If your business has a website I need to say well done, you’ve made the first step. The website is only useful if it can it’s found by people who need your service. If you think about it, attracting someone looking for your service will mean they’re more likely to buy from you.
You can share your website on Facebook or Twitter and your same family and friends will see it. They may even take a look at it once and that’ll be it.
Long term, you need users coming to your website who will convert to sales. Whether your sale is a physical product or service, you need people who need it.
Match search intent for high search ranking
To get an understanding of how Google serves search results you need to think about how you search. What type of search query do you use when performing these searches:
- when want to buy a product?
- when you want to find out the answer to a question?
- when you need a local service?
Each of these are very different queries. Google can tell by the way you word your search query what the intention of the search is. If you’re a online eCommerce shop Google will serve search results dependant on where the user is in the buying process. For example they may just be searching for the best product within the market. So if you were searching for the wireless headphones you may search “best wireless headphones 2022”. This tell Googles your in the review stage and working out which to buy. Then if you were to search “cheapest sony XXX wireless headphones” so this indicates the user is ready to buy. Both these searches will provide the user different results because the intention is different.
But my Business is number one for our business name
If you search your business name in Google your business will (hopefully) be at the number one spot. This is great to be at number one but you’re limiting to customers who already know or have used your business before.
You want your business to show at the top of Google when people search for the service or product you provide. More people will search for a service/product than your brand name, well unless you’re Apple.
Let’s put this in a real-world example. You own a hairdresser business called “Top KnotzHair” and you’re based in Oxford.
If you search “Top Knotz Hair” in Google you’re at the top of Google. The monthly traffic for that search will likely be very low. As it will be only people actively searching for your business.
If you look at the search traffic for “best hairdresser Oxford”, you would find it’s searched an average of 350 times a month (Mangools KWFinder). That’s a potential of 350 users with the intention of using a hairdresser in Oxford.
Research shows that over 25% of people click the first result on Google. So if you appear 350 times at number one, you would get around 85 clicks to your website per month.
It’s then up to your website to convert to them. But, if there is no traffic to your website then you’ll never gain new customers online.
Simple steps to improve your business search ranking
Here are a few simple steps to improve the search engine optimisation of your website. These are low-level tips but I’ve noticed so many websites not doing the simple things.
Tip 1. Change the title of your home page
This tip is something that bothers me on every website where I see it. It’s that simple to change and does make a difference. If you go to your websites home page and look at the page title.
To find the page title you need to look at the title in the tab of the browser, take a look at the screenshot below. I’ve highlighted where you can see the page title of our business homepage.
The page title to our homepage is “Web Design in Barnard Castle getting business online.”
It’s not perfect yet, I still have some work to do on the page at an SEO level so please don’t judge me. It does have the two key factors that any homepage title should have. It has what we do (“Web Design”) and where we do it (“Barnard Castle”).
The title of the page is usually one of the first lines of code. It’s one of the first lines that the Google bots that crawl your websites will read. If you’re not indicating the key information about your business then it will be harder for you to rank higher within Google searches. And everyone wants to be higher in Google for their service/topic.
To give you a bad example, and an example that makes me cringe every time I see it would be:
“Home | Mitchell Digital” or “Mitchell Digital | Home”
Let’s break this page title down, what information is it actually giving Google. “Home”, is telling Google this is page “Home” but this doesn’t matter to Google. Generally, your home page would be your root domain (so ours is www.mitchelldigital.co.uk). I don’t need to tell Google this is the homepage, Google doesn’t say “good job on making a home page!”.
On every page of the website, you need to think about the users intent when creating content. I don’t think there will be anyone searching in Google for “homepage Mitchell Digital”. Our aim is to show up in Google as high as possible for the services we provide in our local area. This similar concept can be applied to any of your pages within your website, not just your homepage.
Page titles are important on every page but I’m trying to look at businesses without an SEO strategy. Your homepage will likely be your main source of traffic from Google. That’s why I’m throwing more importance on your homepage for now.
Before reading any more of this article, open a new tab and take a look at your businesses website. Does it have something like “Home | My Business Name”? If it does…
Tip 2. Make sure Google Bots can crawl your website
As I mentioned in the previous tip Google uses clever bots to crawl and scan your pages for content. They look at the content to see what services and information you provide people. In return, they will try and send people with the correct intent onto your website.
Google is willing to send people to your website so give them the ability to crawl your website. If they can crawl your website then they can help people who are looking for your services. And they are helping them by giving them your business as a highly ranked option.
Your website can ask the bots not to crawl your website. When I say ask, you are relying on Google to listen and not crawl your website.
If your live site has never allowed your website to be crawled it’s quite likely your website has never shown up in Google search results. This would even apply to searching for your brand name.
You test your website to make sure it can be crawled using SEO Site Checkup’s free tool. Insert your website URL and it will check your website can be crawled by Google.
If it passes, then you have nothing to worry about you can move on. But, if you get an error back then you need to do something about it. Within a WordPress based website, this can be pretty easy to fix.
The first thing I would do, if you haven’t already, would be to install an SEO plugin within your website. When it comes to SEO plugins, Yoast is pretty much the gold standard. If you were to install and activate Yoast onto your WordPress website you would get a warning. The warning would be indicating ‘No-Index’ (not allowing Google to crawl the website). You can then click this warning and it will show you how to fix this issue.
If you didn’t want to install Yoast, not sure why you wouldn’t, but you can still fix the issue.
Login into your website WordPress admin area and then hover over “Settings” and click “Reading”.
On the “Reading” page you need to make sure “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is set to “Uncheck”. All you need to do now is click “Save Changes”.
Google is now allowed to crawl your website but you will need to be patient for it to appear within the search results. Having your website crawled and indexed into Google can takes months if you wait to do it organically.
To ask Google to crawl your website you would need to use Google Search Console. To find out how to do that I would recommend watching this YouTube video. I’ll write more about this in the future but in the meantime, Youtube is your best friend.
Tip 3. Security Certificate Installed on your website to improve your search ranking
As a web developer, this is a given these days but I still see “non-secure” websites pop up all the time. This is also known as an ‘SSL Certificate’ it makes the data from users safe during transport to the server.
If you use an online shop you would, I hope, see a locked padlock in the URL. This level of security is crucial for any website sending sensitive data like credit card. A secure website would prevent any access to your credit card details from you clicking the buy button to the server receiving your request.
Google has been using security certificates as a ranking factor since 2014. You definitely need to make sure you’re doing this.
The simplest way to check if your website is secure is by opening a web browser and visiting your website. In the URL bar, you should see a locked padlock to state that the website is secured via a SSL certificate.
Most hosts provide a free SSL certificate service within their hosting packages now. This service is known as “Let’s Encrypt”. This certificate authority provides SSL certificates for millions of websites. It’s a free service and it’s also backed by the major players within the hosting and cloud market.
If you want to install this on your website and your knowledge is limited, I would recommend opening a support ticket with your host. If you were to ask “Do you provide free SSL certificates? And if so, how do I install them?”. Hopefully they would do this for you or provide the documentation on how to do it. This would be your simplest option, well as long your host support is helpful, which most are.
Let’s say you have your SSL certificate installed on your hosting but your website is still not secure. For an SSL certificate to work, you must go to your business website using HTTPS rather than HTTP. Here’s an example to show the difference:
Notice the “s” after “http”? Using HTTPS allows the user to use your website via a secure certificate. Making this change without any developer knowledge could be a little long in the tooth. There are plenty of tutorials on the internet on how to do it. If your website is using WordPress then I would recommend the Really Simple SSL plugin. This plugin should take care of all the complicated stuff and give you a secure website.
Bonus Tip for Local SEO. Include your address
This may seem obvious but again it’s something we see so often. Make sure you include your address!
This helps Google get the locality of your business. This gives Google the ability to give users with the right intent to show the business within their results.
It also helps improve authenticity with users of the website. If users see you have a physical location the trust in your business is greater.
Taking this a step further I would also make sure you use your address to set up a Google My Business profile. This is another way to improve your search rankings by helping people close to your location, find you.
Keep improving your search ranking
To improve the search ranking of your website there are many different factors. The aim of this article was to improve search ranking with some very basic steps. Search Engine Optimisation can be a minefield. Our focus is to help businesses at a local level improve their ranking. More intensive steps will push your website higher than your competitors. But you need to cover the basics on your website first. Take a look at your website right now. Are these simple steps completed? These tips are some of the first things any SEO company would change. And the sooner you change them the sooner Google will realise.
These tips may not get you to the top of Google but they will help you outrank people who aren’t doing the basics.
Please check your businesses website and make sure you’re doing everything mentioned.