Google rankings are the ultimate form of being graded on a curve: no matter how well everybody does, only one person gets to be ranked first. Since 53 percent of organic web searches result in the searcher clicking that first link, the prize for first place isn’t just a blue ribbon – it’s potentially the success or failure of a business. It’s a tight, tough race to rank higher on Google.
If you want to win it, use every one of our expert-suggested, boots-on-the-ground-tested tools in the arsenal below. Sure, you can just use three…but what if your competitor is using four?
- Find Out Which Keywords They’re Using and Analyze the Metrics.
Some will be less competitive overall, meaning you’ll be able to just outperform them on those same keywords and force them to a lower ranking on that search. For some words, they’ll be a little too entrenched or the competition will be too hot. In that case, find a less competitive key phrase that grabs the same clients…then go forth and own that phrase. We reported this month on a host of resources to help you get and use that information.
While you’re at it, identify two to three keyword niches you can throw just a handful of blog posts at. These are especially helpful in tapping previously under-leveraged populations.
- Add Video.
Page stay length is one of the more powerful ways Google confirms that its listings are appropriate (under the assumption that people who leave a page quickly got steered there incorrectly). A video on your page greatly increases page stay length, since even a short video is longer than the time needed to increase “bounce rate.” It doesn’t even have to be a great video. Today’s audiences are patient with junior varsity production value if the material is good.
Put the video up on YouTube while you’re at it, to take advantage of social signaling and even get a little ad revenue.
- Guest Blog for Your Out-of-Town Competition.
Find a business who would be your competitor if you shared a zip code, and offer to guest blog on their site. Enough of those (with links back to your site) will mean all of that company’s search engine mojo serves your company, too. It also helps you establish your credentials as an expert in your field. If you do most of your business online, find a business in a related but different niche to take advantage of the same concept.
Guest blogging for major industry, fan and trade websites is another way to make this idea work for you. Some of them will even pay you a few bucks (up to a few hundred bucks) to do it.
- Go Loco About Getting Local.
Google is giving a lot of special mojo and attention to businesses it identifies as local with searches matching that local area. Some of the factors Google looks at when determining “localness” include:
- Mention of your local area on your website
- Social activity and reviews in your local area
- Links to and from other localized businesses or entries in your area
- Citations and local information identifying your business as local
First prize in this race typically goes to the first competitor to do it right.
Get even more powerfully local by setting up a Google Local profile. It puts your name in this hat in a big way.
- Create More Landing Pages, Each Chasing a Different Keyword.
This gives you two advantages. First, even if you don’t beat your competitor on their top-performing search term, you’re beating the pants off of them in four others. Second, the landing page text and call-to-action can be customized to match the different search terms.
Remember to use meta tags and smart page names for each of those landing pages to leverage their power as effectively as possible.
- Get Seriously Social.
Since its Pigeon update, Google uses social metrics like shared or liked/plussed/favorited links to web content to account for 7.24 percent of search result weight. That means the larger your social audience, and the greater engagement around what you post, the better you will do on Google search. From 2012 to 2014 or so, you had to be active on Google Plus to reap the benefits of this trick, but now the social activity marker extends to most of the big social media platforms.
A fan club or community that encourages social engagement around your business can get you a lot of leverage here. It mobilizes an army of people who share your stuff consistently, for free.
The Google search wars are as real as price wars and other races between competing businesses to see who gets the edge. It’s an edge so worth having that it can even justify operating at a loss for a while, so you can later operate at higher profits because the competitors you beat are now out of business. You can also take out a loan to cover those operating costs gaps, or to fuel some of the more expensive options in the list above. Kabbage has you covered either way.