In this series of posts, I’m looking at what you need to think about to get your website to the top of Google. This mainly involves improving your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This article is your first starting point on how to get your business online and find out how to get to the top of google for free.
- How to get to the top of google for free
- The first steps to create a website for your small business
- Why Is SEO important for small businesses
- How to rank in Google – what is SEO and how it works
- SEO for business growth – how to structure your website
- How to get your website on Google’s first page creating relevant content
- How to find the best keywords for your website
- Website content ideas – how to create good website content
What does getting online mean?
Everyone seems to be ‘online’ these days, but what does this actually mean for your business?
I think this simply means having some sort of presence available. If a potential or existing customer looks for your business, you want to offer them something that tells them what you offer, how it will improve their lives, and what they need to do to buy.
If you are a traditional brick and mortar store or a local business that has traded on word of mouth, you may ask yourself, do you need to be found online? However, if there is one takeaway for your business from the Covid years, having the ability to deal with customers online was vital to many companies. So yes, some sort of presence online is beneficial.
Does this mean you need a full-blown website? No.
There are many directories, or social media platforms you can add your business details to that may make you visible if someone tries to find you.
Starting small in this way may be all you need to keep business growing and new work rolling in. And if you have your name in any online directories, most of which are free to join, you are getting at least some 24×7 promotion.
How to get to the top of Google for free?
Most people who are looking for something on the internet go to Google. Of course, there are other search engines that you can use, but their use is tiny in comparison. So all of the work we do regarding being found on the internet is based around Google. If you are getting it right on Google, you are most likely getting it right on the others.
Prominent placement in any search engine makes a massive difference to how much traffic you get, resulting in the potential business you can make. So let’s take a look at the four places where you can be found on Google for free, which also happen to be premium placement.
Not all of the following options appear for every search, as Google will assess what is appropriate. However, it is worth doing a quick check to see which options display for the types of searches your potential customers will make. Then make sure you make efforts to get yourself visible in some of these premium places.
1. Organic search results
The image below shows ad and organic search results on the Google search results page (also known as search engine results page SERP).
Organic results are listings that do not have the ‘Ad’ symbol. Ads are always placed near the top of the page, and the organic results follow after. Most people recognise Ad placements these days and actively avoid them, so being at the top of the organic search results can make the difference between getting nearly 40% of the traffic of all searchers who search. So it is worth making an effort to get to the top of the list.
Hint – to do this, you need to optimise your search engine (SEO).
2. Featured Snippets
The second option to appear on Google for free is through Featured Snippets. These are short pieces of text displayed by Google above all of the organic results. These are often referred to as position zero. For example, the image below shows a featured snippet.
You’ll notice in the image above that in addition to ranking in the top position, the description grabs a large amount of screen space, making it more likely to be clicked on.
3. Google My Business
If you’re a local business, you should recognise Google’s map listings that appear for searches that seem to have ‘local’ intent.
As well as showing a map, you can also have your business appear as a Knowledge Panel local result. The importance of appearing here should not be overlooked, and the small effort of filling in a few fields on Google My Business can really benefit you.
4. Business directories
In addition to Google My Business, you can set yourself up on many online directories that are appropriate for your business. Many of these are free.
Depending on the search being made, Google decides whether to display the directories. This is either in their own block or part of the organic search results. When they are in their own block, they also can be in position zero, so it is well worth being in the directory.
If you do a search that you would expect your customers to make, see what directories are displayed. Once you have your list of directories, start applying to join.
5. Videos on youtube
As Youtube is now part of the Google family, Google is promoting relevant videos in the search results. Again, often before organic search results, but not necessarily before Ads or Featured Snippets.
If you decide to create a Youtube channel and create some videos, this is also an opportunity to build backlinks back to your website, so a win-win.
6. Other people’s websites
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that you don’t have to use your website to get business from Google; you can have a third party website link back to your website and gain traffic from their audience.
In fact, the importance of other links back to your website should not be underestimated, as this is one of the key factors Google uses to work out your website’s ranking position.
What can you do without getting a website?
As you can see from just the six places on Google mentioned above, you can get yourself found on the internet without having a website. Furthermore, these places don’t even begin to look at how you can gain business from social media.
That said, points 1 and 2 require you to have a website. And for another website to direct traffic, that website needs something to link to, which usually involves a link to your website. In addition, to fully complete a directory entry, it is recommended to have a website link, although this is not essential.
So while having a website is not essential, it does help.
If you are not ready or unsure how to build an entire website, it is worth considering creating a holding page. A holding page website is just a one-page website that contains your contact details and a few details about your business.
If you are unsure how to get started, take a look at the first steps to creating a website for your small business to give you an idea of what is required.
If you already know that you don’t want to get involved in the technical details but still want to get a holding page created, we can help. Please take a look at our Holding page web design option.