A great website with consistent traffic can help your small local business punch above its weight. The best websites are the ones that are easy to find and pleasant to use.
The whole purpose of building a website for your business is to get new leads.
You need potential customers to find your site and eventually use it to contact you. It can be nearly impossible to operate a profitable business without your website working as a constant lead generation tool.
Even if you have a brick-and-mortar location or attend every market and pop-up in your region, your digital presence is how you’re going to bring people there.
When people are looking for goods or services, they will often search for it online. If your business doesn’t appear on the first page of their search it’s very likely they’ll never find it.
In order to get people on your website, you need search engine optimization (SEO). This is a variety of best practices you can use to make your website Google-friendly and in turn, customer friendly.
Just like your potential clients, Google is looking for websites that are relevant, trustworthy, easy to use and filled with quality content.
First steps to optimizing your website for Google
There are hundreds of ways to help your website appear on Google’s first page but some strategies are more important than others. It can be tempting to only focus on things such as paid Google Ads but you truly need organic traffic. Ads can be expensive and some users are less inclined to trust them. By focusing on using SEO best practices you can drive new users for years to come.
Optimization isn’t a step-by-step process but it helps to set your priorities early on.
The first steps come long before your website ever goes live.
At some point, you will have to establish a business name and other aspects of your brand. It’s important that you come up with a name that you’ll keep for the long haul. If you change your name later on it can confuse customers and make it harder for new people to find you in a Google search.
Your initial branding should also include the development of a logo and choosing of key brand aspects like related terms or preferred colors.
The next step is getting your website designed.
There are many Content Management Systems to use for your website but WordPress sites are the best for businesses. If it’s good enough for The White House, Time Magazine and Sony Music, it will probably serve your business well.
With proper maintenance, your WordPress site can be search-friendly, speedy, secure and stylish.
After building your website, one of the most beneficial ways to get your website on track is to claim your Google listing. Part of improving your Google ranking is using their tools.
By claiming your Google Business Profile listing you can help users verify where you are located, what your hours are, how to contact you and what the link to your website is. This is extremely helpful for businesses hoping to reach customers near their location.
Your website and Google Business Profile need to be filled with excellent content that makes people interested in your services. A major part of your business’s SEO value will be based on the readability, length and quality of your website’s content.
Writing for your readers
Google is well aware that no one wants to read bad writing. If the content on your website isn’t in-depth and easy to read then it will be much more difficult for your site to rank on the first page.
Your homepage alone should have around 1,000 to 1,500 words. Each page where you detail the services your company provides should have around 1,000 words as well.
The more words on your page, the easier it is to naturally write about all of your target search topics.
For example, Emerge offers numerous services including website design, SEO plans, Marketing-On-Demand and logo design. In order for people to find these services in search, there must be substantial content describing them.
When it comes to people seeking a web designer, they could be looking for “web designer” or “build a new website” or “develop website” or any number of topics. You can help them land on your page by using a wider range of keywords.
Try to determine what questions your clients are searching for and see how you can include those questions and answers on your website. If you know a piece of information is crucial or that it’s a popular keyword, you should try and include it in your headings for a higher SEO value.
Just be careful, it’s better to write naturally and avoid stuffing in keywords too often or in strange ways.
Starting with the meta description – which shows up as a small preview to your website in your Google search – all of your writing should be focused on getting people to make another click.
The meta description should invite people to your website and your site should drive people to the checkout or contact page.
The way you get people from point A to point B is by writing content that converts. Show the reader why they need your services and encourage them to act by clicking your page.
Google will notice more people clicking your website and staying longer, which can help your ranking.
SEO is partially a popularity contest, the more people use your website, the higher your website will rank. If searchers find your content worth viewing then Google will too.
This is why your business should focus on improving marketing as a whole. A well-written website, consistent social media presence and links from other reputable websites can really help your business do better on Google.
At the end of the day you’re building trust with Google and with real people.
Monitor your website rankings
In order to do something right, you have to know what you’re doing wrong. If your content isn’t driving website traffic and increasing engagement, you will need to know about it.
Google makes it easy to track how your pages are doing but you can also use more advanced SEO tools to see exactly how you’re ranking. The esssentials for traffic monitoring are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. But if you want to check your page rankings you should consider ranking specific tools, these will tell you if you’re holding spot 10 or 110.
When you see that one of your pages is doing exceptionally well online you can break down exactly what you did and apply those best practices to new content. If your pages aren’t doing as well you should definitely consider making some edits. You can make them longer, add new keywords, edit poor writing, remove mistakes and link to more pages. Throughout all of your edits, just make sure you’re focusing on user experience and writing for real people.
Building trust online
There are a lot of websites that you definitely want to avoid. Internet users are constantly trying to avoid spam, viruses and false information. Google is also trying to keep people off of those pages.
If Google thinks your website is dangerous, it could drop in rankings.
First-page worthy websites should have sufficient security. Security efforts like establishing an SSL, you’ll recognize this as the little lock that pops up in your browser bar. This is an important first step to protecting customer data.
Especially because if your website gets hacked and goes down for an extended period of time, that can hurt your rankings.
In addition to security, there are other ways to make sure Google and your potential customers know that you’re trustworthy.
If you make your website available to reputable sites such as your business partners, well-known directories or blogs include a link to your website it can help improve your Google ranking. This practice is called backlinking.
It essentially shows Google that these other businesses found your website worth linking to, which in turn increases your popularity.
You can even reach out to news outlets who might be interested in doing a story about your company. They’ll likely link to your business’s website in their article online, which can build credibility, increase trust and grow your audience.
Becoming a well-established source in your community can really help you build backlinks. If local reporters catch wind of your expertise you can end up on multiple outlets or in various stories.
Many businesses, especially lawyers and contractors, focus on getting their business listed on directories. These websites offer those helpful Top 10 lists that everyone seems to read. For example, a web design agency could be added to a list of Richmond’s web designers or the top web designers in Richmond.
There are multiple ways to get added to a directory, some common ones include:
- Paying for a directory spot
- Applying for an accreditation
- Reaching out to the company
- Inputting your business
- Gaining positive reviews and notoriety
- Building relationships with related businesses
Another way to build trust online is to focus on getting reviews for your work. A 5-star review on your Google Business Profile can drastically improve a small business’s appeal to new customers.
You don’t have the same recognition as national chains so it’s important that the people in your community show support for you and vouch for your quality of work. Companies with positive reviews rank better online and have a better chance of capturing new customers.
Lastly, active social media accounts can show your customers that your business is legitimate and operated by real people. You can also use social media as a way to drive site traffic by sharing links on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Google even mimics social media by giving you the chance to make posts on your Google Business Profile. These will be visible along with your location information, reviews, website link and hours. You can post regularly on Google Business Profile using effective keywords to help your rankings.
Growing your audience
When it comes to getting your website to rank on Google’s first page, you don’t have to stop at the homepage. You can work on getting all kinds of pages to hit the top of people’s searches.
You should attempt to write pages detailing each unique service your business offers and create pages about how you can serve different industries. Each service page should answer your reader’s what, how and why questions.
For example, an IT company would have pages about all of the support services they provide and separate pages for how that support works in industries such as health care or finance.
The other thing you can do is rewrite existing content for a new page that focuses on another location. This is great for businesses looking to expand past the city they are physically located in. Many companies have one brick-and-mortar office or store but send crews to work in neighboring cities or provide remote services.
A great way to get on the first page of national searches and not just local ones is to write blog posts. Blogs give you the chance to answer common industry questions, explore topics related to your services or write about your business in fun formats like a question and answer.
The more quality content you have, the more chances you have to reach the first page of Google.
How Emerge can help your website reach Google’s first page
SEO is like exercise. The more time you spend updating and optimizing your website, the better results you’ll see.
Your website is more likely to rank on the first page if you are keeping it updated. These changes can be anything from publishing new pages, editing old ones, updating plugins or optimizing photos.
Consistent website optimization is hard work and can take time away from your other responsibilities. That’s where Emerge comes in.
With an SEO plan or Marketing-On-Demand package you don’t have to worry about making updates each month. Instead, an experienced marketing professional can help amp up your marketing and keep your website fresh.