The Yellow Pages are dead. Today, if someone is looking for a business, they're going to look in one of two places: friends and family, and Google. If you can turn customers into brand evangelists for your business, that friends and family thing will eventually work itself out. It's Google that's the big challenge.
Unfortunately, most businesses aren't really sure where to start when it comes to getting to the top of Google. They either think that simply putting up a website will put them high enough in the results to get noticed, or they think that only "special" businesses get to the top results of Google.
The fact is that your business can reach toward the top of Google rankings. Depending on what it is you do and how much competition there is, it might be easier than you think.
Here are five techniques you can use to help get your business' website to the top of Google rankings:
1. Choose the right keywords.
If you're going to achieve the goal of getting to the top of Google, that goal needs to be within your reach in the first place. Accordingly, you need to pick the right keywords.
This is a highly individualized process. If you're a business that has a brick and mortar component, you'll probably want to focus on geographic keywords (more on this below). On the other hand, if you're an online-only business, it might be a bit tougher.
You're going to want to find keywords that truly fit your business but that aren't so competitive as to make ranking next to impossible. Don't skimp on your keyword research; it's probably the single-most important part of ranking in the search engines.
2. Devise a local search strategy.
As we mentioned above, a location-focused strategy can be much easier a goal to achieve than getting into global search engine rankings. This is where locally-based businesses may have a huge advantage over other businesses.
There are a number of tactics you can use to get your business listed when someone does a local search, including:
- Use geographic keywords in page titles, links, and your content strategy.
- Claim your Google Places page. This will put your listing first whenever someone actually searches for your business name or your business type in your local area.
- Get listed in local search directories. This could be as simple as your local newspaper's business listings, the Chamber of Commerce website, or even a visitor's bureau page.
Today, more than half of people looking for a local product or service turn to Google. Getting listed in these results will boost your business fast.
3. Focus on quality content.
Google has long stated that its objective in providing search engine results is to give searchers the most useful and relevant information possible. As time goes on, Google gets better and better at meeting this objective.
Creating quality content means many different things to many different people, but common characteristics you should focus on include:
- Adding value. Make sure the content you post is truly useful to your visitors. This will also help generate inbound links, which in turn will boost your rankings in Google.
- Increasing readability. Make sure you're using correct grammar and spelling. Learn how to produce content for the web, which means short paragraphs, short sentences, and lots of white space on the page.
- Avoid advertisements above the fold. One of Google's newest initiatives has to do with lowering the rankings of sites that use advertisements above the fold. Unless you're generating significant revenue from third-party advertising, this shouldn't be an issue.
Keep up to speed with Google's trends, too, so you know what they understand to be quality content.
4. Generate backlinks.
This is a tricky one. Getting people to link to your site isn't easy, but it's essential to placing high in the rankings. In addition to creating quality content, networking is a big part of this process.
Avoid backlink scams and paid backlinks, too. Google has learned how to readily identify these, and will drop the rankings of sites they believe are engaged in this so-called "black hat" SEO.
5. Utilize social media.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are wonderful sources of backlinks, and Google is giving increasing credence to these sources in terms of search engine rankings. Develop a social media marketing strategy, and integrate it into your overall website promotional efforts.
Getting to the top of Google isn't easy, but it's not impossible, either. Follow these five techniques carefully and you'll see your search engine rankings rise significantly.
About the Author: Sara Schoonover is Vice President of of TicketKick, a California company that helps drivers to reduce fines for speeding and/or get speeding tickets and other traffic tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010 after providing similar services since 2006, is the leading company in this space and growing rapidly.