Small & Medium-Sized Businesses: Here’s How to Get Seen Online
- Although large companies often receive most of the attention, small businesses have the greatest amount of opportunity to benefit from SEO.
- One of the fastest ways to get seen by local customers is Google My Business, a service that allows local businesses to advertise their services, locations, products, etc. for free.
- Google recently revealed a radical new change to their Google Shopping service which greatly benefits small businesses: they can now advertise on Google Shopping for free!
- Now that free, organic product listings are available to businesses of every size, the companies that take advantage of this early will have a major edge over the competition.
Businesses that develop and implement digital marketing strategies generally have one goal: exposing their businesses to new customers so that they can make more money. If you want to use SEO to get your business seen by more people, you’ll often go online looking for SEO best practices. Unfortunately, a lot of the strategies you’ll find to expand your online presence and reach potential customers are overly broad because they were developed for large companies. These days, small- to medium-sized businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by SEO like never before.
In the United States, an overwhelming majority of businesses are small or medium. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, there are 30 million small businesses in the US. That accounts for 99.9% of all businesses. Although large companies often receive most of the attention, small businesses have the greatest amount of opportunity to benefit from SEO.
While general SEO best practices you’ll find online can help you to build a better fundamental understanding, local SEO solutions for small businesses are what will really move the needle. If you want your small business to get seen, you need to be focused on local SEO solutions that reach real potential customers near you.
Local Search Results: How to Get Seen
One of the fastest and most efficient ways to get seen by local customers is Google My Business. Google My Business is a service offered by Google that allows small, local businesses to advertise their services, locations, products, etc. for free on the search engine results page. Setting up a Google My Business profile is easy and Google even offers an app to help business owners manage their profile, reviews, respond to customer questions, post pictures, and much more.
When a customer executes a search that Google determines to be local, they will typically see a map and what’s called the local three pack. This quickly provides info to customers about what Google thinks are the most relevant businesses related to their search query. So, if someone searches “Indian food near me,” Google will show a map of locations for three Indian restaurants within a short distance of where the user is searching. They will also show phone numbers or directions for each and the ability for a user to expand for more information. These results appear at the very top of the results page, above the fold on mobile devices, and immediately when the user is searching from a voice assistant device.
The more information you provide to Google My Business, the more likely it will be that your business shows up for search queries that are relevant. When you show up for highly relevant queries, you can expect a greater click-through rate and higher conversion rate. In other words, you’ll be seen by local customers and they’ll be more likely to patronize your business.
Google My Business is an incredibly valuable tool that no local businesses can afford to ignore. It’s important to note that Google does place some restrictions on how businesses can use this service. For example, if your business doesn’t have a storefront or physical address, it can sometimes be difficult to show up. Some businesses opt to use a virtual office address but that can be risky. In most cases, Google My Business is one of the most important local SEO solutions because it’s easy to set up, easy to use, and highly effective at attracting potential customers.
Shopping Results: How to Get Seen
If your business sells products, then you may already be familiar with Google Shopping. Historically, to show up in Google Shopping, you would need to pay to serve product listing ads, or PLAs. PLAs typically have the highest return on investment of any paid advertisement because potential customers are directed to the exact product they’re looking for. However, Google recently revealed a radical new change to their Google Shopping service which greatly benefits small businesses that don’t have massive advertising budgets. You can now advertise your products on Google Shopping for free!
To do so, you need to set up a Google Merchant Center account. Fortunately, Google recently made Google Merchant Center available to all retailers. Once this is done, you’ll need to create a product feed. If this sounds a little complicated, don’t worry, it’s actually pretty simple. In fact, many of the most common CMS’ can export a product feed automatically for you. If your business only has a small number of distinct products, you can even set up a feed manually in Google Sheets. To assist you, Google provides templates so you know exactly what information you need to provide to get your ads approved and your products showing up correctly. Still, if your business needs additional help with setting up a product feed and using Google Shopping, it’s a good idea to work with an SEO agency that’s familiar with the ins and outs of Google Shopping.
Now that free, organic product listings are available to businesses of every size, the companies that take advantage of this early will have a major edge over the competition. It remains to be seen if Google will allow local businesses to serve what are called Local Inventory Ads for free. Currently, to serve ads for products to nearby potential customers, you still have to pay. However, Google has indicated that they will continue to be making changes to make Google Shopping more accessible to small businesses in the future.
Overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? No worries – our team of SEO professionals are ready to take your business to the next level. Whether you have questions about Google My Business or Google Shopping, we can help. Reach out today for a free consultation.