With the rise of mobile search and social media, local Web-presence optimization is becoming paramount to small businesses. Local businesses need to understand how Google can drive awareness and traffic to their locations, and they need to recognize the critical role that search-engine results play in their competition against their peers.
Consumers are more likely to click on search engine results that appear on the first page, according to research. When consumers hear of a local business that is not well known, it's only natural that they conduct some research before making a purchase. Thus, "owning" the first page of the search engine results page (SERP) is an important part of Web-presence optimization for any local business.
You can optimize your Web presence to own page one of the Google SERPs in a variety of ways. Use a "build and buy" strategy that begins with paid advertising, and claim and create sites and social profiles that are active, optimized for search, and linked to one another.
Here are 10 effective ways your business can own the first page of search results.
1. Search Engine Advertising
Google search ads can appear at the very top of the SERPs, creating instant visibility for your brand, regardless of what results appear on the rest of the page. That's why it's important to bid on your business name. For any business keyword, search engine advertising is the quickest and most cost-effective way to secure top billing on a SERP when consumers search for your type of business or your business name online.
A business website is important for ranking well on search engines, especially if your domain contains your exact business name. By creating a search-optimized site with a front page that strategically lists your business name, address, phone number, and other important details, you can help your site rank well for searches that use your business name.
3. Optimized Website Pages
Create keyword-optimized pages throughout your website (e.g., the About, Products, Contacts, and Press Releases pages) to increase the chances of getting your business website ranked for your business name and getting individual pages of your site to rank high on SERPs.
Typically, up to four additional pages can rank on SERPs before Google displays a "Show more results from [website URL]" link.
Search engines love relevant, fresh, dynamic, and regularly published content about your business, industry, and community. Blogging is one of the most effective ways to dominate the first page of SERPs. In addition, social "likes" and "shares" are becoming important signals to search engines. People tend to share timely, informative, or entertaining content from blogs, rather than static pages from websites, so you can create search-friendly links and social authority via your blog.
You can create and host a blog in several ways. For example, you can integrate your blog with your business website, or create a blog on a different Web address and cross-link the blog with your website. The latter will enable your blog—with its unique Web address—to rank on its own. Moreover, your blog will be deemed a unique site, which means multiple pages from your blog could rank individually on SERPs for your business name.
5. Google Place Page
Claiming your Google Place page is an absolute must for any local business. You can optimize your Place page for search around your business name and business keywords, and your listing can also appear in Google Maps and at the top of the SERPs.
6. Google Profiles
The launch of Google+, Google's social network, along with its recent decision to open up the network to businesses, too, bodes well for those seeking attention from search engines.
Those profiles can rank high on SERPs for your business name; of course, you should include business-name keywords in your Google Profiles or Google+ About pages.
7. Online Directories and Listings
List your business on digital directories and listing sites, such as Citysearch. Think of such sites as the "Yellow Pages" of the Web. By making sure that all of your listings are accurate and the information on all the sites is identical down to the details, you can help search engines such as Google pull your listings data higher in search.
8. Social Profiles
Claiming, optimizing, and using social profiles are important ways to own more real estate on page one of SERPs. The four most popular social networks used for ad campaigns are Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Company profiles on those social sites will often rank high for your business name, especially if you optimize your profiles to include your official business name in the content.
9. Review Sites
Listing your business on local review sites, such as Yelp, is another way you can own more territory in search. Customers may already be leaving reviews about your business online, so it's important to claim your business profiles on review sites to monitor and manage your online reputation.
10. Syndicated Press Releases
Creating search-optimized press releases when major news occurs and syndicating them via a wire service can spread news about your business and help you own more SERP territory. Major news sites can pick up your press releases off the wire and run them, word-for-word, on their sites—which would pack a lot of authority with search engines.
To add more authority to your overall Web presence, optimize your press-release content just as you would a website page, and include links to your business website, pertinent blog posts, and social profiles.
* * *
Local businesses today have more options than ever for optimizing search engine rankings and owning page one of SERPs. Begin by thinking strategically about what would make the most sense for your business based on your available resources and what would be most relevant to your target customers.