Tips to Make your Business Visible Online
Is your business invisible online? You may be surprised to find out that for many of you reading today the answer could be yes. Or, you may find that it can be found online, but with incorrect information. When most of us look for information, people or businesses online, we go to search engines. And, in the U.S., about 86% of us are using Google to do it. Also, consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on information they find online, this can be a tremendous problem for the more than one million small business web sites that don’t have the basic infrastructure to show up well on search engines.
Search engines look at a variety of factors when determining how well you should be returned in results. You may be surprised to know that only about 30% of those factors are on your web site itself. The rest is how consistently and widely your listing is featured on the more than 125 online search engines and business directories that search engines use to rank businesses. These sites, which function much like online yellow pages, in some cases are rarely used by consumers, but make a tremendous difference in how you are ranked. So how do you find out how you are doing? And, more importantly, how do you fix problems if you find them?
What to look for on your own site
The basic web page elements listed below help search engines understand your intended meaning and determine how you will show up in results. Surprisingly, the vast majority of small business web sites do not have these basic elements. To make sure that your page does visit it online, then choose VIEW > PAGE SOURCE in your browser menu, or discuss it with your web developer. Elements that matter the most:
– Title tags: The title at the top of the browser page, should be keyword rich and different for each page of your web site, and Google more heavily weights the first 85 characters
– Meta description: This is a short description of what your business does, and this tag influences the likelihood that a person will actually click on the search engine results to visit your site
– Meta keywords: These are the keywords and phrases that you believe your site should show up in results for, and should be a brief and concise list of the most important themes of your page and business
– H1 and other related tags: Search engines read your page like you would read a newspaper, and assume that text in a headline is the most important on a page. By using H1 and related tags to create these headings
– Links – inbound and outbound: Links going out to other web sites and coming in from other web sites indicate the size and relevance of your business to Google. Many more going out than coming in is not a good thing, links to you from larger sites such as a media company or chamber of commerce site can be of tremendous value so add your listings in as much as possible to other sites
– Robots.txt, sitemap.xml, urllist.txt: these files allow and encourage search engine robots to scan and rank your site, ensure that all are present on your site
– Content: The content on your site is one of the most important determining factors; does it answer the question the consumer typed in to their search query? More on writing content on your site and your social media channels to build brand awareness and increase your search engine performance in next month’s issue
How is my business showing up on search engines?
Here are three ways to test how your site is performing on search engines:
– Getlisted.org: this site will show areas where your listing appears and help you get ideas of what needs fixing
– FreeSEOScorecard.com: this site will show areas where your web site may need work
– For a more comprehensive report showing exactly what needs to be fixed and where your site ranks, email firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this column, we’ll send you one for free!
Take control of your listings
Be sure consumers that search for you can find you online, and also find your physical location. Once you have a report showing which search engines and directories your site is listed and not listed in, it’s important to go to each one to make sure your business listing, contact information, and web site are found, accurate, and consistent. The most critical one is your listing on Google itself which needs to be claimed and optimized.
If you aren’t sure how to accomplish this, we can help point you in the right direction. Dream Local Digital has experience working with small businesses to bring longstanding brand messages and reputations for excellent customer service into the digital arena.