Getting your customers to find you
When somebody has a problem that you can solve, and they head over to Google Search...what are they actually looking for?
They’re wanting to find someone that they know can help them, that has the answer to their problem, and can show them the steps to take.
So first things first...becoming Google friendly!
Busy? You can also download the full PDF guide here:
This is a 3 part Guide to getting more business from your website.
Part 1 - Getting your customers to find you
A - Organic Reach & SEO
B - Paid Advertising & Promotion
A - Look and Feel
B - User Experience
C - Trust & Credibility
A - Social Proof
B - Free Info
C - CTA Buttons
D - Visitor Expectations
They’re out there…looking for you…but how can you stand out in the crowd so they can see you?
A. Organic Reach & SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
In other words - getting found on Google and other search engines.
There’s a lot of hype and talk about how to rank (appear) on the first page of Google…it’s a very trendy topic…big brands spend thousands of dollars a month to keep on top of it…and just so you know…in some industries, it’s virtually impossible to compete with the big guns and their Google ads (eg. accommodation pages).
So if your website doesn’t show up in a Google search…and haaanngg on…don’t type in ’your business name’….are your customers typing your business name in to Google??…likely not…so you need to think like your customer…get inside their heads…
Most likely…they’re either typing in a phrase that describes their pain point or the solution they are looking for…so open an incognito browser window and step into your customer’s shoes (really imagine being in their shoes) and try a few phrases to see if your site appears…
If your site doesn’t show up even when
you search for just ‘your company name’
...you’re in real trouble!
If organic reach is really important to you (and it should be), and you have some time to keep working at it, you will succeed…but it almost never happens overnight. Here are some ‘best practice’ Google friendly actions that every site owner should take as of 2020:
Important Website Elements
Keywords - when you can’t find something you’re looking for online…it’s partly because the website that has it just doesn’t have the keywords and content structure in place so that they pop up in the search results for you…very frustrating! Don’t do that to your potential customers!
Obviously, there is more than just keywords to ranking on Google but this is the first big step. Think about the words your potential customers are typing into Google….isolate the best ones by doing some keyword research, and then use those words in your website headings, content, and metadata….and also in your image file names, alt tags, and descriptions! If your website is built on WordPress, the Yoast plugin is a great tool.
No idea where to start? - spy on your competition! Try this tool: https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/
Other Keyword Research tools:
Content - As well as using keywords (lightly) throughout your text, Google needs your content to be well written, original, and at least 300+ words per page. Blog posts and cornerstone content should probably be 950+ words.
These estimates have been constantly fluctuating and debated throughout the industry for years…so take it as a general rule…not set in stone. There is a lot of research that points to long copy being better for ranking (2500+ words).
Remember too that you need to appeal to search engines and humans, so too many words may overwhelm your busy site visitors.
Duplicate content is a no-no and a red flag to Google…whether it is between the pages of your site or you’ve copied something from someone else’s site...don't do it!
(More info on content in section 2 & 3!)
Metadata - This is the unseen information hidden in your website that is specifically created for Google and other search engines. Basically, they are snippets of text that are read by bots and it tells Google what your site is about, what is important for ranking and what to display on the Google search page.
The main tags that should be edited are - Title (keep it to 50-60 characters) and Page Description (use 155 characters). There’s a lot more to metadata, but if your site is set up properly on WordPress, you’ll be all sorted as WordPress + Yoast guide you to have everything set up properly from the start.
Schema Markup - Creates rich snippets…if you’ve seen websites listed on Google search with extra info like a 5 star rating, or a thumbnail photo…that’s a rich snippet…and it gives you better visibility on Google. There are many snippet options available depending on your content and industry.
Backlinks - Really important! ...and really time-consuming and painful to put in place as well. Backlinks are links to your website on other websites…It’s a great way to promote your site in many other places online, and Google ‘may’ see them as a seal of approval for your site which will improve your ranking.
Note: Poor quality backlinks can hurt your ranking…and never buy backlinks! Choose trusted websites with a high domain authority!
- Create a Youtube channel - make sure you have links to your website in your descriptions
- Business listings in reputable online directories
- Share web content on social media
- Do some blog & forum commenting
- Contribute to sites like Quora & eHow
- Contribute to Wikipedia
- Reach out and ask for backlinks from affiliated industry sites
- Do some guest blogging
- Insert Internal links in your site content (from page to page)
Technical Note: Backlinks come in 2 forms - dofollow and nofollow. Building your good quality dofollow links is the goal as these will help with Google ranking...and they’re the ones that tend to take more work to create.
This does not mean that you reject any nofollow link opportunities though….it’s all good stuff! Want to know which links are which?…Google it:
Tool Tip: Check the backlinks on your site…and competitor sites: https://ahrefs.com/backlink-checker
Domain Age - Don’t be too quick to throw your old domain name away if you’re thinking of rebranding or shaking up your online presence. New domains get to start ranking from the end of the line!...though this is not a rule…just a serious consideration.
Buying old domains with page rank is actually big business. It’s probably not actually the ‘age’ of the domain per se, but how long since the first inbound link was recorded by Google.
Site/page speed - Really seriously important…your Google ranking will (most likely) be affected if your site loads slowly (not to mention the fact that visitors will not hang around if the page does not load within a few seconds)…..cheap hosting, large images, bad code, too many plugins can all cause this issue.
Site Speed Tools:
Mobile friendly website - Bad mobile site/page speed and lack of mobile responsiveness will hurt your ranking...seriously. How long do you spend on an old non mobile-responsive site when you are on your mobile device?...ZERO….and Google has picked up on that ‘time on site’ and bounce rate issue…so don’t be one of these sites!
Check here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
If your site was built pre-2015 you might have issues here. Although ‘mobile responsive’ websites began around 2010, mobile ‘versions’ of websites were still the standard for some years after that…and that’s not the way sites are built now.
As of July 2019 Google ranks sites by ‘mobile-first’ indexing by default which means they predominantly use the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking.
Don’t have a mobile friendly site??
…you’re in trouble, but don’t worry, we can help you out!
Security - First of all if your site is not served over SSL (secure sockets layer), you’re just about the last one left!!...though you may have noticed every now and then that your browser will not open a website that it deems as not safe because it's missing a current SSL certificate…that’s what happens if you have not updated your site to a secure connection with an SSL Certificate.
Most basic sites can simply install a free ‘Let's Encrypt’ certificate. E-commerce sites need a higher level of security and will require a paid SSL certificate.
Google started issuing penalties for sites not using SSL back in January 2017 with ‘Not Secure’ warnings and today you may have difficulty opening non SSL sites at all in some browsers. You’ll know if your site has SSL installed by the URL which will start with HTTPS: instead of HTTP:
Another major security issue is that it is very easy to not notice if your site has been hacked…but Google does notice…and no they don’t let you know…they just de-rank your site or remove it altogether. In 2017, Google said they removed 80% of the websites from the search results that were reportedly hacked or compromised.
One of the most common behaviours of a hacked site is that it will redirect a visitor to a different website from the Google Search page. You probably will never know it was hacked because you tend not to Google your own business.
Interesting reading: https://sucuri.net/reports/2019-hacked-website-report/
Tools to check your website:
Use multiple platforms
The ultimate outcome is when your business shows up on the first page of Google multiple times...your website, website’s inner pages, social media pages, industry directories. Here’s how to do it…
Google My Business - Whether you have a shop front or not..this is the first and most important additional platform to set up...just do it...if you have done it already...check it!
46% of all Google searches are local -
claiming and optimising your free Google My Business (GMB)
listing is the foundation of effective local SEO.
Your GMB listing is one of the top ranking factors for organic results on Google Search, and Maps. There’s a little bit of work involved in completing your listing fully, but that’s a tiny price to pay for a significant boost to your website’s search results.
Around 95% of web searches in Australia are done on Google so if your business is based in Australia, you don’t really need to worry about other search engines. If you have an international market..Bing has a little bit more of a hold…and it’s popularity is growing worldwide, partly due to the fact it is the default search engine on Microsoft products, Amazon’s Alexa and Kindle, and Apple’s Siri.
Social Media platforms - Many people will tell you that you need a Facebook page, and maybe you do… but maybe you don’t. It all depends on where your potential customers are. Below are the most popular platforms for businesses (in general) in Australia, that can appear in organic Google searches (Stats below are based on 13+year old Australians as of 2020)
- Facebook - over 70% of Australians have a Facebook account and about half of them check the platform daily.
- YouTube - Australians on average spend over 20 hours every month watching Youtube, and a lot of those views are ‘how to’ videos. YouTube is also the second largest search engine in the world after Google.
- Instagram - almost a half of all Australians are on Instagram and it tends to be used by more women than men, and a younger demographic overall. It’s also used by more businesses and professionals than you might think!
- Twitter - it’s very popular with big-time influencers around the world but not so much in Australia (30%). Twitter works well for bite-size information if you want to attract journalists and influencers as well as an international audience.
- LinkedIn - a niche hub for business to business and professional services with a higher Australian reach than you’d think - over 50% of 13+year old Australians are on LinkedIn, though over half of the users will be on the site less than three times a week.
- Pinterest - this platform is a digital scrapbook that is used by three times more women than men is a great place for inspirational content to get traffic back to your website. 24% of Australians are on Pinterest
So do your research but don’t spread yourself too thin by being everywhere…find out where your ideal customers are and be strategic with your social media marketing plan.
Online Directories - Citations are references to your business - generally in online directories - that typically display your NAP (name, address, phone number). Citations are believed to be a top ranking factor and need to be consistent. Discrepancies ie. spelling errors and address structure variations will cause
Google to discredit you.
Here's a great list: https://whitespark.ca/top-local-citation- sources-by-country/australia/
B. Advertising & Promotion - Social/Google/Offline
Facebook & Instagram - The one and only reason why your business should be on Facebook and Instagram is because everyone else is there. Given that everyone uses Google and Youtube for searching most of the time, the time they’re spending when they are not, is most likely on social media.
The Facebook and Instagram ads platform is one in the same. Ads can target specific demographics, retarget your website and business page visitors, micro-target, and it’s easy to add call-to-action buttons like Contact Us, Book Now, Apply Now, Learn More, etc. right in your posts.
Controlled targeting makes Facebook and Instagram very cost effective if done right. Learning to use the ad platform effectively takes time and it’s best to spend with caution in the beginning.
LinkedIn - It’s no secret that LinkedIn is the best professional platform out there… from individuals who are looking for opportunities or just building their professional profiles, to the wide range of companies and businesses who want to be more visible in the market and extend connections, LinkedIn is the perfect avenue for connection-building, professionally speaking.
Funnily enough, most people have no idea how to utilise LinkedIn properly even though it’s easier to optimise than Facebook…which means it’s potentially a gold mine if you commit to using it as part of your marketing strategy.
Google - The biggest difference between Google and Facebook ads is the initial intent. On Google, people are actively looking for your products and services in the first place, whereas on Facebook you’re putting yourself in front of people who ‘may’ be interested in what you have to offer.
The Google ads platform has a steep learning curve and like Facebooks Ads, you can spend a lot of money with no return during the learning process. If you’re wondering whether to try Google Ads or not, just answer the question - are your potential customers using Google to search for your services??
Offline - networking…you probably won’t gain a customer from one networking introduction, meeting or cold call…so give them a reason to take action after the meeting or phone call with your ‘free offer’ on your website! Give them a card with a CTA and a QR code to make it easy to access.
Give yourself an extra reason to follow up too…send them some extra valuable info or content that’s relevant to the conversation, for example a recap on the tips and info that you discussed with them in person, and links to online info (on your site or other sites) that will help with the issues you were discussing.
Big Tip1 - make sure you are using Google Analytics for research (which means your site need to be set up on the platform with the GA code added to your site.) Head over to https://analytics.google.com/ and make sure you log in with your existing Google account.
Big Tip 2 - when researching on Google - below the search bar, be sure to go choose tools > Any time > Past year.
Why?…because anything you need to know about being online needs to be current information!