Small businesses never had it easier before than they do now, at least in terms of exposure. Imagine: in just a few clicks on a smartphone, a business is literally seconds away from getting discovered by a new customer. And the best part is you don’t even have to spend that much in getting ads to market your business.
One caveat, though: everyone else–from home-based businesses to the largest corporations in the country–is likely doing the same now. The barrier to entry might have been lower, but making your business stand out also got harder.
Thankfully, several platforms where businesses rely on getting discovered, like Google, have instituted measures ensuring fairer competition between businesses. Google My Business, for instance, is just one of the services they made available for free where, by simply identifying as a local business, your listing can be given priority among the other “bigger” names in your niche.
GMB is good and all, but do you know there’s also another method assuring that your business will always get discovered online, no matter which area of the world you’re getting searched from? It also happens to be one of the oldest tools in the internet, too, and it’s probably one you’ve heard before: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
We’ve discussed how SEO evolved from a winner-take-all industry to, thankfully, one that primarily considers the needs of its users here. So, while people have since migrated to other platforms (particularly social media), there’s just no replacing googling something because… well, it’s just easy! It seems to know what you’re looking for, and it even gives you related queries that can further meet your need for more information. You just can’t beat that.
With that said, how can you make SEO work for you? Well, we’re here to prove that it’s not just possible, but also exceedingly simple: you just have to keep everything local! Here’s how you can do it:
Restaurants in Iloilo
If you’re reading this article either on a smartphone or on your laptop, then chances are you’ve probably done a lot of searching on the web before like, say, when looking for a good restaurant near your area. You might have done some searching on Facebook or Twitter, but really, it’s not as mapped out like this below:
Above is a screenshot of the top three search results we did for “restaurants in Iloilo”. But what if you’re looking for more choices? Well, let’s click on the “More Places” option below the top three listings, shall we?
As you can see above, not only has the listing expanded to include more restaurants, but so did the map, which has even opened up to show you where exactly those restaurants are located.
The reliable thing about this is this isn’t just Google suggesting you places; it also displays other info that can be possibly useful for making your choice, like what kinds of restaurants they are, what kind of environment or experience you can get from them, what their operating hours are, and–if such a thing still matters to you–the reviews that have been given to them by users so far.
The above examples, however, show how businesses appear when they’re using Google My Business (which we recommend that you also read in conjunction with this piece here).
But what happens if you’re running a website? Well, it’s even better since you can actually target for the niche keywords that your business is in! And, to reiterate what we’ve said earlier in this article, it’s not as hard as you think it to be…
Keyword research is… well, exactly what it sounds like: researching for a set of terms that you expect users will likely find your business in. How does it exactly work?
It’s quite simple, really: let’s say you’re running a restaurant serving Italian cuisine, then the likely search term said users would put in the search bar is “Italian restaurant”. The cool thing about this is how user-intuitive the entire thing is. As long as you have a grasp on how your customers perceive you online, then that’s as good as a first step in optimizing your small business for the internet.
The possibilities for combining the right keywords for your business are literally endless, and we understand how it can be daunting for newbie keyword researchers like yourself. However, there’s one tool that Google has for this purpose. And if you must ask us, yes, it’s also free!
We’re talking about the Google Keyword Planner. Technically, this is a tool that’s under the Google Ads page, so don’t worry if you have to go through the latter first. By going to the “Tools” section of the menu, you can click on “Keyword Planner” to be redirected to this page below:
Since we’re (theoretically, at least) searching for “restaurants in Iloilo”, go to the “Discover New Keywords” section and encode a keyword. What happens when we press “Get Started” on it? Well, here’s how it looks below:
As you can see above, searching for the keyword gives you an idea of the average monthly searches, the amount of pages using said keyword (in the form of the “Competition” column) and the Ad Impression Share and the possible Bids the keyword will be earning if ever you decide to run an ad on Google.
The tool even makes the process easier by giving you a list of suggested and related keywords that usually pop up in your targeted niche. In case the searches for your keyword are low, then you can browse the list below and discover if there’s anything else that looks better!
The decision to implement the keywords on your page are, of course, entirely up to you. If you already have a well-defined niche, then it makes sense to target for a keyword, even if the monthly searches are low; after all, the market you’re serving should be the priority for your keyword research.
One final SEO checklist before we go
Hopefully, you now have an idea of how to ideally position your small business in Google. If you really want to make sure that your website or pages show up consistently on all platforms, let’s do some simple, yet proper, SEO work for your business. Here are a few tips you can implement yourself:
While your website name and URL can simply be the name of your business, the title and description should be pretty specific about the type of business you’re running. Do observe the presence of character limits, too; around 60 characters for titles, while a 120-character description will do.
Ever tried getting in touch with a business online and seeing that they’re displaying different contact information between their pages? Confusion, as you’re well aware by now, is bad for business. So, no matter if your business is listed on Google or on social media, make sure that your NAP is consistent all across the board.
Seriously, we really need to stress it because it’s just something you can’t ignore as long as we’re talking about “search”. This is important. Period, full stop.
So, we hope you will apply these and eventually improve your search engine ranking.