Why does our company appear on page two of Google search results?
— Bake Shop Owner
Our customers told us they couldn’t find us on Google Maps!
— Restaurant Owner

We hear complaints like these from business owners all the time. There are lots of ways to improve your visibility online without paying. We're talking about improving your SEO (search engine optimization) which is the process of getting website visits through search engine listings like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. The goal is the optimize your brand online so you work your way up the list. Aim for the top.


Here are 5 simple steps you can take to help improve your online visibility:


1.  Don't just have a Google+ page, USE IT. 

Google+ is owned by Google (obviously). So we can all assume that Google recognizes the content posted on Google+ when producing search results. You'll notice this as you're perusing the web. Often results from Google+ fall even higher than your website or other social media pages. Don't just post content on Facebook and Twitter, be sure to regularly post content on your company Google+ page and use your hashtags (see #2 below)! 


2.  Use Hashtags, but don't overdo it. 

Hashtags are an important way to classify and categorize the content you post on social networks. They make it easier for people to search for your posts by the designated hashtag terms. To use them, you simply add a pound sign before the term. For example, typing #marketing into the Facebook search bar will bring you results that have used the #marketing hashtag.

Still not understanding? Think about what you last Googled. Maybe it was, "best Los Angeles date spot." Or maybe it was "best ice cream spot because my ex-boyfriend sucks." Whatever the search query, you definitely received a list of results. How does Google know which results to give you? There are many technical ways they decide, but one way that is useful to you is the hashtag. I'll bet that within your results was a piece of content that contained a hashtag similar to what you searched. For example, maybe someone tweeted that same day, "My wife and I loved our dinner at Gusto #LAdatespot." Since this person used a hashtag that was similar to what you typed into Google, it's likely this tweet will be one of your results.

*TIP: Don't use too many hashtags at once. This will distract people from what you're actually trying to say. 2 to 4 is an ideal amount. 

Keyword Examples for a Web Design Firm

Keyword Examples for a Web Design Firm

3.  Figure out your keywords, then use them. 

Think about this question...what are your customers typing in Google to find you? Maybe it's, "Best Italian Restaurant in DC" or "How to learn German?" Make a list of these terms and use them online as much as possible. Work them into your website copy. Use them in your social media posts. Add a couple into your business description on LinkedIn. The more the better! Using these terms will help convince Google that your business is an important result when someone types in that specific term or phrase.  

*HINT: If you use Google Analytics, look under 'Acquisition.' Here you will find a section labeled 'Keywords.' Find out which Organic Keywords people have been using to find your website. Be sure to add these to your keyword list. 


4.  Start a company blog.

Blog Example: Southwest Airlines

Blog Example: Southwest Airlines

Running a blog seems like a lot of work, but with today's easy-to-use blogging platforms (like Tumblr, Wordpress and Square space) it's easier than ever. Remember above when I talked about using your company's keywords within your online content? A blog is one of the easiest places to do this. The more you use your keywords, the more optimized your content will be and the higher you will come up in search results. We've also found that blogging is a great way to display your brand personality and values, which often attracts customers. So get to it! Be confident in your expertise and share with the world.

Here's a great article to walk you through starting your own blog


5.  Make your social pages easy to find. 

Example of well-placed social media icons

Example of well-placed social media icons

Whether it's in the footer or header of your website, be sure to clearly display your social media links. These should also be included in your blog, all the emails you send, and don't forget to link between pages. For example, let your Facebook followers know your on Twitter and vice versa. 

AuthorNicole Reisberg