As they relate to online marketing of your business, the terms “visibility” and “findability” really mean one thing; search engine ranking. The more visibility you have and the more findable you are online means that your search engine ranking is good enough to get your business listing and/or information about you displayed at or near the top of search results pages.
Each of the major search engines have sophisticated and proprietary formulas for ranking and displaying search results on their respective results pages. While the exact formulas are closely guarded secrets, most industry experts agree that certain factors are critical to obtaining a high local search engine ranking.
1: List Your Business. Local search results appear on the top of results pages. These search results are pulled from data not only from the search engines own database, but from third party databases as well. Because search engines compare data, it is not enough to simply list your business on Google, Yahoo and Bing and expect to great results. In fact, you may not get results at all. To get results you must ensure your listing is accurate, consistent and submit it to multiple business listing platforms.
2: Use Descriptive Keywords. Keywords are specific words and/or phrases that describe you and you’re business. Keywords are the words that prospective customers may type into the search box of search engines in order to find you. Keywords can be used both within online content and within your enhanced business listing. Consistent use of keywords within content and your business listing can improve your chances of reaching the top of local search results pages.
3: Specific Content. Because search engines love real content, it is important that you have a website and/or online business profile that further describes the products you sell and services your provide. Try to be specific according to brand, size, age, or whatever other criteria you find that people use when they describe your products and services as these descriptions can be used as keywords when they do searches online. If you are not specific, you’ll just be lost among the sea of competitors.
4: Online Reviews. Online reviews are becoming increasingly important to search engine ranking. As mentioned above, search engines collect and compare data not only from their own databases, but from external sources as well. These search engines use web site crawlers that collect and index information. As a result, mentions of your business name in reviews further validates and verifies relevancy for search engines because they are providing content that is valuable to real people. The source of the review is also important. If the review is posted on a site that is respected and the content of the review is relevant to your own information it will help improve your search engine ranking.
5: Referral Links. Incoming links in general are very important when you want to reach the top of the search engine results pages. These links direct search engine spiders and crawlers to your web site or business profile page which helps them recognize that others have considered your website and/or business profile to be a worthwhile resource. This comes back to providing content that is valuable to real people. Similarly to content within reviews, links from respected sites will carry more weight than links from less respected sources.
6. Social Networking. Social media is not just a part of online evolution, it has caused a revolution. Online social networking has changed forever how we interact with each other and search engine ranking is changing right along with it. Google now returns search results that are directly impacted by the social connections of the person doing the searching. What this means for marketers is that their business ranking online will at least to some degree directly related to their social network online. In summary, as the social online experience continues to evolve, if you don’t have a presence online in social networks, you will lose ranking on search engine results pages.