I have a friend who started a service business and I created her website. When we were finishing up, she told me emphatically that she was not going to blog or be on any Social Media platforms. Of course I gave her my spiel about all of my reasons why this was a terrible idea in terms of her business being found on the Internet, but she was adamant that she was not going to do any of that.
Instead, my friend said that she felt like their business was going to come mostly from referral and marketing calls and that her goal for the website was to have their services listed online for people who they called on to refer back to.
It was somewhat surprising to me that just two weeks later, I got a call from that same friend wondering why her business was not coming up on the first page when she typed into Google the main term people would use to find her business!
Really, some of you might think this mindset is out of the ordinary, but it really isn’t. There are a lot of late adaptors, or people who don’t do social media, because they are worried about privacy, or that don’t have time for it or….fill in the blank for the other reasons they tell themselves they can’t blog or do social media for their businesses. But it really does work!
Your business can come up in search results and for some businesses, especially local service companies, it is essential. If you are in an industry or business that is not very Internet savvy, you will have a much easier time to moving to a first page listing than if you are in a more Internet competitive industry.
After I got the call from my friend about her search engine listing, or lack thereof, I decided to do a test. I went to her site and optimized one of her pages for her main key word phrase with the city her business is in, after it. Then I set out to get her two links from other quality sites back to her site.
First, I added her site to my portfolio and in my write up of what we did creating the site, I mentioned her key word phrase with the city, and linked back to her business.
Next, I had one of our friends post an announcement on his site about the opening of her new business, which mentioned the same key word phrase and city. Finally, we had her business listed and verified on Google+ Local.
Initially, my friend’s business came up on page 13 of the Google search for her main keyword phrase. Over the next six weeks after taking those three actions, I watched her business-listing climb steadily up to the third entry on the first page. What is even more important is that they are getting business coming in from the website.
Just imaging what you can do for your business if you are willing and able to do a little more than I did.
1. Make a list of the keyword phrases that people will use to search for your service or business. This should not be your business name because hopefully you will come up for your own business name, but instead choose a phrase or phrases that people who don’t know you exist may use to search for your business. Add your city to the end of your key word phrase. For example, “WordPress Website Design Atlanta”, is a lot easier for me to rank for with 6,240,000 results than “WordPress Website Design” with 149,000,000 results. Install the WordPress SEO plugin on your site, which lets you optimize your content for that keyword phrase on a page or post basis.
2. If you do business in other specific locations you can create pages for each of these locations Do not just copy the text from the other pages since Google does not like duplicate content. Instead, describe the neighborhood or cities and how you do business in those specific locations in slightly different words.Then optimize the content for these location pages for your keyword phrase + the specific neighborhood or city name.
3. Claim and verify your business with Google + Local and on Yelp. They are both free. If your business is on Google+ Local your listing, along with a few others, may come up on the front page of the search results for you business/service identified with a Google Map marker.
To claim your business, fill out your business profile thoroughly and add your logo and any other images that show your business off well. Make very sure your address, phone and email contact information is complete and accurate and is the same across all social sites. (Using a consistent name, address and phone number is very important to getting positive search results.) Before Google will publish your listing, they will verify that you are the business owner by calling you or sending you a card in the mail. Yelp also has a confirmation process.
4. Ask for reviews from your happy clients. Having a lot of mostly good reviews helps with your search engine ranking. After working with a client, you should ask them to write a review about your business on one of the online sites. You might want to create a card to give them with instructions on how and where to write the reviews. You can also include a request for reviews in your email newsletter communications with your clients.
5. If you would like your photo to appear in a search result next to a post or page you have written about your business, you need to create a Google + account. You will verify who you are and that you are a contributor to your website.Then you go to your website and verify that you are the same person as the Google+ profile. This verification allows Google to use your photo on your search result
This is eye candy for the people looking a page of business listings. Which one do you think they will click on?
Fill out your Google+ profile completely with your name, your real photo – not a photo of your logo- along with all of the information about yourself and your business. There is an area where you can include your business website address and other social media accounts. Under that you will find another area to specify all the website urls that you are a contributing author for. After adding the url for your business website, go to your business website and one of the settings on the WordPress SEO plugin will let you verify that you are an author of the content on this website creating the connection for Google between you the person and you as a writer of content on your business website.
6. Creating a Facebook Page using your business name is helpful for coming up in searches. This is a business page; do not use your business logo on a regular Facebook Profile. When making the Facebook Page for your business, you will be originally assigned a long string URL which you can change for a vanity url that is stripped down to just your business name or if it is taken, a variation of your name that is short, intuitive and easy to remember.
When you add new content to your website, you can repurpose it on your Facebook Page and you can also create or share new content on your Facebook Page of interest to people in your industry. These Facebook items can show up in Google searches.
7. Create a Twitter account. It is better to use your real name and photo on Twitter, but you can add a link to your business and your website in your Twitter profile. Find people to follow by using a program such as Tweepi that allows you to find someone in your industry you know if active on Twitter and see and follow the people that they follow or who follow them. You don’t have to spend a lot of time Tweeting but it is advantageous for you to try to share some articles of interest to your industry and retweet things they tweet. These Tweets may also come up in a Google search.
8. Think of strategies to build links back to your site. Search engines will give your business more ranking love when other reputable people have indicated that they like your content by linking to it. Be careful about link exchanges or getting links from sites that do not have a good ranking or status with Google. Google knows these are not real indicators that people find your business or content worth linking to. A better strategy is to find opportunities where you receive a link because you wrote a guest post on a good website, you spoke to an organization and received a link back to your business where they announced the event on their website. You can become a sponsor of a local non-profit or organization or a Meetup to get a link back to your website. Links from .edu sites are very authoritative and as such are highly regarded.
With a bit of work up front and some ongoing tweaking, you can get your local business to show up and be found. Why don’t you do your own test and let us know what happens? We would love to hear from you.