibility for your business. Authorship has a huge trust factor for Google boosting your rankings. Also through Google+, use Google Publisher to protect your website copy, so others in the space cannot copy your website text and index it for their benefit.
4. Create a Google+ Presence
Establishing a Google+ page specifically for your business will help you rank higher in search results, create authority for your business in Google’s eyes and give your customers another avenue for reaching you and learning more about your offerings. To get started, you must first establish a Google+ personal page in order to create a business page. For the best results, fill in as much detail as possible on your business page and use keywords related to your products and services. This will help new customers find you when they search for those particular words.
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Once you are set up, post to your business page regularly—including photos, videos and offers—so followers are more likely to engage and share your updates. Your personal page will be used separately for you to update friends and family, while your business page posts will hone in more on your offerings.
5. Let YouTube Bring Your Business to Life
With 1 billion unique visitors monthly, YouTube is the second largest search engine. And, as consumers gravitate to video content more, you should review how videos show the value of your products and services. If you are a smoothie business, show the high-quality ingredients that go into a shake. Roofing contractors might show the uniqueness or quality of a particular shingle. Better yet, let a happy customer provide a video testimonial. Businesses from all walks of life can use YouTube to show their best work, and a variety of videos can further establish your business for prospects.
6. Add Keywords and Tags to YouTube Videos
To boost visibility in your local area, geo-tag YouTube content (in other words, add a geographic descriptor). As you upload videos, add your geographic location into designated fields to highlight your business location. Also, make sure you put your Web address first in the title of the video, followed by a keyword-rich title related to your business. You want people to have a hyperlink to your website directly at the top of the video. When videos are uploaded, share them socially or through a customer newsletter and add them to your website. Since Google owns YouTube, it puts a big value on these links, which helps your search rankings.
As Google continues to offer new services, local small businesses need to stay ahead of the curve so they can be found in Google search results. Collectively implementing these six steps properly and consistently will help you increase overall visibility in Google search results, drive website traffic and gain more customer leads.
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OPEN Cardmember Chris Marentis is the founder and CEO of Surefire Social, a provider of local digital marketing technology and services based in Herndon, VA.
Photos from top: iStockphoto, Thinkstock