You’ve just launched your small business website. It’s special to you. Look how pretty it is, just sitting there on the World Wide Web… along with a billion other websites.
Suddenly it doesn’t seem so special does it? But don’t worry. It’s still special and there are things you can do to help customers find it online.
Oh, you don’t know anything about websites? That’s ok. There are still things you can do to help your website be found by the right audience. This quick guide includes the starting steps and resources you can use to improve your visibility on search engines.
In regards to search engines, Google is the most popular kid in school. Yahoo! and Bing are the kids that raise their hand and the teacher always skips over them. So, where your website, and unfortunately every other website, wants to be is the top ranking on Google. If you do reach the top ranking, it’s a warm, cuddly, and amazing feeling.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long process, but I can promise you that if you follow these steps you can get pretty close…maybe… probably not.
I’m sorry to break it to you but it can be very hard to get that number one spot. Your competition will be fighting for the number one ranking as well. However, you will be on the right track if you follow these steps.
One of the first things you can do to rank your business website on Google is let them know where your business is physically located. If your business doesn’t have a physical address you can let them know your service area or region.
Google My Business is the place where you can accomplish this. You can sign in with an existing Gmail account or create a new one. Once you’re signed in, Google will walk you through creating a business profile step-by-step. This includes adding a link to your business’s website as well as adding your business’s address or service area, hours of operation, and a brief description of your company. You want to add as much information as you can to thoroughly fill out your business’s profile and give users searching online ample information about your company.
Once you’ve finished all of those lovely steps, Google will need to verify your business, usually by sending you a postcard to the physical address you stated in your profile. This shows Google that you’re serious about your business and a legitimate business.
Bing and Yahoo have a process very similar to this. Despite the fact the teacher never calls on them, you should fill out business profiles for them as well. Bing’s platform is called Bing Places for Business, and Yahoo’s is called Yahoo! Small Business. This is a very important step in leading customers to your website. This will not only help with rankings on all three search engines, but it will help you show up on the maps within the respective search engines.
This is important because if a user searches Google for a delicious ‘Hamburger’ and your burger joint is right down the road from the user, you should, hopefully, show up on the map.
Now that you have your business profile setup on Google, Yahoo, and Bing it’s time to really get down to the nitty gritty of getting your site closer to that precious number one spot on Google.
It’s all about the links, my friend. You need websites to link to your site. That’s it in a nutshell — a very complicated nutshell.
Although, you don’t want just anyone linking to your site. You want websites relevant to your business, industry, and location linking to your site.
Let’s use the delicious example of the burger joint. Say your town has a local paper with a website, and they review your burger joint and give it Five stars, because we all know your burger joint is the bomb. They then link to your website from theirs. This is an example of a juicy high quality link.
Google and the other “hand-raising” search engines now see that your burger joint website is being supported by another site. Search engines can also tell that the site supporting yours is local. This can also boost your rankings in the search engine maps.
So how do you get relevant websites to provide links back to your site? There are a couple of different ways to do so. If you would like to dive into link building for your website you should check out Moz’s The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building. It can get in depth so I’m not going to talk too much about it. I will tell you what you should do to start out and what you shouldn’t do.
The first thing you need to do is fill out top online citations. These usually are local online directories such as Yellow Pages or Yelp. This will be somewhat similar to how you created your business profiles for Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Back in the day, filling out as many of these online citations as possible used to be the norm. However, this has changed. Today you only want high-quality citations. Having ten high quality citations beats having fifty low-quality citations. Moz has an excellent list of top local citations according to category.
What you shouldn’t do is go looking high and low for strange places on the internet where you can cram a link to your website. Google does not like this. In fact, they can penalize you for it.
Now don’t worry, Google is very good at distinguishing natural, quality links from spammy links. It basically boils down to this: if anyone claims they can get you to that cuddly awesome number one ranking on Google in a couple of weeks, they are probably going to do something that Google will not like.
Learn to Be Social
So you’ve got your business profiles on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. You’ve got your local citations filled out. You’re probably thinking you’re pretty set, time to sit back and watch your website climb to the top of Google.
You’re going to hate me, but you’re not done yet. In fact, you’ve only scratched the surface of Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Yes it’s time to call what you’ve been doing SEO, even if what you’ve actually been doing only accounts for a minor bit of everything that is SEO. Now I could really get into SEO, such as onsite optimization, title tags, meta descriptions, etc. I’m not going to go there partly because this is not supposed to be an in-depth guide, but mostly because I’m lazy. If you would like to get into all that though I suggest you read Moz’s Beginner Guide to SEO. Yes I know, another Moz plug, but they really do know what they are talking about.
At this point you may be telling yourself that this SEO stuff isn’t for me and I’d rather just play on Facebook. Well I’ve got good news and bad news for you.
First the good, Facebook is a great way to generate traffic to your website without all that SEO mumbo jumbo. Now the bad, Facebook is not right for every business. No one is going to care how many liters of sewage your sewage treatment plant treats. I’m sure it’s a lot, but nobody cares. I’m sorry.
However, people would love to see the wonderful cakes your bakery bakes. That’s sewage no, cakes yes. The key thing to remember about social media is that it is all about engagement. Like I said, social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website without sweating over your site’s SEO. Oh and guess who has a great beginner’s guide to social media? That’s right, Moz.
Before I let you go on your adventure into Internet marketing, because that’s basically what all of this is, I’ll give you this advice and these resources. Internet marketing, particularly in the SEO field, is ever changing. What works one day may change the next. Here are three resources you can use to stay up-to-date on the Internet marketing world:
I know this is a lot to take in, but don’t be intimidated. These starting steps and resources will put you on the right track to increase your website’s visibility and help customers find your site.
But Who Has Time to Do All This and More?
Now comes the hard part — deciding whether or not you can truly handle this on your own. As I’ve mentioned, this only scratches the surface of getting a business website to rank well on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Can you really manage all of these search engine optimization tasks on your own while running your business at the same time?
It’s in your best interest to find an SEO company who knows exactly what it takes to rank a website, drive qualified leads to your business using search marketing, and maintain your business website ranking position. We’re here to do just that.