How Do I Make Sure My Business Is Found in the Search Engines?
As entrepreneurs and business owners, you have at least 10 ways to get your business found online. Your customers are searching for your business in many places, but if you haven’t done a good job of optimizing your presence, your competitors are taking that business away from you. One of the most-asked questions I get is “How do I SEO my website?” or what they’re really asking is, “How do I make sure my business is being found when people search for me?”
Search engine optimization, or “SEO” has a bad rap. I see it all the time. People eye’s glaze over. It sounds hard (it’s an acronym after all). It’s poorly understood, and you have loads of misinformation available to you. It’s overwhelming and filled with geek vernacular.
I actually really hate the term “SEO” and hesitate to mention that I teach it, because of everything I just said. Furthermore, SEO is just a tool. It’s not a result or an end-game, it’s a process that anyone can follow and get results.
The reality is that:
- It’s really not hard at all (the geeks just make it seem hard)
- It’s not for geeks and techno-dweebs
- Anyone can do it (and I mean anyone)
3 Steps to Getting Found By Search Engines
You just have to know where to start. It really boils down to three steps, and the first two, you only have to do once.
Get Found Locally
The Small Business Administration says there are 28 million small businesses in the USA. According to the US Census Bureau, 99.7% of all businesses in the USA have fewer than 500 employees. Chances are very high that you either own or work for one of these businesses, which account for 60% of all new jobs since 1970.
This means that your business likely has a local component to it, and your customers come from a local area. Whether you’re a mechanic in a small town, an accountant in a suburb or in the New York City metro area, your customers probably come from a small, finite number of miles away to do business with you.
Your first step to getting found online is to make sure you’ve established your local online presence.
Register your business with:
- Google My Business
- Bing Business Listings
- Other local business listings (Use moz.com/local to find them)
Start generating reviews on Google My Business and Yelp. These both show up high in the search results, and people do read them! Your online reviews can actually make the difference between a closed deal or someone walking away to do business with your competitor.
Optimize Your Web Content
I really hate to use the geek term “SEO”, but you have to set up your website for success. If you don’t want to do this, you can have your web support person handle it for you, and she will know exactly what you’re talking about.
First, make sure you have a strong call-to-action (CTA) on EVERY page of your website and blog. A CTA (sorry, geeky acronym) is what YOU want your potential customers to do to get in touch with you:
- Sign up for your newsletter
- Fill out a quote request
- Call you
- Purchase something
Your CTA should be at the top of every single page of your website because you never know where your customers will come in. They may come in from social media, the search engines, a link, an ad, or your email newsletter. You have to make sure they can easily get in touch with you when they’re ready to do business with you.
Next, divide your website into three chunks:
- High-priority pages – those that your customers will find the most value in (your services, products, problems you solve, etc.)
- Medium-priority pages – those that have information about your company, your staff, your office, etc. Your blog might be here or in high-priority, depending on your goals
Set up your target search phrases for each page by using my 16 places to put your keyword phrase list on your high-priority pages. This will help you get found for your top search terms, and you can set it and forget it (or tell your web guy or gal to do it).
Once you’ve completed that, take on the medium-priority chunk and work on them. Ignore the low-priority pages unless you have a serious case of insomnia.
Generate Useful Content On a Regular Basis
This is the hard part. You have to generate useful information (not sales hype!) on a regular basis. The easiest way to do this is to use a business blog. Answer the questions that your customers are asking. Give them the answers to solve their problems, no matter what they are.
It can kind of feel like you’re giving away all your good stuff, but people use the search engines to solve their problems. When you or I do a search on Google, we’re looking for an answer to fix whatever issue we have. We want one of the following:
- A how-to document to fix it ourselves
- A company that has a product or service that will fix it
- A company that will fix it for us
In any of these scenarios, you’ll be building trust with the searcher. You want them to get to know, like and trust you. Some will get in touch with you to because they need your products or services. This is why you need to have a strong call-to-action on EVERY web page and blog page.
This content you’re creating can also be reused in several ways:
- Your social media posts
- Your email newsletter
- Your press releases
- An e-book
But as I said, this is the hardest part to keep creating on a regular basis. My newsletter is automatically programmed to go out every week at noon. If I don’t have a blog post and content for the newsletter, I’m in trouble. So it’s a big fire under my butt to keep creating content!
Use whatever tools light a fire under your butt to keep going. I recently passed over 100 blog posts without even realizing I was approaching the milestone. Whew. That’s a lot of content. But it really helps with the search engines. No doubt about it.
So get to work. If you don’t like to write, hire a good copy writer who can generate the content for you.
(This original article was written by Thomas Petty, appeared here and was re-published with permission.)