Unlike brick and mortar locations, your website can be accessed from anywhere, instantaneously. All they need to know is the address, or URL, and your customer can enter your domain. But what if everyone who needs your business doesn’t know who you are? How do they find you?
There are many different ways you can spread the word about your business: You can promote your content on social media. You can take out billboard space and promote your business and its website. You can buy sponsorships. You can buy print ads. You can buy digital ads. You can even pay for search ads that bring your website to the top of the search results.
If you are able to do all of these things well, they add up in two ways: they give you visibility in all of the spaces, and they cost you lots of dollars.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a big trigger word for businesses online. The idea of SEO is that websites need to be optimized according to what the search engine wants in order to show up in search results. Google (and other search engines) want users to keep using their product to find content online, so they have created an algorithm to show the most relevant content to match the keywords and phrases people search for.
89% of the time, people begin their research for products and services with Google. As a business on the Internet, it’s your goal to align what your customers want with what it is that you offer, so that when your customers search for what they want, it’s your website that appears. That also means understanding and utilizing the spaces that Google has created to help match relevant businesses with the needs of Internet searchers.
That is SEO in a nutshell. So, how do you make sure that your website is checking off all of the criteria to help you move up in search rankings?
While it may seem impossible or overwhelming, there are five ways to combat Google when it comes to product search.
Having a Google Business Profile is a free and easy step to gain visibility within Google, and it is your first step to “winning” online. This profile is how businesses show up when someone researches a local product or service. For example, if you search “pizza near me,” you are going to get a list of nearby restaurants who serve pizza, as long as they have a Google Business Profile. This gives you visibility in both Google’s traditional search engine as well as Google Maps.
Back when the portable computer became a thing, companies called it a “notebook computer.” Here’s what the trend lines look like for those search terms over time:
Everyday users of computers, however, preferred the colloquial term, “laptop computer.” You can see from the chart above that businesses still hung on there for quite some time, pushing to use their name, but despite their best efforts, the public wants “laptops,” not “notebook computers.”
Corporate jargon and insider language makes loads of sense to people in your industry, but your customer might not be searching for those words. In fact, they might not even be searching for your product or service. More likely, your customer is seeking answers to problems they have. Your website ought to seek to answer those questions, through blog posts, articles, lead magnets, or landing pages, to help your target customer find the answers they are looking for… from you, their trusted, local expert.
Research what it is your customers are searching for related to your business, and develop quality content that will meet the needs of those target customers.
There’s a whole system of SEO work that helps your website perform best in search: using keyword rich content, including keywords in header text, linking to keyword content elsewhere on your site, and more can all help your website move up in rank. In addition to putting keywords in the right places, Google also favors content that customers find engaging. A coded page of content that just says “laptop computers” 80,000,000 times but doesn’t have any actual substance will not keep users engaged or convert them into customers. Customer behavior on that site influences how Google ranks that site, and bad content is never good, no matter how many SEO toolkits you’ve used.
Create great content, and then arrange it within the framework that Google pays attention to so users can find your site.
Backlinks, sometimes referred to as inbound links, help Google know that your website is trusted and reliable. A backlink is when another organization links to (or refers to) content on your website. These links signal to Google that your business has credibility. They can help improve your rankings in search.
If you are a member of an association or chamber, make sure your online directory listing is up to date with your website in it. Optimize your social media business accounts to include a link to your website. Think of other places that your content, whether it’s your homepage or articles on your site, might be of use, and suggest linking to that site. All of these measure increase your digital footprint and signal to Google you are a trustworthy guide for potential customers.
Online reviews are one of the best ways to help Google see that your business is a credible resource for other customers who are searching for similar products/services. Genuine reviews (don’t go buying fake reviews—this can really blow up in your face) signal that not only do others in your industry and community trust you (backlinks) but you also have a cache of satisfied past customers. The more reviews you have on Google or Facebook, the more likely your organization is to rank higher than your competitors in Google listings.
Unfortunately, organic search often doesn’t carry the weight of promoting your business on its own. SEO work goes a long way to position your site for success, but ultimately, in order for your site to rank at the top of the page, you need to pair your excellently optimized site with brand awareness, so that when people think of laptop computers, for instance, it’s your brand they think of first.
Even the brands with excellent brand awareness invest in an array of digital marketing and traditional marketing tactics to reach their target audience. To build brand awareness, pair SEO with search and display ads to boost traffic to your site and attract the right kinds of customers to your page.
If you’re ready to dig into SEO on your own, you can download our SEO Cheat Sheet here. If the idea of combining SEO with paid advertising feels overwhelming, my team at Spire has spent years creating attractive websites that convert as part of larger marketing strategies. We can help you get the results you’re looking for online. Contact a member of our sales team today to start the conversation.