As an SEO, I am often asked by small business owners why their business is not ranking at the top of Google. Here’s just the tip of the iceberg. Fixing these SEO basics will bring your website into this decade to contend with competitors online. There are hundreds of more items you could be doing to fully optimize your website with the most current Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and the list is ever changing.
- Check Your Search Location – When you Google yourself, are you set to the right search town? If not, you can set your search tools.
- Google My Business Page – Did you claim and fill out your GMB page 100%? If not, competitors can creep ahead of you on local search results. Make sure to update your page at least every 21 days.
- Online Reviews – Do you have more reviews than your competitors? Google My Business page reviews directly affect your star rating online and show up under your name in the local results. Many competitors do not have any reviews. You need a minimum of 5, then 2-3 per month. There are many rules, regulations, and tips on GMB reviews. LINK HERE. TIP: Best to have customers review on their phones because any reviews connected to your wifi will be taken down. More on online reviews here LINK HERE.
- Mobile vs. Desktop and Density – Have you searched for your business on your phone, your friend’s phone, a tablet, and different computers? Google’s algorithm is very advanced and is updated twice per day. Results vary on different devices and locations of the devices. Results can also change at different times of the day if your business hours are open or closed during a search. As for density – Area, population, amount of distance, and amount of competitors can affect where you rank on Google. For example, a pizza place in a rural town with a low population will have a bigger search range that can expand for 20 miles. But the same pizza place in the same chain in a highly populated city could only show up on someone’s mobile device within a 1 mile range. And if there are many pizza places within that mile, then the search range can be even less.
- Ranking for right keyword – You may be ranking for a low traffic or high competition keyword. Use the free Google Keyword Planner tool. You must have a free Google Adwords account to access this feature. There are many free keyword planning tools.
- Blog – Do you have an active blog with great information? You may not be optimizing it for search engines. Be consistent about including the keyword phrases you want to rank for in your blog title, meta data, body copy, and links.
- Meta Data – Install Yoast or All-In-One SEO pack to the backend of your website if it isn’t there already. For each page, write a meta title, meta description, and choose 1-2 meta keywords/keyword phrases. Why? This is how you change what shows up under your business’ result on Google. When you Google something, this is what you read to decide which link to click on.
- Citations Match – A citation is any instance of your business name, address, and phone number online. They are like online phonebooks. There are thousands of citations online. Filling out and correcting citations are one of the largest factors that you are not ranking on Google. Make sure that at least the top 50 LINK HERE are 100% consistent. That means correcting Street vs. St and even a period or comma in your business name matters – A LOT. Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike hire someone to correct these because they are time consuming – about 15 minutes per citation when you get good. A college student or niece or nephew will do. Awesomedynamic.com can train them as well. Yellowpages.com and Facebook.com are examples of citations.
- Backlink Profile – Make sure you have at least 20 quality backlinks. Google was built on the idea of backlinks and it is still a large part of how the search engine works. A backlink is a link that connects your website with another website. It usually looks like blue text that you can click on. The idea of search engines are the more links that point to your site, the better the information must be. So reputable news sites and websites with lots of great, valuable content will have tons of natural backlinks pointing to them. The problem is they are hard to obtain. You can’t call CNN.com and ask or even pay for them to add a backlink in one of their articles that leads back to your website. You can do a press release, ask smaller and local websites for backlinks, or exchange backlinks with other business owners in the area.
- Not Enough Website Content – More content means both Google can read and understand what your pages are all about and your customers can get more quality information before they buy. Make sure your website represents you as if you were a 24 hour in person salesman. 300-600 words minimum on each service or product page and 1500 words minimum on homepage. Make sure you have separate pages for each service or product. This is a lot and no one wants to read a novel. Add pictures/videos/infographics to make it visually appealing. If you want to get really advanced, try doing blocks and squares to visually separate the content like a magazine a.k.a. parallaxess.
TIP: Google Alerts – Set up Google Alerts for your business to check when your blogs, press releases, and mentions about your business pop up online
After you’re done with all of the above you should be light years ahead of your non-seo competitors and competitive with your competitors currently paying for seo. In order to get ahead, it takes months and years of constant SEO work and tactics to keep up with an industry that has search engines changing algorithms twice per day. SEO is not a set it and forget it item. Think of it as part of your marketing budget. You wouldn’t advertise once on TV and write 1 facebook post. So with your SEO, make sure you are setting aside time or paying someone to do it for you on a consistent basis.