How to Get Your Small Business to Appear in Search Results
If you just tried and failed to find your business’ website in Google search results, then this post is for you.
A search engine optimized website should appear for search terms like:
- Your Business Name (Easy)
- Local Industry Keywords (Medium)
- Other Industry-Related Keywords (Hard)
If you’ve recently searched in any of these categories without finding your website, we’re here to help. Let’s start with the easiest one – ranking for your own business name.
Why Isn’t My Business on Google, Bing, or Yahoo?
Believe it or not, but if you can’t find your business in search engine result pages (SERPs) you are not alone. Many businesses fail to rank for this essential term.
However, if you’re not ranking for your business name, there are several reasons why this could be happening.
- Duplicate Content
- High Competition
- Inefficient Keyword Optimization
- Spammy Website
- Improper Formatting
- No Google My Business Page (Google Only)
If you’re not sure what to make of this list, that’s okay. We’re going to break down each one of these potential reasons your business isn’t coming up on Google for its own name.
Duplicate Content – For some websites, the issue is a severe one and it’s known as duplicate content. If your site has duplicate content on it, that means that Google has determined that your site is just rehashing information that’s available elsewhere on the web.
But duplicate content doesn’t just exist in instances of plagiarism. In fact, many websites containing duplicate content are flagged because of the template they’re using.
In some industries, like reality and accounting, there are website templates that exist to make website building as easy as possible. Sadly, using these templates can often prevent search engines from respecting your website. They’ll view it as nothing more than a copy.
That said, don’t start panicking about your Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress site. This is a different kind of template, and they’re much more friendly to search engines.
High Competition – If you have a business name like “The T-Shirt Company” or anything else that’s more common, you’ll find that it’s extremely difficult to rank on Google. Because of this, it’s important that your business name be unique.
If your business is already established offline, you may be able to reach the first page on search engines over time, but it will take a lot of effort.
If your business is newer, consider re-naming it. Seriously. It’s that important.
Inefficient Keyword Optimization – If you take a look at your website, do you see your own business name anywhere besides in the URL? While it’s important not to make your website spam-ridden, you shouldn’t expect to find your business on Google or any other search engine if your business name doesn’t appear at least once in the body text on your homepage.
Spammy Website – If Google’s determined that your website is dangerous or spam-ridden, you’ll find it very difficult to rank for any keyword. To avoid appearing spammy, try fixing grammar & spelling errors, deleting duplicate content, and eliminating sketchy links to other sites.
Improper Formatting – Are you aware of the best practices for formatting an SEO-friendly website?
While you may be free to design your website however you’d like, search engines are free to ignore it for whatever reason they please.
Because of that, it’s important to format your website properly for SEO. Ensure that each page on your site has just one H1 Header Tag, fill in an missing image alt attributes, and create a sitemap. You’ll also want to ensure that your site provides search engines with meta descriptions.
Properly formatting your website’s pages could have a huge effect on SEO.
No Google My Business Page – This one’s specific to Google – the largest search engine on the internet.
If you’re trying to rank as a local business, it would be extremely beneficial for you to create a Google My Business Page. This will help your business to appear on maps and in Google’s “local snippet” but it will also have an effect on organic search results.
Other – If you feel like you’ve done everything right and still can’t find your business, you may need to wait a little longer. It can take search engines awhile to find websites and pages that are relevant to certain search terms, and we’d encourage you to have the patience for these search engines to find your website or the updates you’ve made.
How to Rank for Local Keywords
If your business comes up when you search for its name but doesn’t seem to appear anywhere else on search engines, you are sitting in the same place that many people end up getting stuck in.
It can be hard to rank for important industry-related search terms. However, if you’re operating a small business, especially one that specifically services your local area, then you could be missing out on low-hanging fruit – local keywords.
Just about every industry has some keywords that are tied to a locality like Minneapolis or Saint Paul. These search terms are valuable because in many cases, the buyers who are searching for them are close to being ready for a purchase.
Anyone looking up “plumbers in Minnesota” is likely to be in need of one, for instance.
But what are your industry’s local keywords? How do you find them and optimize for them?
While it’s eventually necessary to understand the basics of keyword research, we’ve simplified the process for now. Below, we’ve provided you with a list of keywords that could be relevant for a Twin Cities based business.
- [Your Industry] Minneapolis
- [Your Service] Minneapolis
- Best [Your Service] Minneapolis
- [Your Industry] Companies MN
- MN [Your Service]
- Cheapest [Your Service] Saint Paul
Assuming that the local tag is interchangeable (Minneapolis, Saint Paul, MN, Minnesota) you’re left only to discover the phrases searchers use to find people in your industry. If you’re a house painter, they may look for “house painting Minneapolis” or “exterior painting Minneapolis”. Find out what the most common variations seem to be and include these phrases on your website.
However, it’s important to “sprinkle” them throughout a site rather than “stuffing” them everywhere. Write a blog post here and there that relates to one of these keywords, include the most important ones on your homepage, and consider making pages that relate to your local service area.
Do this, and you’ll be well on your way towards optimizing for local keywords.
Ranking for Other Industry Keywords
Once you’ve started ranking for some local keywords and your own business name, then it’s time to take on some of the keywords that are not regionally based. The best keywords to go for are known as long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific queries based on a broader topic. Instead of trying to rank for an extremely broad keyword that’s difficult to appear for (such as “car”) try ranking for terms that are much more narrow in scope (like “blue sedan for sale”).
Over time, you’ll find your site’s ability to rank growing, and you’ll find that you’re able to rank for more difficult keywords.
When choosing these keywords, it’s best to target phrases that indicate queries related to your products or services. Find questions you can answer or products and services you can share about.
If you’re trying to optimize your website for search engines, we’d love to talk with you about your goals. Here at FeedbackWrench, we develop and implement digital marketing strategies for small businesses and ministries. Give us a call today to set up a free consultation.