There are a few small businesses that get it right. They get a great design for their site, update content frequently with a CMS like Joomla! or WordPress, and they commit the time to learn how to get found online in their niche. If that’s you, you’re well ahead of the curve and your local competitors
However, you’re more likely to fall in the bucket of the business owners that are just too damn busy with the business to sit down and fiddle around with Google. Understandable, but in today’s world, not a good enough excuse to be lost in PageRank obscurity.
Your ranking on Google is way too important to shrug off. If you’ve noticed a drop in new customers, the reason may be that you’re invisible in the digital world, even with your website up.
So I’ve put together a checklist of 10 things that will do wonders for your ranking, and you should be able to get them done in under an hour. This isn’t a silver-bullet to a #1 ranking, but it will put you ahead of 95% of the other businesses in your area.
1) Find your keywords. You’d be surprised at how many pool service providers in New York don’t have the simple phrase “pools new york” anywhere on their page. Think about what your customers search for when they’re looking for you. Go to The Google Adwords Keyword Tool and test different words/phrases to see the monthly traffic, as well as the competition. Pick 5 that are not super-competitive, but have significant traffic (at least a few hundred searches per month). You may not be able to rank on “pools new york” right away, but maybe there’s an opportunity with something more specific, like “pool openings suffolk county.”
2) Create fun, interesting content. Before you start a blog, which I’ll soon talk about, make sure your current content doesn’t read like an instruction manual. People don’t waste their time reading boring things. It’s a simple concept that most businesses seem perpetually out of touch with. Make your work sound as exciting as it can be. If you don’t seem passionate about it on your website, why will a customer be passionate about buying from you?
3) Implement your keywords frequently, but carefully. You need to have those keywords that you chose appear often on your pages, especially your homepage, but it shouldn’t sound unnatural. Going back to the “pool openings suffolk county” phrase; that’s hard to put in a sentence. There are a couple of tricks to this. The easiest is to use punctuation ( “If you need pool openings, suffolk county can be a tough place to get a good price.” “…for all your pool openings. Suffolk County, Nassau County, and Queens all fall in our service area.” ). You can also try to end your lines with one part of the phrase and begin the next line with the second part. But make sure you sound natural!
4) Use meta data, but don’t overload it. You can add meta tags, or embedded words that don’t appear on your page, in the files of your site ( this is a good tutorial on how to do it ). Stick to your five keywords though. Don’t fall victim to loading it up with tons of words that you think people “might” search for, because it will actually detract from your important ones.
5) Limit Your Flash. Lots of designers use flash to create some nifty looking, animated websites. However, Google won’t pick it up at all. So, if your main content is in Flash, it’s useless for page ranking purposes. Most local businesses should use it sparingly or not at all.
7) Create a site map. They’re not the most beautiful pages in the world, but it definitely reflects in Google. The algorithm likes good internal site structure.
Have active conversations. Listen to others, competitors, and mentors on their blogs and in social media. Comment on their content. Ask for feedback on your site. Just be all over the place and link where it’s not intruding. Share your content when it’s relevant, and you’ll slowly start to build the right kinds of inbound links.
9) Give your pictures titles and “alt” tags. Google can’t see your pictures unless there are words embedded in them. Find out how to do it here .
10) Add a blog, or start utilizing the one you have. It’s very important to have frequently updating information that is relevant to your readers and the phrases you’re looking to rank for on Google. Don’t be afraid to have a personality here. You don’t need to be a commercial for your company. Think about what actually interests people and the most exciting parts of your business. Do you solve frustrating problems? Do you have awesome client success stories? Are there funny parts of your ordinary day that you’d like to share? It’s all fair game, and will actually be read.