Every business wants to get seen online. But only a few make it to the first page. This coveted placement is not entirely just based on popularity—it’s also based on strategy. So what are some of the things that top businesses do that gets them to the first page?
The First Step to Getting Good Search Results
Your business has to be listed on Google in order to rank well on Google.
Google is the top search engine in the world as it holds over 77 percent of the world’s search engine market share. Google commands this share because of its intuitive search algorithms and its innovative tools, such as Google Maps, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and AMP, that have become nearly indispensable to businesses and webmasters.
Further, Google has been proven to serve the needs of local businesses much better than Bing and Yahoo, which are the runners-up in the search engine world. Google delivers results based on location while Bing and Yahoo tend to give more visibility to large websites (and large businesses).
The way for a business to get listed on Google is through Google My Business. First, you enter your business address to see if a listing already exists. If it does, you’ll need to claim it. If not, you can go ahead and create a new one. Fill it out as much as possible—even adding several photos—because it’s best to have a robust profile. Once the listing is created and verified, it will put your business on Google Maps and Google Search.
For a detailed explanation of how to get listed in Google, watch this video:
Business Listing Management
Google gets you on the map, but there’s a whole web of other business listing directories that also affect your search rankings! You’ve just begun.
You’ve probably never heard of most of these directories—such as Cylex, Kudzu, Soleo, or Tupalo—but the reason you should care about them is that Google’s robots are looking at them. Google rewards your site with a higher ranking if your business appears consistently across all these directories. Conversely, if your information is incorrect, duplicated, or missing, it could hurt your rankings.
It’s especially important that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) information is formatted exactly the same across all the directories. This includes your own website—it should show the same information in the same format as the directories. So don’t go and put a different phone number on your website than the one you put out there on other directories.
Think you can easily handle these directories on your own? Guess again.
There are hundreds of these directories. If you tried to claim and list your business on them manually, your job would never be done. By the time you manage to finish the first round, the aggregators would collect information from who-knows-where and would push it out to these directories, duplicating listings or replacing the information you just updated.
It’s virtually impossible to manually update your business information across the local search ecosystem. Because of that, there are several nifty tools that help you get your information published accurately:
- Yext: Yext has a direct agreement with 70+ business directories, in which it replaces or creates listings on behalf of your business. The updates show up within several days, and sometimes, within several hours.
- NAP Hunter: This is a free Chrome extension that finds where your website is cited (called citations) and compiles it into a downloadable file. You can then go through those listings and update any listings that aren’t serviced by other tools.
Our office has chosen to become partners with Yext since the information is updated more immediately. You’ll get better Google rankings, consistent listings, and your information published on top directories.
For an in-depth overview, watch this video:
SEO Page Title Best Practices
In SEO, details matter. This means that boring details, like the organization of your site’s pages, URL names, and page titles, need attention.
One of the best formulas for ranking a local business in a particular area for a particular service is to use your key phrase plus your location plus your brand name—whatever fits within Google’s 70-character limit. For example, if your key phrase is “carpet cleaning services”, your target service area is San Francisco, and your brand name is ABC Company, your page title would look something like this:
Carpet Cleaning Services in San Francisco CA | ABC Company
Normally, web browsers will show your page title on results. However, if a browser searches for a keyphrase that’s more relevant to one of your subheadings (or H2 headings), then your H2 heading will become the page title on the search result.
Your meta description is the little blurb that is meant to entice web browsers to click on your search result. You don’t want to make it too short or too long—the sweet spot is over 50 characters, but less than 150 characters. Your meta description should also include your phone number so that people can easily call you, directly from the search results.
There’s a quick way to see if there are any issues with your site’s title tags and meta descriptions. All you need to do is go to the “HTML Improvements” tab in your Google Search Console.
The Strategies Work
These few basic steps will get you closer to that prominent spot on Google’s first page. For more such information you can visit Optimize Worldwide’s Whiteboard Wednesday blog. I’ve seen these strategies work over and over for our clients, gaining them more calls from potential clients and, ultimately, more sales. Comment below and let us know if you have tried any of these strategies and seen results.