Search Engine results are being used more every day, and where your business falls in a search is the difference between getting a phone call, and never even being heard of. Rarely do consumers go beyond the first page of search results, trusting that whatever comes up at the top is probably the best. Did you know that there is a process by which you can raise your status in Google Search Results? This process is called Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) and it is pretty clear when you look at two sites, which is on page one, and which is buried on page 47 because of a lack of optimization.
“But Matthew,” you say to me with an accusing glint in your eye. “How do I rank higher in search engines, isn’t that really expensive? I don’t want to have to pay Google every month!” Fear not, we’re going to go over my three favorite FREE ways to raise your rank in Search Engines and avoid having to pay someone like me to do this for you.
First let us do some Myth Busting, and we won’t even need a penny and a railroad track to do it. Google does not give priority to Pay-Per-Click Advertisers in their search results. What does this mean? Let’s look at your typical search results from Google, I typed in “San Antonio Computer Repair” and hit search. Google came up with 964,000 results and is displaying the first 10. At the top in our picture bellow, with a background of yellow, we have the advertisers. These are companies who pay Google an amount, usually between a quarter and a dollar, for every one time someone clicks on their link.
Paying Google this advertising fee is one way to guarantee hits to your site, because you are only charged when someone clicks on your link. “But Matthew, didn’t you say I didn’t have to pay Google?” Correct, advertising is an optional way to enhance your web site’s traffic, but paying Google to advertise does not impact where you fall into the Local Business results, or results from the Web.
Matthew’s SEO Tip #1 – Google Local Business Center
Head to the link above and create an account, this is absolutely free and will allow your business to show up in the Local Business results. The local results are often the first thing someone looks at, because as you see in the photo above, there is a giant map of your area, or the searched area right there next to the listings. Often, even being on page one in web results, is not as valuable as being on page one in the Local Business results. So follow the instructions and create an entry for your business with your name, business address, and as much information about yourself as you’d like to provide. This is an absolutely free way to enhance your visibility on the web.
NOTE – My favorite part of the Google Local Business Center is that it feeds Google Maps locations for businesses. I was invited to a restaurant recently and could not find the place. I turned on Google Maps in my iPhone, and there was no Local Business entry for that restaurant. Imagine how much frustration you can prevent for your customers by being easily found in GPS results, just by posting into the Google Local Business Center for free.
Matthew’s SEO Tip #2 – The Value of a Keyword
When you create a web site, it is important to keep track of your traffic. Popular tools like Google Analytics and Clicky are great FREE ways of tracking who comes to your web site, but more importantly, what terms did visitors use in a search engine to find your business? These terms are called “keywords” or “search terms” and they are what we try to cover our web site with so that when Google knocks on our door to see what is new on our site, they see what we’re all about.
When you name a page on your web site it is important to be mindful of these keywords. Staying with our “San Antonio Computer Repair” example above, let’s assume our web site is www.AlamoRanchPCRepair.com. If we create a page on our web site, would we want to call it “page001.html” OR would we want to call it “computer_repair.html”? Something as simple as naming your files differently can impact how likely you are to turn up in a search.
Alternatively, when you ask a friend to link to your web site, ask them to link to what you do, not what your name is. The value of a link to “Alamo Ranch PC Repair” is not as valuable in optimization terms as a link for “San Antonio Computer Repair.” This tells Google that your link must be about those words, thus giving you credit for your favorite search term.
Matthew’s SEO Tip #3 – Content Content Content!
When you think about the Web Site that you visit daily, what makes it stand out from other sites you maybe only visit once a month. Content! All the keywords in the world won’t make a boring web site interesting! Ask yourself what you can do to keep a user coming back, or how you can engage them in a unique way. Involving your business in a weekly industry blog for example, is a great way to create ongoing content that will enhance your web site’s value to a visitor. If they liked what you shared on your site, they are more likely to submit that site to their favorite social network site like Facebook or Twitter and this will lead to more people visiting your site and inquiring about your product or service.
When Google comes knocking, they like to see that you have updated your site since they last visited. A Web Site that has updates, and is being updated regularly shows Google that it is an active site, and you will get more credit when someone does a search of your industry.
These are my three favorite tips that will help your web site thrive. There is no replacement for ongoing Search Engine Optimization from a professional, but taking the above steps will put you on the map (quite literally) and start you down the path to a more optimized and thriving online presence.
This is a republished article originally printed by Image Freedom Managing Member Matthew Egan over at MadeInSATX.com.