If you are a small business, I’m here to remind you why you care about your online presence: You want to be found by potential customers. Most small business owners get this. What they don’t get, is what they have to do in order to make it a reality. This is where they get lost and spend lots of money on a professional website, or even worse- hiring a search engine optimization “firm” get them found on Google.
SEO can leave you feeling burnt out- there’s lots of technical jargon, sketchy service providers, and quasi-ethical tactics. Plus, you can’t help but feel like that you have to trick Google into listing your website first and then trick people into clicking on it.
In reality, this isn’t about tricks or deception. Lets say you run a store that sells yoga clothes in Portland, OR. Trying to come up number one in Google for “yoga clothes” could be a year long, cash intensive pursuit. However, the competition for your business in local search results is much much lower. Coming up #1 for “Yoga Clothes Portland, OR”, is reasonable and achievable without all the confusing SEO stuff.
While you’d get more hits by ranking #1 for “yoga clothes”, someone who is in Portland and needs to buy yoga clothes, isn’t going to search for just “yoga clothes”. They are going to search for “yoga clothes” plus their location.
How to Do It
One of the most important things Google looks for are other websites that point to your website.
Lucky for you, there are a lot of website that want to point to your website if you are a small business. If you take the time to put yourself in the following three places, your business will be coming up in local search results before you know it.
Google started integrating maps results into general search results a few years ago. Even if you don’t have a website, your business can start ranking in local search results.
- Head over to http://www.Google.com/submityourcontent/tools.html#location and click on the Google Places link.
- Enter your country and business phone number. If it finds your business, click edit. If not, you can add it.
- Provide as much information as you can. You can even put in your hours, a photograph (recommended) and parking details. These are all things that help you stand out in search results.
Facebook pages rank really well, and really quickly. In fact, when I first started Cloud Coach, my Facebook page was ranking higher than my own home page for a couple of days.
- Facebook has streamlined the process for creating a page. For a step-by step walk-through go here and click on ‘Step By Step”
- Or if you want to dive right in, head over to: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and follow the prompts. You’ll be up and running in no time!
This extremely popular review site is especially important for brick and mortar businesses. In fact, your business has probably already been reviewed on Yelp without you knowing it.
- Head over to Yelp.com and search for your business. It’s probably already listed. Did you find it?
- If yes, click the link that allows you to ‘unlock’ the page. If your business isn’t already listed, go to https://biz.Yelp.com/ and sign up for a free biz account to create your page.
In addition to being able to edit your website, hours and other details, Yelp even provides analytics and alerts so you can respond to reviews (positive and negative) and further interact with your customers. This encourages ustomers to review you, which helps your local search results along.
Doing these three things cannot and should not replace an overall SEO strategy for your business. Luckily, you’ve found yourself on a website that offers excellent SEO resources. I for one am excited Laura Roeder’s upcoming webinar on SEO and think you should be too.
Getting potential customers to find your website is one piece of your online strategy. Once you have visitors stopping by, your focus should shift as you start to build a mailing list, write great content, and interact via social media. These are all things that will help you get what you ultimately want: More customers.
How have you gotten yourself found in Google? Share your experience and tips in the comments.