I had the good fortune of starting my professional writing career as a content creator for a small boutique marketing firm on the East Coast. The firm hired me to write short articles to help their clients (local exterminators, locksmiths, landscapers, and other micro-businesses) rank on the first page of Google for their respective cities. I didn’t know it at the time, but that one online gig that paid me a penny a word set the foundation for seven years of success in my home-based business as a content strategist. So, in this post, I am going to teach you how to get your business found online.
Search Engines 101
Perhaps the most important marketing skill you can learn right now is getting your business to show up in search results. With tools like Google Home and Alexa enabling your potential customers to search by voice, it’s crucial that you find a way to make sure your business is always the answer to, “Okay, Google…”
Before we get into the five simple tactics, I want to make sure you have a clear understanding of the how search engines work.
A large chunk of the money Google makes – and that company makes a lot of money – comes from Ad revenue. In 2016, Google generated $79.4 billion in ad revenue, according to Statista. How?
Well, whenever you search for something on Google, the search engine tries to provide you with the best possible result. So, if you search for a sushi bar nearby, Google is going to use your device’s location to provide you with a list of sushi bars close to you that have good reviews and that are still open for business.
Pretty awesome stuff.
Take a quick look at the screenshot above. The listings at the top of the page are typically from paid advertisers. The majority of adverts are tailored to your needs to intersts, but sometimes there can be some that have nothing to do with your website at all. If this is the case, why not look into something like a Chrome extension called AdBlocker by Trustnav. It can help remove any unwanted adverts placed on your pages without your permission. The way Google makes its money is by providing Adwords advertisers the opportunity to show up at the top of your search results. You and I continue to use Google for searches over other search engines like Bing or Yahoo! because every few months, Google makes an adjustment to their algorithm that allows users who are searching for things online to get better and better results.
So, remember that. Google makes $217.5 million every single day by listing the best possible results (products, services, business, statistics, etc.) whenever people conduct Google searches.
If you own a business or offer a service and your business isn’t listed with Google or showing up online when people search for your product or service, you’re in trouble.
That’s because the customers who don’t know the name of your business won’t search for you. And if you’re not showing up in search results when people search for the product or service you provide, your business is basically invisible!
People search for what they need. So, someone will search for “topiary design” but not necessarily “Marlena’s Landscaping.” They will search for “nail shop near me” instead of “Geneva’s L.A. Nail Suite.” Heck, I search for Soul Food to find the phone number to the place around the corner because I never bothered to learn the restaurant’s name!
So, it’s important for your business to rank on Google, but here’s the key:
You rank on Google by making sure your site’s pages and posts are optimized for the words and phrases people are actually typing into their search bars.
These are called keywords.
And that’s where this post comes in.
Here’s How to Get Your Business Found Online
Now that you understand how search engines work, here are the 5 simple things you can do to get your business, service, or even your website found online.
Find Out Your Keywords
So, what would someone search for to find your business? That’s the question you must answer and that is what companies pay SEOs to find out.
For my business, a lot of people search for these words:
- Ghostwriter (in Atlanta)
- Editor (in Atlanta)
- Help writing a book
- Local SEO
- How to write a capabilities statement
And a million other things.
Even after 7 years in business, nobody ever searches for my name or my company’s name until after they have already spoken with me and are doing a little digging into my background.
So, here’s something to remember – People usually search in two ways:
- They search for products and/or services they know they need
- Or, if they don’t know what they need, they search for the problem or challenge they actually have
So, if you make soaps, for instance, someone may search for “specialty soap”. If that’s a product or service you provide, that should be one of your keywords.
The easiest way to find out what people are searching for is to begin typing your core product or service into Google’s search bar. Google will often auto-fill, right? It makes recommendations based on what it knows about you and what other people are searching. In other words, Google will tell you what your customers are typing online to find you. These are your keywords.
Now, once Google populates the search results for my Google search, “specialty soap” (I dropped the S) I can scroll down to the bottom of the page and get another set of suggestions from Google on what to search. These are also keywords.
Make a list of potential keywords and use this Google search strategy to find out what people are actually searching online. I’ll tell you what to do with that information in a bit.
Take the Back-Way to the Front Page with Keyword Phrases
This tactic is really going to help you if you happen to have a product or business that other more established brands are already ranking for online.
Here’s a great example from a friend of mine who is in the same position. Rochelle Pydana Buckner recently launched Pydana Collection, a line of haircare products for women who don’t process their hair with chemicals. One of her more popular items is a thermal cap, which women use while deep conditioning their hair.
Here’s her dilemma: There is already a company sort of dominating the thermal cap space, and ranking on Google. So, I made three suggestions to Rochelle that I will also make to you.
Use your competitor’s name as a keyword
First, if you’re going to pay for Google Advertising, try rank for your competitor’s name by listing it as one of your keywords.
If you take a look at the screenshot below, you can see my actual search was to find out more about QuickBooks for Freelancers. What comes up in my search results are three of QuickBooks’ primary competitors – Bench.co, Freshbooks.com, and Waveapps.com (which is what I actually use).
So, use your competitor’s name as a keyword. Do this only if you’re paying for advertising, but listing your competitor’s name as a keyword is an effective way to keep yourself in the game.
Use long-tail keywords
In Rochelle’s case, instead of trying to get on Google for a term like “haircare products” that will be very hard to rank for, I encouraged her to rank for ingredients.
For instance, her products are great, but I will be honest, I had never heard of some of the ingredients until I saw her product line. So, one product she uses is Cupuacu. Here’s what I found for Cupuacu when I did a preliminary Google search for it:
There’s only one company paying to rank for that word – The Body Shop. Which tells me she can use this as one of her keywords and fly to the top of Google in a few weeks. And again, a quick look at Google’s list of suggestions gives me a list of keywords. If you look in the middle of that screenshot above, there’s a box called “People also ask”. That’s another great place to find keywords.
Create a Full Page on Your Site About Each Keyword
Once you have your keywords, here’s what you’re going to do with them. You’re going to create one page on your site for each keyword.
I know a lot of companies have a products and services page. Don’t do that.
I make a products and services section on your site and give each product, service, and keyword its own well-written page.
So, to boost the site for the Pydana Collection on Google, Rochelle may choose to write an entire piece on Cupuacu – where it comes from, how people uses it, what the benefits are, and maybe even list some other products and brands that use Cupuacu butter.
Doing this gives you two fantastic benefits. First, it will help you to rank better on Google. Second, it will give you credibility.
Get Your SSL Certificate
By 2018, Google is going to start using security as a measurement of a site’s credibility. I will tell you from experience that getting an SSL certificate isn’t hard, but it isn’t easy. And if you’re not particulary tech-savvy, I wouldn’t advise you to do it yourself.
But you can use a service like Cloudflare or Let’s Encrypt to get a temporary shared SSL certificate for free. But I would recommend you actually buy one. A cheap SSL certificate can cost as little as $12. Most hosting companies are going to sell them for at least $40 or $50 per certificate per URL you have.
Because the rush to get an SSL is still so new, I can’t tell you what the long-term ramifications are of grabbing one of the cheaper ones. So, I would recommend getting your website hosting company on the phone and asking them what you need to do.
If you use platform like Shopify, Volusion, or even one of the affordable website builder programs like GoDaddy’s Go Central, the SSL certificate comes with your subscription. But check with your hosting company just to be sure.
List Your Company with Directories
Whether you have a blog or you offer products and services, or work with a network marketing company, get your business listed in the directories.
Add your company, your contact information, product descriptions, ownership info, and any other information needed to online directories. This includes blog directories if you have a blog, or if you have a business list your company with Yelp, White Pages, Super Pages, Hot Frog, Merchant Circle, FourSquare, and any other credible directory out there.
Platforms like Merchant Circle have blog functionality where you may want to announce new products, new team members, promotions and things like that.
The more place you can put your company, the better.
And the crowning jewel of course, is listing your business on Google. Google verifies businesses with postcards. So, once you apply for a Google Business listing, Google will send you a postcard in the mail that contains a code. Use that code to verify your listing and you can be listed online.
Keep in mind, though, if you run a home-based business that’s the address that Google will use and there will be a picture of your house showing up on Google Maps along with your business name.
In Atlanta, we have co-working spaces like Nex Atlanta that you can use as your official business address for like, $25 a month. If you work from home like me, you may want to do something like that.
One final note: Create content. Great content. And do it as much as you can. Sometimes, it’s not about being the next Arianna Huffington. Sometimes just documenting your journey is just the content people need from you.
Okay. That’s my time folks. See you in my Google searches.
Sorilbran Stone is an Atlanta-based content strategist and digital project manager. She is a #girlmom of 4 who works from home. You’re welcomed to watch as she builds-out her new website, MommyIsWorking.com. Find her on Instagram @MommyIsWorking and Facebook @HomeBusiness365.