Tips To Getting Found on Google

How can you, a small business owner, get found by Google?

Fact: People search for the products and services they want, often through a Google search, and Google makes recommendations, and, over 75% of users will not go past the first page to find what they're looking for.

Fact: The practice of being found by Google, on top of the home page is called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

Fact: SEO is an incredibly complex and highly technical task.

That's why I'm writing this guide: to simplify SEO and give you a checklist of general

things you can do to improve your SEO.

First, Understanding the Basics of Google Searches

You have to understand where Google is coming from, to understand why we're here and what we're doing. Google has over 93% marketshare of searches, which is a lot. Google is a data machine, and with so much data available to them they are constantly refining their searches to be able to more accurately deliver what people are looking for.

It's also important to note Google uses a cutting edge algorithm (a mathematical formula) that helps determine who sees what based on a number of factors related to the search. We know there are somewhere around 247 factors that go into this formula, but Google tends to only release hints of some, not all. They also change their algorithm frequently, making it a moving target. But, despite all these SEO changes, core principles remain.

At the heart of a Google search is a human and their desire, and that's what Google prioritizes. While some of the below suggestions are up to date with newer changes, you'll notice most (if not all) are human centric.

What Are Some Simple SEO Tips for Business Owners?

1) Decide on what words you want to be found for. Think about why customers buy from you, what entices clients to choose you. Words may include symptoms, problems, titles, locations and solutions.

2) Link your pages together. An example of this is my sitemap page, which every website should have. But there should also be links on your pages that connect to each other: for example, as a service provider I often encourage people to visit this page to book a meeting with me. Making that a link is good for SEO.

3) Put your key words throughout your pages, naturally. Point #1 should apply to each of your pages, but in a way that makes sense. The Google algorithm has gotten smarter at detecting what it calls "keyword stuffing", or putting in many key words for the sake of being found for them. 

4) Add your contact information. Phone number and email addresses on your website help SEO.

5) Update your website on a scheduled, regular basis. Google likes to see that your website reflects the life of your business and changes with it. This can be as simple as a bit of text or updating pictures. But the best way to ensure consistent changes that also boost SEO:

6) Blog. Blogs are a great way to put in keywords you want to be found for, and updating your website in a number of ways that are Google friendly.

7) Give it time. Time on the internet is a key factor that helps improve SEO.

8) Name your images. Each time you put an image on your website, you can tell Google what it is (since Google can't read an image, only text and numbers). Make sure your names for images are SEO friendly.

9) Engage on social media. Sometimes your social media will rank higher than you (remember, these platforms are GIGANTIC and active and everything Google loves). Engagement on social media is shown to positively impact SEO. (If you're struggling with social media, we should talk).

What Are Some of the More Technical Things Any Entrepreneur Can Do to be Found by Google?

For those who *may* be a little more technically inclined or are willing to put in the work, here's some suggestions:

1) Create search friendly URLs. A URL that someone could easily type themselves is going to make Google happier than a URL that includes many numbers, letters, special characters and doesn't make sense.

2) Use a third party tool for monitoring, reports and suggestions. I recommend Google ConsoleGoogle AdwordsSEMRush and Moz.

3) Update the header tags and metadata. Header tags are appropriately labelled headers, like a headline or title in an article, that tell users what they're seeing or reading next. Meta data and meta tags tell Google and users what a page is about.

4) Get backlinks. Backlinks are links from other websites that direct to your website. Google uses this as a clue that you are connected, legitimate and doing good business. Seek these out as often as possible.

5) Be mobile friendly. Google punishes websites that don't look perfect on mobile, because they know more and more users access the internet via mobile devices. Make sure your site is optimized and looks great on phones and tablets.

An Important Note on SEO:

This article is neither technical nor exhaustive, and focuses primarily on on page SEO. Any SEO expert who actually provides SEO services will have many more suggestions and ideas. This guide is merely for illustrative purposes for the everyday entrepreneur.