5 Steps to Organically Rank Higher on Google: A Guide for Local Businesses

How to organically rank #1 on Google 

Every local business owner wants to rank #1 on Google. So much so, that some companies will go to great lengths and extraordinary expenses to achieve this goal. Some of these measures aren’t honest or ethical, but those who resort to these measures don’t necessarily care about being honest or ethical so long as they get the desired results that they want. 

The reason why it is desirable to rank highly on Google is when people conduct a search they typically will only look at the top 3 responses. If you are not found on the first page of results, you might as well not exist as chances of you being seen or found are pretty slim. Because most people will only look at the top-ranked responses, you can see why it is important, and why people will go to great lengths to be ranked highly. 

Organically ranking high on search results is especially important for local businesses, because when people search for a local business, chances are it means that they are ready to make a purchase. For example, the last time you did a search for anything “near me”, you were conducting a local search, which is where local businesses want to be seen and rank high. “Near Me” searches are a good indicator that those who are searching for results are already aware of the product or service for which they are looking, and are ready to make a commitment to make an informed decision. If you don’t have relevant, or updated information that will help you to rank high in the results, you’re potentially missing out on new leads and customers. 

There are many different strategies and steps that you can take to help you organically rank higher on Google and other search engine results. Here are some proven ways to organically have your business rank higher in search results: 

  • Create and Optimize a Google My Business Account 
  • Create Relevant Online Content 
  • Invest in SEO
  • Utilize Keywords
  • Encourage Local Reviews 

Step 1: Create and Optimize a Google My Business Account

The first step to encouraging organic growth and organically ranking higher on Google is to create a Google My Business Account if you don’t have one already. There are many benefits to having a Google My Business profile, including being able to organically rank higher in Google search results. But, what exactly is a Google My Business account and what can it do to help your business? 

A Google My Business account is your business’s online identity with Google. It allows you to provide valuable information regarding your business to your customers and those who look you up online. This information includes a description of your business, including what services you offer, business hours, phone number, address, and website. Providing this information via your Google Business account provides customers the ability to get information about your business quickly and easily, which can lead to a positive first impression. Customers are looking for information, they want to find it quickly and easily and not have to hunt through pages of an archaic website, or worse have to call to find it. 

Having a Google Business account is the first step, now it needs to be optimized to fully reap all the benefits and be able to improve your chances of organically ranking higher. How do you optimize your account? There are different things you can do to optimize your Google Business account and ultimately improve your rankings. The first, and easiest thing that you can do is to update your business description, physical address, and hours of operation. With your business account that includes your physical address, your business can populate in Google Maps, helping customers to find your physical location. 

Here are the best ways in which you can optimize your Google business account to increase your rankings: 

  • Use Your Actual Business Name

This should go without saying, but the first and most important thing you can do is to use your actual business name when trying to optimize your Google business account. What this means is don’t include any additional keywords to your “name”, no matter how tempting it may appear. Using additional keywords or any other name aside from your actual business name is against Google’s Terms of Services and can result in your account being penalized. 

  • List a Local Phone Number

One of the easiest and best ways to validify the fact that you are a legit, local business is to include your phone number in your listing. Businesses who use a call tracking number can include that number by entering it in the primary slot, followed up with their actual phone number in the secondary slot. Search results will only display the number that was entered in the primary slot, but both will help to validate a business.  

  • Accurate Hours of Operation 

There isn’t much more that is frustrating to a potential customer than to search for business hours of operation, only to discover the hours posted are not accurate. Misinformation can lead to consumers leaving a negative review, lost business, and frustration. 

  • Include Relevant Keywords

Keywords are what customers use to search for business, products, and services online. If you’re not using the keywords they are searching for, they won’t be able to find you online. Using the keywords that your customers are using to search for not only on your webpage but on your social media accounts, is imperative to reaching your targeted audience. That doesn’t mean that you have to use the same language and tone for both your website and social media, but be able to adapt and utilize keywords to your advantage. Not sure what keywords are being used, take advantage of a keyword relevance optimization software that will do the research for you to discover the most relevant and popular keywords for your business. Use this resource and capitalize on the wealth of information you receive.  

  • Display Professional Photos

When people conduct an online search for your business, and your Google business account appears, the images that you have shared will be the images that customers see and associate with your business. You don’t always have control over the images that are posted of your business online, as many customers elect to upload their own photos when they write an online review. Select professional photos that you can use on your Google business page, your social media accounts, and other places online, so that when customers Google your business, they see the images that you want them to see first. When you use professional photos, you are showing customers that you are a serious business, and are putting your best foot forward in regards to your online image, location photos, branding images, and online reputation.

  • Respond to Online Reviews

Online reviews carry more weight than you might initially think. When customers leave a review about your business online, it will appear publicly for others to see and can have an immediate impact on those who search for your business. Research has found that consumers can be heavily swayed one way or the other based on online reviews–positive or negative. Knowing that reviews can have such an impact on consumers, it is important that you respond to all reviews that you receive for your business. 

Step 2: Create Relevant Online Content 

A big component of ranking deals with “prominence”, which Google can define using several different metrics. In other words, the activity and engagement that Google recognizes surrounding your website and brand, the higher you are to rank in the search results. Any interaction with your brand, including mentions and sharing of your website content count and help to get your recognized and ultimately ranked higher within Google. 

This then leads to the question, of what can you do to create content that is worth sharing to increase traffic and interaction with your website? There are different things that you can do yourself to create relevant online content that can entice and propel readers to share and increase your online engagement. 

  • Choose Popular Keywords

Keywords are the terms that people use to search online and find businesses. Doing some research to find out what those search terms are, and what keywords are benign used to find you will be valuable, as then you’ll be able to use those terms and keywords within your online content. As tempting as it might be to stuff every single keyword into every piece of content that you post, don’t do it. Google doesn’t reward keyword stuffing, instead make it flow naturally and Google will reward you for it.  Whatever your focus is, hone in on those keywords to help you rank higher for those search terms. 

  • Internal Backlinks

Whenever possible create internal backlinks from your new content to other blog posts and relevant product pages. When you create internal backlinks, you are not only generating interest, but you are also inviting visitors to your site to visit other relevant pages on your website that might interest them. When you create a backlink, make sure that they are quality links and fit naturally within the content. 

  • Refresh Content

Just because you already have a blog post about a particular product, doesn’t mean that you never have to write about it again. Search keywords and topics are constantly changing at a rapid rate, which means that you need to write refreshing content to stay relevant to what searchers are looking for. When you refresh your content with new blogs and content that target simple keywords and topics that are popular, can help you to see the same products and services, again and again. 

  • Optimized for Mobile Devices

A vast majority of people access the internet and websites via their smartphones and tablets. As a result, it is important that your website and blogs are optimized for these different devices. If you fail to optimize your website for both desktops and mobile devices, you could be missing out on a lot of customers. 

SEO matters

Step 3: Invest in SEO

A lot of these steps and suggestions can be done by yourself, as they are pretty easy and self-explanatory. Although they easily can be done in-house, for some it simply might be easier to invest in SEO, and trust the experts to do all the optimizing and content writing for you. When you invest in SEO, you can get more than just an optimized Google business account and relevant content. Depending on the SEO company and services you select, you can get more or less services provided to you to help you achieve your goals. Some of the most beneficial aspects of SEO to consider investing in include: 

  • Keyword Research 

Despite what you might think, there is actually a method to successful keyword research, it goes beyond just looking at what terms are being used to find you. There are tools available that SEO companies use (you can use them on your own as well), that help to identify and hone in on the most common keywords being used and what the search volume is for each keyword.  

SEO experts will know the best practices of when and how often to use keywords to achieve optimal results. They will know how to select a target keyword and how to write optimized content that is hyper-focused on the topic that addresses the targeted keyword. Additionally, SEO experts will know how to include different keywords within title tags and headlines, meta descriptions, headline tags, and image alt text. Don’t worry if you don’t know what these things are or what they mean, because when you invest in SEO, the experts know and will use these different components to help you organically rank higher on Google. 

  • Optimize Title Tag

The title tag is the title that will appear in search results, which is why it is highly recommended and encouraged by SEO experts to optimize your title tags with keywords and related search terms. Don’t just throw a random keyword into your title tags, hoping to rank higher; instead only use the keywords that actually pertain to the content that is found on a particular web page, because title tags are what tells a search engine what that page is about. 

  • Optimize Meta Descriptions

Similar to that of title tags, it is encouraged and recommended to optimize meta descriptions. This is the information that will appear under the title tag in search results. While some experts will say that the meta descriptions have no direct correlation with a higher or lower ranking in search results, it doesn’t hurt to optimize them anyways. Think of meta descriptions as an ad for the page or blog to which it correlates, using characters not words. 

  • Optimize Internal Links

Simply put, an internal link is when you hyperlink a word or phrase on one webpage of your website, linking it to another page on your website. What this does, is tells Google and other search engines that the two pages are relevant to each other, and is important and helps to strengthen SEO overall. 

The ability to rank high organically in Google and other search engines will take months. It is a slow process, but it is really rewarding when you do all that you can do and see the results come in. If you remain consistent, with posting new and relevant content, researching keywords, and optimizing your Google Business account, you will see a strong return on your investment in SEO pay off as you continue to organically rank higher and higher in Google search results organically. 

Step 4: Utilize Keywords

In case you haven’t been able to tell by now, keywords are going to be your best friend and play a critical role in organically ranking higher in online search results. Researching and using relevant and key keywords strategically throughout your website will not only direct what type of content you should be using, but keywords will also make it easily searchable through search engines. But how do you know exactly which keywords you should be using and which ones will be harder to rank for? Here are a few tips to help you find the best keywords that you should be using.

  • Know Your Niche

Every business has its own little niche that helps them to stand out from its competition. Spending time to really hone in on what that niche is and how it makes them different from the competition, can help to cultivate ideas that you might not have considered before. If you’re not sure what your specific niche is, talk to your existing customers and get to know them, and what brings them back to your business. Try putting yourself in the shoes of prospective customers and think about what it is that you offer that they might need or want. 

  • Define Your Goals

What is your goal once you begin to organically rank higher on Google? Are you wanting to increase the number of subscribers to your newsletter? Do you have a sales goal you are trying to reach by a specific date? Knowing what goals you have for your business, can help you define how you are going to go about achieving those goals and ranking higher on Google. The keywords that you ultimately decide to use, should align with your goals and help you to achieve them. 

  • Make a List of Relevant Topics

Now that you have a general idea of what your niche is and have defined your goals, now is the time to break it down even further into relevant topics. This is where you will define and hone in on the topics and specific products or services for which you want to rank high on Google for. These topics need to be important to your business and related to what your customer is already buying. What topics, products, or services will your target audience search for on Google? 

  • Start a List of Possible Keywords

Once you have defined your goals, figured out your niche, and broken down your topics into smaller categories, you can begin to compose a list of possible keywords. Start with words that directly correlate with your pre-defined categories. Think of the terms that your target audience might use to search for your business, and think of every possible combination or phrase associated with those words. Not sure where to start, think of how you can describe your business, products, or services in the simplest of terms possible, which will give you a good jumping-off point.  

  • Use Keyword Research Tools

While there is no hard and fast rule requiring people to use a keyword research tool instead of doing it all on their own. You can do what you want and feel comfortable doing, as there is no right or wrong decision; but there are some significant advantages to using a research tool overdoing it on your own. 

There are various different tools available to use, each will provide you with a wealth of knowledge regarding keywords and their search volume. Depending on which keyword research tool that you use, some will go farther into depth and give you more details than others, but regardless every tool will help you to find searchable keywords along with additional keywords you might not have thought of on your own. 

  • Learn About Your Competitors

Conducting keyword research on your brand alone isn’t enough, you’re also going to need to learn all about your competitors too. What are your competitors doing that you’re not doing and vice versa? What keywords are they ranking for that you’re not and would like to? Knowing what your competitors are doing and what is working for them, can really help you in your SEO efforts. This will also provide you with an opportunity to find what keywords are really aggressive and hard to rank for, while also identifying potential keyword gaps where you can capitalize and invest your time and effort with maximum payout. 

Encourage Reviews from your customers

Step 5: Encourage Local Reviews

Online reviews are important for any business, but they are especially important and can have a big impact on local businesses. Reviews are a great way to provide third-party, unbiased proof that your company lives up to its claims. Additionally, reviews show that customers had a positive experience and want to talk about it and share it with others. Thanks to Google and Yelp, customer reviews are becoming more and more popular, carrying more weight with them. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they make a personal recommendation from someone they know. 

Reviews are great and beneficial, but they don’t always come pouring in, sometimes you have to ask or encourage consumers to leave a review. Here are a few proven methods that you can implement to encourage and invite consumers to leave a review for others. 

  • Create an Email or Text Template

When you take the time to create an email or text template that you can automatically send out to customers removes the pressure and any excuse to not ask for one. Once you have done the leg work of creating a template, you can fine-tune it and word it exactly how you want, and have it ready to send out at a moment’s notice. 

  • Include Links to Google My Business and Yelp Profiles

Consider adding links to both your Google My Business and Yelp profiles to your website, making it easy for costumes to do directly to your profile and be able to leave a review. Additionally, if they see the icons they may consider leaving a review that they otherwise may not leave cause they didn’t think of it. If you wanted, you could even consider adding a comment, such as “Please leave a review”, next to the icons so you can ask and encourage reviews without appearing pushy. 

  • Include Links

In addition to including links from your website, consider including links to Google My Business and Yelp within your email signature, on your business cards, and on your invoices. In doing so, you are making it as easy as possible for them to leave a review if they choose to do so. 

  • Use a Review Tool

Sign up for a review tool, such as Local Reviews to help you ask for, manage, and respond to all your online reviews from one convenient place. Local Reviews can help you create an email or text template that you can have automatically sent out to your customers asking for them to leave a review. Within the text or email template, you can include a link that will take them directly to an online review site, such as Google My Business or Yelp, where they can leave a review if they choose to do so. 

As you can see, there are a lot of different things local business owners can do to organically rank higher on Google. Following the steps outlined above, along with understanding the different components within each, can be very rewarding and beneficial to the growth of your business. A little effort and work on your part, can go a long way in helping Google to see you, recognize your efforts and reward you for them. 

Online reviews can play a huge role in building your credibility and helping Google to recognize that what you have to offer is what your customers and others are looking for. Investing in a review tool software, such as Local Reviews can be extremely beneficial, no matter what size business you are, or what demographic your target audience is. If you are interested in learning more about what Local Reviews has to offer local businesses and how you can benefit from them, visit https://localreviews.com/ today. 

Author: Ashley Christensen, Lead Writer, Local Reviews, LLC