Let’s get this straight from the beginning: every small business owner wants their website to rank higher on Google – it’s a given. But what we often forget is the core purpose behind that desire. When it comes down to it, you don’t want rankings; you want leads. You want hot leads: interested customers who are ready to schedule your service. So here’s a reality check: aiming for the top spot on Google shouldn’t be your primary focus or strategy – ranking #1 is the culmination of a well-rounded, customer-centric approach to your digital marketing.
How to trick Google into better rankings.
Just kidding! You can’t – at least not long-term. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to outsmart Google’s latest algorithm to move your site up a few spots in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). But let’s be honest – we can’t outsmart Google, and any agency that claims they can shouldn’t be trusted. I recently covered the trend in Google’s latest algorithm updates when we talked about getting better rankings through better business operations. To summarize: every algorithm Google rolls out focuses more and more on weeding out bad SEO tactics – all of the things marketers do to try to trick their way into higher rankings – in an effort to provide the most relevant and valuable content to the searcher. Therefore, your focus shouldn’t be on trying to employ specific SEO tactics to get to the top of the SERPs, it should be on genuinely providing the best user experience. The result? Better rankings.
Instead, let’s build a good SEO strategy.
Instead of chasing Google’s latest algorithms, we should spend our time creating a robust SEO strategy built on your reputation. At the core of this strategy lies three key pieces: a well-crafted, user-friendly website that clearly communicates your brand proposition; a healthy amount of genuine, positive reviews that reflect your customers’ satisfaction; and most importantly, the embodiment of excellence in every facet of your business operations – you need to walk the talk. By anchoring your strategy around these three key elements, you’ll build a strong foundation for long-term digital success – regardless of the latest algorithm update.
How do we do it? Let’s dig in.
Build a quality website that meets the needs of the user.
Your website should be structured intuitively, with content that meets the needs of your audience. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and creating doorway pages in the hopes of ranking for specific locations. A well-optimized website should be clear, intuitive, and informative, guiding your potential customers through your offerings and clearly explaining why they should call you. It should speak their language and provide them with solutions, not just a list of services. There are still on-page SEO best practices that matter, like clear heading hierarchy, image alt text, website architecture, schema markup, etc… but the primary goal of the website should be to serve the needs of the user.
Get genuine, positive reviews – a lot of them!
Your digital footprint extends beyond your website, in fact, 98% of customers read online reviews for local businesses [BrightLocal]. Real, positive reviews from satisfied customers can be a game-changer for your business. They not only help with establishing trust but also signal to Google that your business is legitimate and reliable.
Cultivating a solid review presence is more than an SEO tactic; it’s a testament to the real value you bring to your customers.
Here’s where I’ll place a shameless plug for our text-message review platform: Summit. There are several options out there for collecting reviews from your customers, but Summit makes it easy for both you and your customer.
Be the best in your industry.
The only way to get great reviews is to be a great business. You’ve got to walk the talk and provide the best possible experience you can to your customers. At City Ranked, we work with home service providers and have found the following four things make the biggest impact.
- Find your niche. In a competitive market, finding your niche isn’t just a choice, it’s a strategic imperative. There are plenty of other businesses that offer similar services in the same service area, you’ll need to find a way to stand out. Identify your unique strengths and play to them. Specialize in something and be the best at it.
- Provide emergency services. Your customers rely on you, often during critical moments. Whether it’s a burst pipe, a sudden roof leak, or a pest invasion, emergencies don’t just happen during business hours. By offering prompt and reliable emergency services, you show your customers that you truly care, fostering trust and leading to positive reviews.
- Answer the phone after-hours. Have you ever been frustrated that banks are only open during business hours, when you’re busy running your business? Your customers feel the same way. Extend your availability beyond the typical 9-5 to maximize your lead volume.
- Don’t miss phone calls. Every missed call can mean a lost customer; failing to answer the phone can inadvertently signal that you are unreliable and unresponsive. You’re just one business in the SERPs – if you don’t answer the phone, your potential customer will move on to your competitor. Google tracks whether or not you’re answering your phones through a metric called Responsiveness – more responsive companies will get better rankings.
Don’t have employees available to meet the call volume? That’s a great problem to have as a small business, and an easy one to solve with Marketing Automation. That’s a topic for another blog post.
Want Better Rankings? Be a Better Business.
Rankings can certainly act as a metric for measuring success of your SEO strategy, and if you double-down on the three key elements we’ve discussed, you will see improvement to your rankings. But let’s focus our strategy on what really matters.
The success of your business doesn’t rely on climbing up the search result ladder, it depends on you creating a meaningful connection with your potential customer, providing real value, and fostering a sense of trust and reliability. You have to be a better business to get better rankings.
Let your website be a true reflection of the services you offer and the value you provide, let your reviews be a testament to the exceptional service you offer, and walk the talk in how you operate your business. In the end, ranking #1 on Google isn’t a strategy; it’s a reward for being the best company in the eyes of your customers.
Focus on being the best and the rest will follow.
Ranking #1 on Google isn’t a strategy, it’s a reward. in Vancouver WA - Portland OR - Nationwide
City Ranked is a Full-Service Digital Marketing Agency with Clients in Oregon, Washington & Select Industries Nationwide: