Struggling to be seen on search engines? Content strategist Niki May Blane offers her top tips to landing a page one result.
You’re a superhero at what you do. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be running your own business doing it. But when it comes to search engines, does it feel like you’re wearing an invisible cloak? Invisibility is not the superpower that you need. So how do you shapeshift into a Google Goliath?
Unfortunately there’s no magic bolt or spider bite that’s going to transform you overnight. Appearing on page one takes hard work. But there are a few power-ups you can take to help you on your way.
1. Add alt text to your images
I’m not talking about alternate universes here. Alt text is the descriptive text that sits behind images. It doesn’t exist to boost your rankings – it’s actually there as an accessibility measure. Alt text is read by screen readers and should accurately describe the image to help the visually impaired understand what is on the screen.
The added benefit of adding this description is that Google bots also read this information, and so the images on your website could appear in Google Image search results. This is particularly useful for infographics or any images that are relevant to your services – added incentive to choose your images with care.
Word to the wise though – it’s not advised to cram your alt text full of relevant keywords as this could negatively affect your Google rankings. And, well, that’s what bad guys do.
2. Get on Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is one of the ultimate Google resources for small businesses. It’s free and offers you a ton of opportunities to boost your visibility. My business, Big Bee Content, is on GMB (naturally). Take a look at the screenshot below.
Just look at all of that lovely prime Google real estate Big Bee takes up. On a mobile device it’s all the user sees before scrolling. And all the information they need to understand what I offer and to contact me is right there in front of them.
One of the other major reasons to be on GMB is because you’ll appear in Google Maps. Have you noticed that when you search for a business on Google without specifying a location it offers you local businesses first? That’s because it knows where you are and assumes you need results near you. If your local customers search for your business type and you’re not on GMB, you won’t appear on the map. That’s potentially a lot of lost opportunities.
3. Once you’re on GMB, fill it out and use it often
Google wants you to use its tools and it will reward you for doing so. Whats more, having a strong profile of Google adds authority to your brand. If customers see you have made an effort on Google, they know you’re the real deal. So plump out your profile with all of the information requested, from opening hours to products and services.
One of the tools GMB offers you is space to add posts and updates, giving you even more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP). Every week I write a blog for my business and I add the introduction, image and a link as an update on GMB. Here’s how Google rewards me: The promos get their own little space halfway down the SERP (see below). It’s a nice touch.
4. If in doubt, blog
Which brings me nicely to my fourth tip for boosting visibility on Google: Blog. Regularly updating your website helps to build something called ‘domain authority’ which in a nutshell means how much of an expert Google thinks you are on a particular subject.
The more you blog on your key topics, the more Google will start to believe you are an expert and the higher up the SERP you will be. The caveat to this is that the information you are putting out there in your blog can’t be riddled with sales messages. Quality, well-researched content that helps consumers is what Google prioritises.
5. Spend some money
For all of the benefit it provides, Google is not a charity, and so it will always reward those who spend money with it the most. When I worked in-house we would often ‘boost’ articles with ad spend right after they had been published. The boost in visibility early on led to greater engagement which led to better ‘organic’ (non paid-for) visibility. Boost content regularly (for regular campaigns, for example) and you can expect to see significant benefits for years. A little money goes a long way.
Visibility doesn’t come for free. Whether it’s time or money, you have to put some resource towards it. But the investment will be worth it when you get to swap your invisibility cloak for the power of Google flight.