So you want to show up on Google. But how do you make that happen?
This is probably the most common question we hear at Be Locally SEO, especially from smaller, locally owned businesses and newer companies trying to break into their market.
To answer this question, let’s start by taking a look at how your biggest competitors found their way to the top of the Google search results.
The websites that show up at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) have a few factors in common.
Longevity — The site has been around forever.
Content — The site has lots of keyword-optimized content.
Fresh — The site is constantly adding fresh content.
Backlinks — The site has tons of backlinks.
Typically, the sites that grab the best organic search positions started targeting the top keywords in their industry early on — and they’ve never relented. Even if you started now and mimicked their strategy, you’d have a really hard time getting caught up with the pack leaders.
Without a doubt, big companies — especially those that have had a large digital marketing budget and a strong web presence for years or even decades — have a number of advantages over smaller businesses and those that haven’t been constantly optimizing their website since the 1990s.
What you may not realize is that their advantages have limits.
Yes, the big companies dominate Google for the most popular keywords, and if you try to compete head-to-head for only these keywords and locations, you’ll be frustrated at the results. But what if you set your sights on some slightly different keywords that have much less competition?
Let’s say you own a small real estate brokerage in West Jordan, Utah. If you search on “real estate West Jordan Utah,” you’ll see all the usual suspects — Century 21, RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker — and the online listing sites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com.
If you want to take on this all-star lineup, you’ll have to get scrappy. You’ll also need to fire up your crystal ball, so you can get inside the heads of your prospects. You have to tweak your keyword strategies and leverage some other digital marketing tools to give your site a boost as well. And, finally, you’ll have to get busy and creative and keep pushing, week after week.
Ultimately, however, you can break into the big time and show up on Google.
The way you use these tips will depend on your business model, your geographic location, the specific sites you’re competing against and a host of other variables. But once you figure it out, you might be surprised to see how successful you can be.
Don’t give up on those “holy grail” keywords, but don’t focus exclusively on them either.
Using our real estate example above, don’t abandon “real estate West Jordan,” but find some other key phrases that will help boost you up the SERPs. For example, maybe you’ll have less competition for “horse property West Jordan” or “homes with pools in West Jordan.”
This can help you show up in Google, because even though fewer of your prospects may be using these search terms, the chances are good that you won’t have a lot of competition for these terms, especially if you can focus on a targeted geographic location.
As more and more internet users turn to voice-activated Google searches, long-tail keywords are becoming increasingly valuable. Imagine one of your prospects talking to Siri or Alexa. What will they ask their digital assistant if they’re trying to find you?
“Hey Siri, show me real estate companies in West Jordan that represent new home buyers.”
Or, “Alexa, show me a list of horse properties for sale in West Jordan.”
Once you identify a few of these long-tail keywords that match your business model, you can start working them into your SEO and digital marketing efforts.
In the No. 3 position is the keystone to showing up on Google: content.
Those “big boys” that dominate the SERPs? They’re producing and posting a constant stream of fresh content to their sites week after week, in the form of blog posts, articles, FAQs, areas-served pages, etc. Both long- and short-form content will help, as long as it’s well-written, engaging, original and optimized to naturally incorporate your keywords.
So how much content do you need? You can safely assume that the top sites are posting at least four to six new pieces of content a week if they’re in a crowded industry like real estate. If you’re in a slightly less crowded industry or geographic area, you might get away with adding one or two new pieces of content each week.
To show up in Google searches, you have to prove that you have the best answer to your prospects’ questions and needs.
Google strives above all else to give searchers exactly what they’re looking for. Their algorithms haven’t perfected this quite yet — as you know yourself from searching — but it’s getting better by the day.
Go back inside the mind of your prospects, identify their biggest problems and figure out how you can solve them.
Google’s algorithms favor fresh content that gives searchers what they’re looking for, but you can boost your chances of showing up on Google if you leverage some of the other digital marketing tools available to you.
Social media offers several powerful tools for creating synergy across your digital marketing platform. Directories, reviews and roundups, if you can get into them, are also extremely helpful for boosting your Google visibility. Pay-per-click campaigns — like Google AdWords — can really help boost your visibility and position in the SERPs.
The right strategy for you depends on what you do and where you do it, but you should leverage as many of these tools as you can on an ongoing basis.
Google favors websites that keep up with technology, so if your site is even two or three years old, you need to make some updates.
Some of the most effective artifacts you can add are microcontent, rich cards and snippets. You may also need to tweak your on-page optimization and be sure your site is loading quickly enough across every platform (desktop, mobile, etc.). Take a look at your site’s user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), to make sure your site visitors will find what they need as soon as they arrive.
Finally, take a look at your calls to action (CTAs) and the ways you’re trying to drive prospect behaviors. The more you can get your site visitors to do what you want them to do (fill out a contact form, click to call, place an order), the better your visibility will be.
Google is constantly updating its algorithms to reflect users’ behavior.
For example, as more users began searching from mobile platforms, Google started to demand that websites have a functional and responsive mobile interface. As local and hyper-local searches grew, Google began offering tools that let local businesses leverage this technology. Today, as voice search is becoming the norm, the algorithms are starting to favor SEO strategies that adapted accordingly.
Nobody knows how the Google algorithms might change over the coming months, but as long as you stay up to date and adapt your SEO accordingly, you’ll stay on Google’s good side.
You can invest dozens (or hundreds) of hours researching the best practices, tips and tricks of SEO and implement them in your marketing. You could risk getting on Google’s bad side by experimenting on your own, or by having an amateur marketer try to optimize your site.
Or you could use the services of an internet marketing and SEO expert who understands exactly how to get your site to show up on Google.
Be Locally SEO works with small- and medium-sized businesses in Utah and across the United States, helping to get them to show up on Google. Our proprietary approach includes website design and optimization, pay-per-click AdWords campaign design and management, and content creation and marketing.
By leveraging strategies including local and hyper-local SEO and optimizing for long-tail keywords, we propel our clients up to the top of search engine results. Contact Be Locally SEO today to learn more about how we can help you show up on Google.