Do I really NEED to be on the first page of Google search engine results?
Almost all questions in this day and age are answerable by Google and understanding how to get your website on the first page of Google search results is one of the most profitable moves you can make for your business. In fact, Google occupies 92% of search engine market share with Bing at 2.28% and Yahoo as even less at 1.52%. I dare say Google’s powers are boundless and can even help you gain website traffic while spiking revenue!
Many entrepreneurs don’t fully understand how to use Google’s boundless powers to their benefit. Here is where the rubber meets the road: consumers don’t want to click more than they absolutely have to. If desired results show up on the first page of Google’s search engine results, you can bet the farm customers aren’t going to continue clicking through page after page when what they’ve searched for is staring them in the face on the first page. In fact, 75% of users don’t even want to think about clicking to the next page. Why bother?
Yes, and here’s how to get on the first page of Google!
Here’s where you, as a business owner, come in. Let me start by saying one thing: if you’re excited that your company shows up on the third page of Google’s search engine results, prepare for me to burst your bubble. You are are not visible to your customers unless you have a first page presence and here’s how it’s done:
- Communication is key! Notify Google right away that you have a company website. Google bots are extremely thorough, never missing a beat when crawling the web for various websites. It can take some time for the bots to pick up on your website and, while waiting around is one way to do things, it’s best to submit your website to Google Search Console pronto. The program is free and breaks down your performance on Google search, emailing you suggestions as to what you can do to enhance your website’s visibility. It’s still important to login regularly in order to make sure all is well. For step-by-step instructions, visit “The Beginner’s Guide to Search Console” in Google Search Central.
- Be strategic in targeting brilliant keywords. There is a great deal I could say about keyword selection, but I’ll try to keep it short. Finding the right keywords is the beginning of your process in ranking your website on Google’s first page of search results, but what is right to one business owner may seem wrong for another. Fortunately, there are some basic principles that apply to everyone:
- Think about words best describing your products or services and think like a customer. For example, what would a customer type in the search engine bar if they were shopping for a reputable lawn service?
- Shoot for phrases with the three to five words your customers are most likely to type into the search bar. If your keyword consists of those matching your website and coincide with what customers are likely to enter, then your website will most likely appear in the search engine results. Stay with me. This is just the beginning!
- Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes. Really get inside their heads and think about the types of questions they will ask on Google. This will help you generate keywords specific to your website, easily located by Google’s search engines. Be sure to do a search in order to learn which phrases are most commonly related to your company.
- Once you decide on your keywords, be sure to weave them generously into your content, communicating to Google that your company website exudes authority and is the place where customers need to go in order to gain the right answers to their questions. This will help boost your website ranking on Google’s first page as you stand out from your competition.
- Research your competitors and find out how they got on the first page and what is keeping them there. You know the olds saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. In this case, keep your customers close and your competition closer by researching your competitors. You might be up against some tough competition with an impressive audience. Don’t be intimidated! Type your desired keyword into the search bar and learn what and who you’re dealing with! This will allow you to adopt a strategy and select keywords best geared to your target audience. Furthermore, try to learn why your competitor ranks higher for the same keywords and whether they are gaining popularity due to paid campaigns or organically. You might even discover that you can target keywords your competitors haven’t yet implemented! In addition, research long-tail keywords that your customers might be using and grab keywords targeted by your competitors. You can strategize about ways to beat your competition at their own game by using them more effectively.
- Make sure you create a page which supports search intent. Let me be clear in saying that web pages and not actual websites rank on Google’s first page. For example, you might rank for “how to spot clean a sofa” and “carpet pet stain removal” as two separate web pages, both landing on separate search engine results pages. It is entirely up to you as to which page you’d like to rank, but the options are limitless. You may choose as many as you’d like as long as you understand that website authority will affect the ranking of each individual page you select. Just be sure that your page content is chalked full of info that Google can rank for your target keyword as your chances are better when your content lines up with the content of search intent. Don’t be tempted to tamper with your web page URL so as not to compromise established quality backlinks. If you absolutely must reconfigure your URL’s, don’t forget to direct the old ones to the new ones!
Develop a content angle, addressing your target audience and be thorough in your content descriptions and discussions as the authority on the subject(s). Stick to subjects directly related to your website and industry.
- Incorporate both internal links and quality backlinks. Backlinks will serve to enhance page authority and higher authority websites mean higher ranking on search engine results pages. You can easily acquire quality backlinks by looking for sites similar to yours. You can email those sites with requests that they link a relevant post to your website. You can even add internal links which are relevant to your industry in order to boost authority. Both backlinks and internal links which point to your business website, communicate with Google that consumers consider you a reputable authority. All the more reason to ensure that your backlinks come from reputable sites in order to boost your rankings. Be sure you aren’t incorporating SPAM!
- Shoot for snippets featured. Short text snippets located above various Google search results offer quick answers to search queries and are even better than having your web page rank on Google’s first page of search engine results. Google selects the featured text, so there is no magic trick for achieving this and it is not automatically generated. The best thing to do is alter your content in order to boost your chances of having featured snippets. You can also implement a bulleted format, create bulleted lists, and incorporate sentences beginning with how, why, where, when, what, and who. Extra points for developing content that immediately answers these questions.
- Take charge of your meta tags and manage them well. The short text appearing in Google search results are called “meta tags” and they are content descriptors which are shorter than featured snippets. Meta tags consist of no more than 120 characters, containing the most crucial info plus a keyword. While they don’t show up on a website, they are made up of clear, concise verbiage specific to each individual web page on your website. Keywords should be incorporated in your meta tags, so be creative!
- Make sure your web page is mobile optimized. Half of global internet traffic takes place on mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads. Users get frustrated when web pages don’t load or they cannot be viewed in full, so it’s paramount that you ensure your website is optimized for all screen types. Customers will avoid your page if the experience is poor.
- Include your location! Customers want to know whether you are locally based or overseas. Increase your chances of getting on the first page of search engine results by incorporating your locale in your keywords. Many consumers want to do business with companies located in specific cities or states, so adding your business to local directories such as Foursquare or Yelp will only gain your higher search engine visibility, boosting your online presence.
Web page visibility entices consumers to click in order to learn who you are and what you’re about. Don’t shy away from tools such as social media and chat forums in order to show consumers what they’re missing. Establish your authority and expertise regarding your products and services and you are sure to turn the right heads as you show consumers they can rely on you for questions regarding your profession. Keep your target audience engaged with consistent, fresh content, leaving them hungry for more. Better yet, consult your local small business SEO Jacksonville Florida expert today!
Ninety-one percent of adults prefer to use search engines in order to quickly glean information and Google has over 90% of the search engine market share. As a result, a solid Google Business profile is a necessary must for your company. The benefits are endless and you can easily edit your company info at any time in order to maintain an updated online presence. Consumers want to know your story and learn about your brand and a solid Google Business Profile is a very simple, effective way of:
- Sharing your story.
- Ensuring your company shows up in Google Maps searches.
- Boosting sales (both online and in-store).
- Building trust with your customers.
- Earning reviews in order to boost your brand’s appeal.
- Increasing website traffic.
- Getting the lowdown on your customers.
- Ranking higher in search engine results.
- Taking advantage of FREE advertising!
In addition, 16% of companies who utilize their Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) can gain as many as 100 additional calls monthly because this is how 64% of consumers use this tool to get info on various businesses.
Creation and optimization of your Google Business Profile is quite simple and I’m going to walk you through five simple steps which will help you navigate this process:
Make sure you create or “claim” your business profile. You need to check to make sure you don’t already have a Google Business Profile. Go to Google Search or Google Maps and search for your company by name and location. You might be surprised to learn that your profile already exists. In this event, you would click “Claim this business” and follow the prompts through a verification process. If you don’t see your company already listed:
- Bookmark google.com/businesses.
- Login with your google account or create one if you don’t already have one.
- Enter your business name/address.
- Select “storefront” or “service provider”.
- Select your primary business category.
- Add your business phone number & company website.
- Follow the prompts through the verification process.
- Follow the prompts to finish the population process.
Regular updates are the key to success! Updating your business profile is even easier! You can incorporate images, videos, product and services information and even post weekly updates!
- From the Business Profile menu, click “Info”.
- Click on the section you wish to edit and begin entering your new info. It can take as many as 60 days before you see old info deleted. Also, summaries or keywords from the internet appearing next to your business, such as the description, cannot be edited.
- Boom! You’ve just updated/edited your Business Profile! Click “done editing”! Who’s the pro now?
It’s important to respond to reviews left by customers as it shows you are paying attention. This helps to establish trust among your consumership while building brand authority and credibility. Don’t be tempted to stick to the positive reviews. Addressing negative comments can be a game changer, showing the public that you take ALL concerns seriously and you are both respectful and considerate of all consumers.
Use your Google Business Profile as an opportunity to answer questions. Google relies on a lot of user-sourced info, so it’s important to ensure that questions are answered correctly and in a timely fashion.
- Log in to your Google Business Account.
- Click on “See all questions (#)” under the “Questions & Answers” section on the right-hand sidebar.
- Click on the “Answer” button.
In addition, answering messages through your Google Business Profile is equally as simple and powerfully effective in communicating with your customers. Simply select “turn on messaging” under “complete your business profile” voila! You’re a genius!
Remember: the goal with any business is to stand out and apart from the competition. A well managed Google Business Profile will help you do just that!
Reviews are crucial to the success of your business as 93% of customers base their purchasing decisions on consumer reviews. If your overall review rating falls below 3.3 stars, consumers won’t engage with your business.
Your responses to your company’s reviews play an equally important role in consumer engagement, influencing purchasing decisions. When you fail to respond, you send a message that you do not care about your customers.
Building a strong local SEO presence in Florida comes down to three key aspects. First, you must optimize your Google My Business page with verified information, Google Posts, and reviews from your customers. Once your Google My Business page is optimized, you should then move your focus onto your website. Optimizing your website for local SEO comes down to your internal linking structure, meta-content, location pages, local content, and how mobile-friendly your site is. The last step to dominating local SEO involves building your external links from directories and other authority sites within your industry.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Page
Optimizing a Google My Business page gives you the benefit of showcasing your business information right on the Google search results page when potential customers are searching. Optimizing this page involves ensuring all information is verified, posting to your GMB(Google My Business) page, as well as receiving and responding to customer reviews.
The first step to setting up your Google My Business page involves making sure Google has accurate information and getting that information verified through Google. This process is streamlined with a simple registration process. Once all information is filled out and accurate, Google will ask if you’d like to verify this information. Verifying your information is the key to getting your page to appear in search results. They typically send a postcard to your business address with a pin number to verify your mailing address. Sometimes there is an option to verify with an automated phone call. If you already have a GMB you can sign in by visiting https://www.google.com/business
Now that you have a verified Google My Business page, you can start posting to that page. This involves creating short articles related to your business and posting them through your Google My Business. These posts are a great opportunity to build customer trust by showing you truly know what you’re talking about. You can also tailor these posts to your local area to improve your local search engine results.
You’ll also want to try and build a steady flow of reviews from your customers. There are systems available to help you get your customers to submit reviews. Our local reputation management platform is one of those systems. Once you start generating reviews, you’ll want to respond to those reviews. Responding helps you demonstrate to Google that you are an active and engaged business. It is also recommended you set up Google My Business notifications as well.
Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO
Now that your Google My Business page is all set up and verified, the next step is optimizing your website. This comes down to optimizing your home page, Meta Data, setting up your internal linking structure, building out content, and adding a location-specific page.
Your home page should clearly state who you are, what you do and where your business is located as well as the areas you serve. Internally your website’s page title, header tag and meta description should echo this.
While the ranking of Meta Data factors is debated, it is a fact that they play a big part in a visitor’s first impression of your website.
Now setting up your internal linking structure helps your users to easily navigate your website and for Google to index your website accurately. Typically this involves setting up an XML site map. There are plenty of tools to create this. There should also be a link to an HTML version in the footer of your website.
Next you’ll want to build out content and optimize that content for local SEO. This involves setting up meta descriptions, accurate URL tags, well thought- out headers, and image alt-descriptions. Setting up these internal content structures as well makes for a great way to include all of your local keywords in your content without overloading your site with keywords and making it awkward to read. Doing the basics right is an easy way to beat your competitors in search results.
Adding location-specific pages makes it easy for Google to determine what areas or locations your website is most relevant to. These pages can be incorporated into the “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages which are found on most sites. This involves a simple extension into Google Maps that can be applied through a wide number of plugins. This will also link your website to your Google My Business page.
Finally, you’ll want to start writing blog posts applicable to your local area and the services you offer. While it may seem counterintuitive, offering information about how your customers can do the work themselves is a great way to build consumer trust and drive traffic to your site. You’ll find most people end up contacting you for work once they realize the skill required to actually do the work.
Building External Links
Now that you have an optimized Google My Business page and a great website that is ready for traffic, you’ll want to find other websites and directories in your industry that can provide links to your site. The number of links directed to your site makes a huge impact on your ranking in search engines. This can be accomplished through local directories like your local chamber of commerce, large business directories, and other authority sites in your industry.
A great way to build links from high authority sites in your industry can involve offering to write a piece of content for them in exchange for a link. This will help you build your audience by allowing their visitors to see your knowledge within the industry and possibly visit your website. By having links from other authority sites it shows Google that your site provides value to your customers as well as the other websites. Most high authority sites have an email address you can contact, so start emailing these sites today with an offer of writing content in exchange for a link!
While each of these areas may seem like a lot of work, they do work and make for a great investment of your time. Local SEO is a great lead generator for any industry. If you work at it and your website ranks well it becomes an extremely inexpensive channel that generates a recurring stream of customers. Organically generated customers typically have a higher confidence level. And tend to have a higher conversion rate. It is worth considering allocating budget for local SEO, as part of your ongoing marketing efforts.
Google and Amazon have been going back and forth in a feud that has lasted for years. Starting back on October 29th, 2015, Amazon discontinued any sales of Apple TV and Google Chromecast. Amazon at the time stated:
Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and Fire TV are excellent choices
Those 4 devices were the only devices at the time that supported Prime Video, Amazon’s premium streaming service. After Amazon added Prime Video to the Apple TV App Store, Amazon allowed the device back into it’s marketplace. Amazon never developed support for the Google Chomecast however, and without Prime Video support the device isn’t allowed on Amazon Marketplace, leaving Google in a powerless situation. Jump to September 26th 2017, only 4 months after the Amazon Echo Show was released and Google without notice revoked YouTube Access for the Amazon Echo Show. Amazon issued this statement at the time:
Google made a change today at around 3 pm. YouTube used to be available to our shared customers on Echo Show. As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.
This statement however heavily conflicts with the one Google made on the same day
We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms. Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon.
Leaving users confused over if Amazon and Google were actually in communication or not. Very soon after this incident Amazon pulled Google’s lineup of Nest products (Nest E Thermostat, Nest’s Camera IQ, and the Nest Secure Alarm System) all of which have now returned to the marketplace as of this writing. A few months later Amazon managed to get YouTube back onto the Echo Show simply by directing users to it’s full desktop website. This was not an elegant or user friendly solution as you can see from this video:
THIS IS INSANITY pic.twitter.com/dYbi5w7pdD
— dan seifert (@dcseifert) November 21, 2017
Two weeks after this work around YouTube announced that they would be revoking all support for YouTube on both the Echo Show and Amazon’s Fire TV with the following message:
“We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other’s products and services. But Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.
YouTube was pulled from the Amazon Echo Show on December 5th, 2017 and posted a warning to all Amazon Fire TV customers that support for YouTube would end on January 1st, 2018.
So Google’s feud with Amazon just reached my living room. Got this screen when I launched YouTube on my Amazon Fire TV. pic.twitter.com/vtmcuBTtE9
— Cornell Ngare (@cngare_) December 5, 2017
One week after this Amazon and Google started serious discussions to settle this long going feud. Amazon agreed to resume sale of the Google Chromecast and on December 14th, 2017 the device was added back to it’s marketplace, however when the device was added it was listed as “Currently unavailable” and the item hasn’t been available for purchase since. Google’s lineups of smart devices are not available for purchase on the marketplace either.
January 1st, 2018 Google did as promised and blocked access to YouTube from the Fire TV. Fire TV had a workaround of using a web browser such as Silk or Firefox for Fire TV to access a TV-optimized YouTube. on January 22nd, 2018 Google removed support for this as well, forcing users to load the desktop version of YouTube instead. That same day YouTube’s TV interface came back to the devices without comment as to why it was removed or put back.
As of today nothing has changed, the Google Chromecast and Google Home devices are still not available for purchase on the amazon store and Google still has not allowed Amazon’s Fire TV or Amazon Echo Show to load a YouTube App, only the website.
For those of us that already have a verified business in Google My Business, we have some interesting news. You can now update your business info directly from the Google search engine result page. Please remember that need you to make sure you’re logged in to your Google My Business account.
Let’s try editing your Google My Business Page right from the search page
Let’s dive right in and see how it works. To get started, just type the name of your business in the Google search box and you will see a menu right above the search results. Again, you need to be logged in to your Google My Business account. After you click the edit info button, you will see all the fields you are able to edit become highlighted.
From here, you will be able to upload photos, see the number of views, check and respond to any customers reviews, and even access detailed info about your site metrics. The best part is, you can do it from any device, in your office on your desktop or right from your mobile device.
Google heavily relies on the business owners to provide accurate and updated information to their users. Google realized early on that if they want valuable content for free, they have to make the process simple and easy.
Now lets take a quick look at Why Google would do this?
For starters, who is best suited to provide the most accurate information about a business? The business owner, of course. Google decided to create a process to outsource the business info-update process, and now this process has just become a little more efficient. The good news is, this is a win not only Google but it is also a win for clients of local business because they get info directly from the business owners. The business owners win by getting to provide info directly to potential clients. Google wins by having the most up to date, timely and accurate local business info. A win-win-win situation for everyone!
If you are a business owner and you have not setup your Google My Business page, please contact us and we will send you a free guide.
SSL Certificates, what are we even talking about? SSLs is the backbone of Internet security by protecting information as it travels the web. Often website owners balk at purchasing SSLs if their webpage isn’t set up for online shopping/money exchange. That is a mistake. SSL’s provide critical items like privacy, data integrity, and protection for your website and visitors to your page. SSLs digitally bind cryptographic keys to a website’s details. When Marlin installs an SSL on your server, it activates the padlock you see in your address bar and “https”. This creates secure connections between server and browser, protecting everyone.
Why do you need an SSL, especially if you are not running an e-commerce site? Data security between servers is increased. Your Google Ranking automatically increases when you provide your users with SSL protection. Trust is built and enhanced with your customer base when they know you’re doing your part to protect them. Should you have a form that visitors must fill out – whether it’s for an inquiry or something else to gathers information from the user, this type of data collection would prompt for the verification of your SSL. If you do not currently have an SSL on your website, then the user will be see the “unsecured content” message on their screen before they could proceed to the next page.
If a customer can trust that your site is safe and protected, then you will see your conversion rates increase!
Now you’re ready to jump into the SSL game, what next? SSL certificates must be issued from a trusted Certificate Authority. Marlin can help you through this entire process and can provide a list of trusted CA root certificates. Give Marlin a call and our experts will get you and your website ready to go!
Take a look at the different SSL certificates that we offer.
Have You Noticed A Change In Your Rankings? Google’s Shaking Things Up With Its New Local Search Filters
Google’s primary goal is to provide its users with the best possible search experience and they are leaving no stone unturned to ensure just that. In early 2017, Google introduced local search filters that allow users to sort results based on price, ratings and hours of operation. Taking it one step further, they are now automatically applying those filters and it benefits the user for obvious reasons. They get the best possible search as well as most relevant results on the fly without applying any filters.
It has turned out to be a big blow to some business owners who have failed or have not focused on maintaining a good online reputation. A businesses Local SEO strategy has to be adjusted to take this in to account. When Google automatically filters local businesses for those with 4-star ratings and higher, it places a lot of businesses at risk of losing online visibility. It’s quite common for users to search using terms like “Best Plumber”, “Best Thai Restaurant” and “Best Roofing Contractor” when they are looking for a local business. For those businesses that do not have more than a 4 star rating, they will find it extremely difficult to keep a measurable presence on local search.
In chaos we can sometime find opportunity and the golden opportunity in this case is for the less popular businesses. By inviting reviews & keeping their information consistent and updated, one can share the spot light with those who are already at the top.
The New Filters
The best of everything: Users can now filter the results automatically, by just adding “best” to the keyword. If you search “best plumber”, Google will show only 4-Star+ rated plumbers. This filter will drastically influence the way businesses are ranked. Check out how the following results differ.
Open now: For example a closed Truck Repair store is of no use to a user who wants to get his truck repaired ASAP. So when a user types “truck repair store open now”, Google will show only those businesses that are open. Check out below.
Enjoy Fine dining: Want to go to an upscale restaurant for your first date? Just type “fancy restaurant” & Google will show you the most expensive restaurants nearby. Or if you just want to fill your tummy without burning a hole in your pocket, type “cheap restaurants” or “budget restaurants” and you will get the list.
I am sure you see the bigger picture here, Google is and has been heading towards providing a more advanced search experience where users get results based on their actual intent. Local searches have grown to 46% of all searches on Google and will continue to rise. So, Google is doing everything it can to enhance the local search experience for its users.
Marlin’s take on this
Businesses that fail to manage their reputation and update their listings with the most accurate, detailed and consistent information now run the risk of not ranking in searches when they would have in the past.
To help you get more reviews for your business our Local SEO Plans includes our review widget. It’s a small piece of code which is placed on your website and helps you get positive reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook. In addition, it helps to filter out negative reviews too thus ensuring a positive experience for your website users. Would you like to learn more? Please connect with us.
In the second half of 2016 a lot of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) industry knew there
was something big coming down the pipe.
As expected, here comes Google making a rather significant change to their search algorithm in
early March of 2017. Code-named “Fred”, the impact is now changing the way many in the
digital marketing community are approaching their search engine optimization practices as well
how they develop in general. Let’s take a minute and get to know “Fred” and all his current
likes and dislikes.
We know that Google makes hundreds of updates every year to its core algorithm, but Fred
seems to have made an impact on an unexpected number of websites, which has left some in
the digital marketing world scratching their collective head. Most of the major updates are
significantly affecting traffic, focusing on either links or content. If there is an organic traffic
drop it usually means that the site is in violation of the Webmaster’s guidelines on quality.
While we are always excited about Google bringing critical new changes to the web, the
challenge in this instance is there is no way to know for sure what the exact focus of Fred may
have been. In collaborating with other SEO professionals, our results seem to primarily point to
content related sites. Combing through the negatively affected sites, they all seem to have two
things in common. The content appeared “shallow” and the site prioritized advertising over
user experience. This is all obviously speculation at this point, BUT one might argue curbing ad-
focused sites is a positive change for the community.
How much havoc did Fred wreak?
Some SEOs and webmasters have reported organic traffic reductions of 50 to 90 percent. I am
sure you imagine that sort of traffic drop would be considered serious by any measure. While
the fall out hit a narrow segment of websites, it was still significant in the search engine optimization industry.
This of course all begs the question now what? How do we proceed? If your website fell in the
category of sites effected there are a couple things you can do:
Step 1: Don’t panic.
Step 2: Evaluate
If the website in question was very dependent on ad revenue, chances are there were too many
ad units and pop ups on the site. In this case, scaling back the ad units and then evaluating
other revenue streams is the way to go. If shallow content was to blame then the key will be
identifying those pages and updating your content with relevant, attention grabbing copy.
While in theory this is all relatively straight forward, the tactical part of Fred is far more
complex. Making these changes on a strategic level will become ever more important as we
continue to move forward in the future. If you would like to learn more about our search engine optimization services we would be happy to speak to you.