Recently I noticed that my friend’s small business in Montgomery was not showing up on Google search for terms that I would have thought they’d show up for. I let her know and she asked what she could do to rank higher in google searches (or show up at all in some cases). I did a little bit of digging and gave her three “fixes” that should help solve the problem.
Claim Your Google Business Listing
The very first thing I noticed was that this friend hadn’t yet claimed her business profile on google and therefore wasn’t showing up for “near me” searches while competitors in Birmingham were showing up. Her business is much more “near me” than a business in Birmingham.
“Near me” searches always return a set of search results listed under “Businesses” with a map to the right so you can see their locations. The way that Google populates this section of the search is a) with ads but b) using information that you’ve provided from your Google Business Profile. For example, when I searched “marketing agencies near me” it turned up the following results:
As you can see, Dogwood showed up for the first two spots because one is a paid ad placement and the other is based on our location. The other agencies listed are also within close proximity. Google knew what businesses to show me based on my location (downtown Montgomery), the location listed on these agency Business Profiles, and the business description (i.e. marketing agency).
This business owner doesn’t have a physical location for her business, but she can still claim her business using a P.O. Box. Of course, P.O. boxes do come with a small cost, but the cost is worth it for people to discover your business organically via Google searches! This is the cheapest and easiest way for her to begin showing up on Google searches.
Create an SEO Strategy
The second piece of advice that I gave this business owner was to begin creating an SEO strategy for their blog writing as well as their website content. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the way in which you tell Google what your website is about and let them know that you’re a good source of information. You can learn more about the intricacies of SEO in this blog from Beth.
Research and Write for Your Keywords
Long story short, Google looks at your website and scans it for “keywords.” Those keywords let Google know what your website is about and what kind of information you offer. For that reason, if you want to rank for a certain keyword that word needs to be on your website and preferably optimized for. In addition, you’ll want to regularly update your content so that Google knows you’re still open for business and are offering updated services or information.
SEO strategies can be as in depth or as simple as you want to make them. At the most basic level you should at least think through the words that someone might search to find your business and then write content around those words or similar words. For example, if one of our keywords was social media marketing then we’d want to have information on our website about social media marketing and then write blog content surrounding that word.
Optimizing Your Blog Content
Another think to keep in mind when writing your blogs is to not only declare a keyword but write your blogs with SEO in mind. What this means is that there are certain rules or criteria that Google looks for in your content that makes it score better on the proverbial SEO scale. Some of these criteria include, using short paragraphs, using your keyword in the first paragraph and several more times throughout the article, including an internal and an external link etc.
It takes a little while to get use ot thse rules, but once you’ve gotten use to them you’ll begin writing with them in mind and your blogs will score better without you doing much tweaking. When I first started writing blogs for Dogwood my SEO scores would be in the 50s before I made tweaks, now they’re consistently in the 70s or 80s right off the bat with very little tweaking that needs to be done. It’s a simple fix that can help you show up better on Google search results.
Now, this isn’t going to get you in the very first spot on Google on day one. SEO is a long term strategy and takes consistency. You can’t do on page SEO or blog optimization for one post or one page and expect to see huge changes. However, if you keep up with the program over time Google will recognize you as a legitimate source of information and will begin showing your listings higher and higher on the search page. This is called gaining keyword authority.
Buy Google Search Ads
The last tip I gave her was to buy Google ads. This was the last tip I gave because of course, it costs money. While I am a huge proponent of budgeting some percentage of your business income on advertising I also understand that for small businesses it’s not always feasible. However, if the issue you’re having is that you’re not showing up on Google searches that you think you should be, a surefire way to fix that is to buy your spot.
Google Search Ads are paid ads that you see at the top of the page when you google something. They are denoted by a tag at the beginning of the listing that says “Ad.” There are typically 2-4 paid spots for any given search and if you’re putting money down to win one of those spots then at least some of the time you will show up for that keyword.
There is no minimum or Google Ad budget. You can spend as much or as little as you’d like, but remember other people are also bidding on those same keywords. That being said, putting a little bit of effort towards this kind of advertising is almost always better than doing nothing at all.
There is always the possibility that someone else will outbid you for the ad spot you want so you likely won’t show up every single time someone googles a keyword you’re wanting to rank for. However, if the SEO game is too long of a process for you and you need more immediate results, Google Ads are always a great option.
None of these things are industry secrets, but they’re things that you’d have to know how to do and have the time to accomplish. That’s where Dogwood comes in! If you know that you need to have a better presence online for your business but don’t know where to start or don’t have the time, give us a call! We’d love to talk to you and come up with a solution that fits your needs.