One of the best ways to attract more eyeballs to your business and web visits to your website is by showing up in relevant Google searches. Over 90% of worldwide search engine searches take place on Google, and the ability to generate Google search impressions can be a make-or-break factor for the success of your digital presence.
But how do you improve your Google search performance? If you have done any digging online, you probably read about search engine optimization (SEO) as well as paid search. Search engine optimization is about understanding Google’s search algorithm and taking actions that will improve the performance of your own website within that algorithm. Paid search is exactly how it sounds- you pay to have your link show up higher than it usually would for select search queries and are charged by Google per click that your link received.
There is a time and place for paid search, but for small businesses who are trying to scale their website traffic for long-term growth, organically trying to improve SEO is critical. The problem is everyone wants to improve their SEO- and that includes the more established websites and businesses. Most small businesses don’t have the time or money to be competitive in Google searches against large companies and corporations. There are so many things that big businesses do to get ahead in the SEO game, and it can be overwhelming for less-established business owners and entrepreneurs to keep up.
While it will always be a challenge to get ahead in the world of Google searches, there are things small businesses can do to put themselves in positions to succeed. In this guide, we will go over three quick hacks that small businesses can use to significantly improve their Google search presence without breaking the bank or spending too much time that can be effectively spent elsewhere.
Blogs and Backlinks- Two Birds, One Stone
Backlinks are links from one website to a page on another website, and they have multi-faceted value. Without even factoring in Google SEO, these links have traffic generating potential, and a quality backlink to your website will lead to site traffic simply through people clicking the link. There are plenty of different places where you can find backlinks- partner websites, review services, social media, indexing sites, news articles, etc. A well-placed backlink can bring consistent quality traffic, but for the sake of this guide, the real value of backlinks come from their impact on Google search. The quality and quantity of your backlinks play a huge role in Google’s algorithm, and the evidence shows that having a strong network of backlinks directly correlates to Google search placement.
We know having backlinks is important, but generating enough quality backlinks to be competitive in key Google searches is not a walk in the park. One of the easiest and most effective ways to generate backlinks is through blogging. Blog and content creation can be a high-value tactic to improve your Google search presence quickly.
First off, posting these blogs on your own website can help other facets of your SEO by including keywords and phrases in your blog that will show up in Google searches related to your business. Next, you can take that same blog content and post on third-party blog sites such as Medium and include links in your content that direct users to your website. Now you are getting double value: you are using the same blogs to receive an SEO boost from your own site’s content, plus you are generating high-quality backlinks from other websites! And you can post the same blog in other places such as social media as well to get even more compounding exposure from the same content!
While there is a lot of potential with this strategy, it is important to implement this approach correctly to get the best possible ROI on your time. First off, ensure the blog content you are producing is relevant to your website or business’s overall offering. The title, body, and URL of the blog should all align with the types of search terms and queries you want to appear in on Google. Make sure you are very thoughtful in your word choice. For example, if you work in the wedding dress business, make sure you often use phrases such as “wedding dress” in your content. Additionally, make sure the places you are posting this blog elsewhere are high-quality backlinks. As mentioned earlier, Medium is a great place to share your blog content for free. You don’t want to post these blogs on untrustworthy third-party sites that don’t have strong domain scores themselves according to Google’s algorithm. The best backlinks come from reputable, high-traffic domains.
Strategic Use of Keywords in URLs
When Google’s search algorithm is analyzing your website, it is scraping all the words on your site and in turn identifying which search query terms match the words that show up the most often. For example, if you own a specialty shampoo business that helps heal damaged hair, you will probably have the terms “shampoo”, “damaged hair recovery”, and similar phrases across your site in multiple places. The frequency of these terms on your site will directly impact how Google will affiliate your site with these terms.
Not all keyword and key phrase usage on your site is equal. The words in a title of a blog or site section will show up more prominently in Google’s algorithm than the same words in a paragraph or text copy. In other words, you should be putting the words you want to show up in Google searches on site sections, menu tabs, call to action buttons, blog titles, and other prominent site locations.
One place where many website owners forget to take advantage of this keyword element of Google’s algorithm is their websites’ URLs. While URLs are only a minor ranking factor Google uses when determining a particular page or resource’s relevance to a search query, keyword use in a URL does act as a ranking factor. So just like in your blog titles or section labels, using your site URLs to add keywords to the mix can be a tool in your toolkit to improve your google search performance. A well-keyworded URL also provides the benefit of giving someone who is considering clicking your link a preview of what they are about to see.
Using the shampoo example from above, let’s say this business’s overall domain is “nodamage.net” (at the time of writing this article, this website does not exist). Let’s say this fictional website has a section called “Shop”, which has the URL “nodamage.net/shop”. From this shop page, maybe there are many products to browse and purchase. Many businesses might configure the URL extension for any of these products to simply be the product number (i.e. “nodamage.net/shop/11345”). This would be a perfect use case for a better-keyworded URL! Maybe instead of providing the number, provide a description for the product, such “nodamage.net/shop/curly_hair_damage_repair_shampoo”. This might seem silly or arbitrary, but this page just became more likely to show up in a Google search for “damage repair shampoo for curly-haired people”.
Updating your URLs to be keyword-friendly can be a low-commitment task that will positively impact the number of impressions your site will receive for relevant search queries within search engines. This approach is best applied for blog post/content pages as well as product pages, but depending on your website, there could be other quality use-cases as well!
Targeting the Niche Searches
There are some searches that will always be a challenge to win impressions. If you cannot get on the first two pages of a Google search result, then you are not competitive within that Google search. Impressions from high-traffic search queries that will garner huge quantities of search events will be competitively fought over, and large companies that can invest boundless resources into SEO and paid search will ultimately be able to beat out smaller businesses. If a single-location restaurant owner is having a deal or promotion during the week of the Super Bowl, that owner would be out of touch with reality if they thought they could end up being one of the first search results for “Super Bowl” on Google without paying too much for clicks.
For SMBs who want to gain traction on Google, going after more targeted searches might benefit them a lot more. This same restaurant owner has a much better chance of winning impressions for Google search queries for “Super Bowl Restaurant Promotion Miami” and fighting for impressions within this particular search will not be heavily contested. He is now only competing against other restaurants in Miami with Super Bowl promotions. Of course, it is important not to go for too niche of searches, where the total population of search queries is too small overall to be sustainable. A good place to check the popularity of a particular search term is Google Trends!
How do you target these niche searches? The first way is through your paid search strategy, where you will be explicitly asked to submit which search queries for which you want to pay for clicks. Try to be a little more targeted in the searches you want users to user when finding your link because users who are more selective in what they are looking for online are more likely to be a good match and potential conversion for your website anyways.
The other primary way to target these niche queries is through the first two tactics listed above! Produce content and focus backlink strategy based on the queries you want your visitors to search. If you have an accounting business, write blogs about your specialization within accounting, and make sure to use keywords in your content and URLs that align appropriately to your specialization. If you specialize in accounting for construction companies, produce content and keywording strategy that directly uses the words “accounting for construction”. It is as simple as that!
Just Getting Started
Search engine optimization has grown into a massive industry, and there will always be more ways to improve your SEO and scale your web presence. The goal of this guide is to give SMBs some initial ideas to get the ball rolling, but this is just a starting point.
Once your business is ready to take the next steps in terms of search optimization, we recommend you reach out to us and see if we can offer you some strategic resources! We are always happy to connect our users to high-quality contacts, tools, and strategies and see their businesses flourish!
To learn about how search fits into a more holistic traffic acquisition strategy, give this guide a read!