Have you noticed how the real estate given over to organic search results in the Google SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) seems to be shrinking?
The image above is a screenshot taken from my Mac, you’ll notice that all of the space above the fold is given over to Advertising, Reviews and Google My Business information.
Okay, the hotel industry might be an extreme example and you may not be experiencing this (yet) in your current market sector but you can see where it’s headed as Google (and Bing) increase the size of search Ads and experiment with image and video Ads within the search results pages.
Obviously this makes it much more difficult for your business to achieve organic listings on page one of Google but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Here are 6 steps you can take to boost your rankings or help get your business noticed online.
Step 1: Optimise your website for search.
There is no doubt that search engine optimisation (SEO) is in a state of flux as Google move us away from being fixated on key phrases and drive us towards providing good quality, relevant content that engages our audience. However it’s still important to make sure you check your web pages to ensure you have implemented:
- Search friendly URLs
- Relevant page titles
- Content that’s built around a primary key phrase
- Inviting meta descriptions
- Page headers
- Images Alt Tags and relevant file names
- The appropriate schema for your market sector/business
It’s a busy world out there and any way you can promote a positive signal to the search engines has got to be taken.
Step 2: Create a Google My Business account
Google My Business, formerly Google Places, is a free listing and is linked to Google Maps and Google+.
It allows you to add a lot more information about your company, including photos and video, which also helps you take up more on-screen space in the SERPS results.
Every local business should set up a Google My Business account and register their business. While you’re at it, ask your customers/clients to supply you with a Google+ review, it shows up in search and is another positive social signal for your audience.
Step 3: Implement a content marketing strategy.
Content marketing can have a positive impact on SEO and can improve your chances of ranking in the search engines results pages.
But it’s not a short-term fix. You need to take the medium to long-term view and plan your content marketing activities over the next 6 to 12 month period, as it will take time before you see positive results. Content marketing is a strategic initiative and should be viewed as an investment.
Content marketing can help your business achieve many things, for example:
- Increase brand awareness
- Demonstrate your expertise
- Generate leads
- Retain customers
- Gain credibility with your audience
- And much more…
*Read my FREE ebook 16 reasons to invest in Content Marketing
There is no shortage of content out there but you need to focus on quality over quantity to ensure you engage your audience but if you’re operating in a competitive environment it still may be difficult to get that first page result on Google.
Step 4: Get busy on social media.
You can’t afford to just sit back and wait for things to happen, content needs to be promoted to amplify its affect and increase engagement. You can distribute your content across social media platforms, where your audience is active and this can help but more and more social media platforms are reducing the impact that “freely” distributed content has, as they try to monetise the platforms and steer us toward a paid solution.
Social media and content marketing are closely aligned and social signals can also affect ranking so the more your content get shared, liked, +1’d, RT’d, downloaded etc. the happier you’ll become.
Step 5: Run a PPC advertising pilot programme.
I hate to be the one to tell you this but online advertising is not just here to stay, it’s going to get bigger and become even more important to your marketing success.
If you want quick results or want to give your content a boost to rise above the competition you may need to consider Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. By adding PPC into the marketing mix you’re adding another opportunity to promote your business and your content and increasing the chances of searchers finding the solutions you offer and clicking through to your website.
There may be some who disagree, I hear it often “I never click on Ads”, “Tried it once, didn’t work and cost me a fortune”. Remember you are not the audience, Google made around $40billion in advertising last year, if it didn’t work advertisers wouldn’t use the platform. And when I take a look at the accounts that haven’t been performing, in almost every case they’ve been set up or managed badly.
Online advertising on Google, Bing or social media platforms can be very targeted and offers a number of options:
PPC advertising: The Ads that appear at the top and sides of the search results pages or on social media pages. You only pay when someone clicks on the Ad.
Display advertising: The (mainly) image or animated Ads you see on other websites that allow advertising e.g. YouTube. Mainly paid for through the number of times the Ad is seen (cost per impression).
Remarketing: The (mainly) image based Ads that follow you across the internet after you’ve visited a particular site e.g. John Lewis.
YouTube: Is the world’s second largest search engine and is owned by Google, so it makes sense to be found here. Videos are more likely to show up on searches, so they should be an integral part of your content plan.
At the very least you should consider taking out an AdWords campaign targeting your own brand in order to safeguard the top level Ad spot on the SERPS and prevent your competition from grabbing it.
It’s easy to set up a PPC campaign but it’s more difficult to successfully manage it. That’s why you should use a Google AdWords Qualified Individual, someone who sits a number of Google AdWord exams every 12 to 18 months, keeps up to date with the changes that Google introduce on an almost weekly basis and maintains their clients account to a standard that Google (monitor) and are happy with.
Step 6: Don’t run these activities in isolation.
In a crowded world every business has to ensure they extract the maximum performance from their limited marketing budgets. Pulling an audience, who are actively searching for a solution you provide, towards your offer through a mix of content marketing, social media and PPC advertising is a much stronger proposition than the traditional numbers game offered by an outbound marketing approach.
If you’re looking to improve the chances of your business getting found online, perhaps it’s time to re-allocate some of your marketing budget.
If you want a better understanding of the digital landscape, sign up for my FREE Digital Marketing Journey programme