5 Steps for SMBs to Rise to the Top of Google
If there's one online lead-generation vehicle that small and midsized businesses (SMBs) can't afford to ignore, it's Google. Research shows that the majority of consumers (97 percent) are looking for information on the web, and Google dominates the search market. So for businesses to succeed online, they must be present in Google search.
Business owners often admit they have limited time to focus on managing their company's local search presence. Because Google is constantly rolling out new products and services that help SMBs build their online visibility, it can be difficult to keep up. To tip the tables in their favor, SMBs should adopt a multifaceted Google local marketing strategy that will drive more website traffic and eventually convert traffic into leads.
For SMBs, attracting new and existing customers is often determined by where they place in Google searches. Specifically for lead-focused SMBs like contractors, real estate agents, lawyers and physicians, having a prominent place in Google search results is critical to capturing customers when they're looking for products or services.
Here are five strategies SMBs should implement to improve their Google visibility:
1. Set up a basic Google profile. The first step is to set up a personal profile to gain access to all of Google's resources (Google+, Gmail, YouTube, etc.) and to rank favorably in search results. This can be completed at https://accounts.google.com/SignUp.
2. Create a descriptive Google+ page. As of December 2012, Google+ had 500 million active users. On your Google+ business page, include products and services and related photos and videos. Completing all fields of information within a Google+ business page and using keywords (think services) can help a business compete for a high-ranking position on Google for local search results related to those terms.
3. Use Google Authorship for increased visibility. Google Authorship links an individual's online content (e.g., blog posts and articles written) to a Google+ profile, helping business owners gain instant credibility and a higher ranking in search results. This expertise can give prospects more confidence in selecting your products or services. One tip: Make sure the byline (your name) on blogs and articles matches the name on your Google+ profile for the best visibility.
4. Ensure business details are accurate on Google+ Local. Google has reported that about one out of three searches are local in nature. And with an increased number of consumers looking for SMBs on their mobile devices, this number is expected to rise exponentially. Appearing high on the first page of a prospect's local search results is imperative. For the best results, ensure location detail is correct and incorporate videos, photos and other relevant business content for added visibility. Take it to the next level by encouraging loyal customers to write reviews, which are tied to business listings on Google+ Local.
5. Make the most of YouTube. Online video viewership is growing rapidly. That means SMBs should upload videos that relate to their business. Today, videos are simple to create, easy to share and often become viral, which could put a business in front of a new base of local prospects. YouTube allows a video's publisher to write descriptions. Businesses can take full advantage of these descriptions by adding links to the company site to increase backlinks. "Geo-tagging" videos is another powerful function, but is oftentimes ignored. Adding the city that your company serves in the "Tags" section will help your videos be found when YouTube users search for videos by location.
As Google continues to offer new services, local SMBs need to stay ahead of the curve so they can be found in Google search results. Collectively implementing these five steps properly and consistently will help a business increase overall visibility in Google search results, drive website traffic and gain more profitable leads.