This is a pretty common question for small business owners in Connecticut and all across the United States. There isn’t a single easy answer, but we’re going to explore one of them here. The short version of what you will read below is the having useful, high-quality, trustworthy content will go a long way to helping you get closer to the top of Google’s search results. There are several other variables, but this is one that you have direct control over.
The Google platform dominates the world of online search across all devices – desktops, mobiles, laptops, and tablets – and if your business isn’t figuring prominently on it, many of your prospective customers will probably never know about the goods or services you offer.
Each Google page shows only a handful of search results, including paid ads. Generally, it’s 10 results per page. The aim of businesses who understand digital marketing is to claim a spot on the first page users see when looking for a company like theirs – and the higher, the better.
People searching online for products or services are unlikely to go any deeper than this first page. Research indicates that sites on the first page of Google search engine results pages (SERPS) get nearly 95 percent of web traffic – and the average user won’t go farther than the first five listings.
There are several reasons why your business may not be gaining high visibility on Google. We’ll be looking at each of these problems and how you can fix them. First, though, we’ll examine briefly how Google works – armed with this insight, you should be better placed to improve your site’s ranking.
It can be highly frustrating when you Google your own business only to find you’ve been consigned to obscurity, especially if your competitors are basking in the glory of a page one listing.
Your business rivals – or more likely their digital marketing agencies – understand that Google’s focus is on giving its users a good experience, not providing free advertising for businesses.
To this end, Google will prioritize sites that respond with the most relevance to whatever someone types into the Google search bar. It uses a complex constantly-changing algorithm based on many different signals with hundreds of factors at play.
Many aspects of this algorithm are shrouded in mystery, but Google has come up with a nice little acronym to explain what it’s looking for in a website – EAT:
This means your site needs to reflect your business’s professionalism, reputation, and dependability. So, keeping EAT in mind, let’s look at factors that commonly impact negatively on a business’s Google ranking.
Lack of Quality Content
Content is the most crucial aspect of your business website, and it allows you to demonstrate your expertise in a way that engages with potential customers.
Google says low-quality content fails to deliver on what it sets out to achieve – insufficient main content to satisfy the reader or pages that show a lack of expertise in the subject.
Delivering quality content entails knowing what your audience wants and how best to provide them with that information.
This requires keyword research to determine what your audience is searching for and understanding the search intent underlying these search terms. You can use free online tools like LSIGraph to help with this. This research can also provide ideas for search engine optimization (SEO).
Quality content is also unique, so don’t be tempted to cut and paste from other sources. There does seem to be a correlation between content length – the number of words on a specific page of your website – and how it ranks. That being said, writing generic, repetitive content isn’t going to cut it. As hard as it is to believe, Google is reading the content on your page, if it’s not detailed or is similar to something it has found elsewhere on the Internet, that’s not helpful. Is there something different about what you are writing about? A case study, data that you analyzed from public sources or from your clients? A table or chart offering insights or perhaps a niche topic that you can write about at length? Ideally, a page on your website describing a product or service should have somewhere north of 500 words, ideally over 750 and up for more detailed topics.
Lack of Links
Links from relevant authoritative websites are a huge factor in how Google ranks sites. Getting your website cited by highly-regarded sources tells Google your site is credible, and these backlinks are like a vote of confidence – crucial in building your site’s authority.
Strategies to get good backlinks and improve SEO include:
- Publishing evergreen content.
- Creating interactive content.
- Using infographics.
- Syndicating content on sites like Medium.
In addition to backlinks, Google also likes to see internal links on your site to other pages and external links to platforms with high domain authority (you can check the domain authority of websites with a free MozBar tool.)
Professional marketers look to link to sites with a domain authority ranking of at least 20, ideally 40 or above. If you were to check out the domain authority of external links on this page, you’d find they all score highly, most upwards of 90. That could be a factor in how you found this page in the first place.
Lack of Trust
While quality content and good links meet Google’s EAT policy’s expertise and authority elements, lack of trustworthiness can easily see your Google ranking slide out of view.
Building trust in your business and its online platform requires a reputation management strategy that includes proactively encouraging positive reviews. Research shows that almost 70 percent of consumers leave a review when asked to do so. An even higher proportion gives as much credibility to an online review as a personal recommendation.
You also need to monitor your reviews so you can respond to negative comments in a way that mitigates reputation damage.
The BrightLocal SEO resource in 2017 revealed that nearly all consumers used search engines to find local businesses, with almost one-third perceiving responses to reviews as important in evaluating a business.
Besides showing you have your customers’ best interests at heart, responding to a negative review will set you apart from competitors who ignore negative feedback.
Importance of Google My Business in Page Rankings
Besides having a website that demonstrates expertise, authority, and trust, you also need a Google My Business (GMB) profile – a snapshot of your business that enables prospective customers to find you fast.
Google My Business is becoming increasingly important for local businesses, but many fail to take full advantage of this free resource. Even if you think your business doesn’t need a GMB profile, maybe you don’t have an office, or you think you’ll get bad reviews, you should still claim and optimize your listing by filling out all the sections you can. GMB is Google’s tool, they like it if you use it…
Even a simple measure like making sure your basic business details are listed correctly on Google My Business can help your local search ranking.
Make Sure Google Knows You Exist!
While it’s exasperating to find your business isn’t achieving a high ranking on Google, imagine how you’re going to feel if you discover you don’t exist at all in the eyes of the world’s most popular search engine.
This will happen if Google hasn’t indexed your site for various reasons, including:
- Your web pages have just been created, and Google hasn’t had time to index them yet – it can take a few weeks. There is a way to request that your site be indexed sooner if you have connected your website to Google Search Console.
- Google spiders scanning your site don’t like its meta tags – the snippets that highlight the content of a web page. This might be something to discuss with the person who developed your site or whoever is helping you with SEO.
Need Help to Improve Your Google Ranking?
Many small businesses in Connecticut simply don’t have the time or in-house resources to create a website designed to appeal to the Google algorithm and engage with potential customers.
If you find yourself in this situation, The Research Department is here for you – contact us to find out how we can help improve your Google status.