Improving your appearance on Google is one of the most important and rewarding tasks you can do for your business. But many business owners either don’t know how or are not interested in doing it themselves.

And so they leave it on the to-do list, lonely and unfinished.

Why is this? People often know the importance of SEO, search engine optimization, but they consider it a distraction from actually running their business — whether that business is selling widgets, designing sneakers, or closing housing contracts.

And when they do know that it’s something they ought to do, they often wonder how difficult, time consuming, expensive, or measurable the reward is.

Most owners are able to speak clearly about the business they do and traditional avenues they go through in order to find their audiences. They can also speak to the objectives they want to achieve. But when I ask business owners their marketing strategies in search engines, I get silence, or occasionally an acknowledgement that they aren’t doing enough.

Not knowing how the search engines find businesses doesn’t mean business owners are helpless. They need not stare hopelessly, doe-eyed into the Google (and Bing and Yahoo) abyss.

There are providers like me who can take the steps to improve a company’s positioning without it being a huge and costly project. Small business owners don’t need a lot of flashy language and expensive proposals to improve their search engine results.

When I speak of value, I don’t just mean return on investment. I consider the value of my service to be helping entrepreneurs and small businesses in an area where they aren’t the professional. And in the process, I am helping them to create more opportunity for themselves.  I don’t measure that only in hard dollars, but in helping business owners do the work they want to do.

Making money is important, entirely vital even, to maintaining and growing a business, but most people start and operate businesses because they want to provide a service or product that helps other people do what they want and need to do.

And that’s where I come in. I help companies be seen so that owners can provide services and products they want to offer. So here are four steps that I do to help businesses get on Google, one is on their own site and three are on Google.

These are four steps to improving your company’s appearance on Google:

1) Make sure your website is readable to search engines.

Set up the administrative side of the site so that search engines can scan for meta data like title tags, image and video descriptions, and keywords, and avoid duplicative pages and broken internal links.

2) Claim your business on Google.

Google helps you claim your site in their records to establish you as a legitimate company. This is a matter of identifying for Google whether you’re brand or a brick-and-mortar shop, and establishing a page within Google that links to your site so that Google knows whether to literally put you on the map or otherwise make you available to the millions of people who don’t know the name of your company but are looking for the services you provide.

2) Verify your site with Google and add a site map for Google to see how it operates.

The Google Search Console allows companies to verify that their site is a legitimate business and helps business understand how Google reads their site. It’s vital to helping sites perform better in Google by giving Google the tools to access content, crawl new content, monitor content for accurate returns to search queries, safeguard against disruptions like spammers, and demonstrate whether your site has errors preventing it from working well on mobile, for instance.

3) Find like-minded communities on Google+.

Once you claim your business and acquire a Google+ page, you’ve opened the door for people to find you. And those who are browsing through Google+ are probably people who share interests and passions. Last month, Google+ changed its look to encourage a bigger focus on collections and communities. These groupings are effectively virtual places where people of like mind immerse themselves in a pool of shared interests.

Participating on them is up to you, but it’s also a valuable tool for making sure you’re in with the right crowd, and communicating with people who could be a good source for business or referrals.

Meantime, Google+ is a good way to get followers to visit your site. The best way to keep potential customers up to date is to post content from your site to your Google+ page, ultimately encouraging them to come back to your website to see more. When interested audiences go to your site and look around, that gives Google the signals it needs to know that you provide quality information for people searching the terms that they used to find and click onto your site. And that ultimately improves your ranking on search.

While some of these tasks can be accomplished pretty easily, none of the steps toward improving one’s appearance will be wrapped up in a matter of minutes. Building a presence on Google is time-consuming, in fact, and the pay-off comes too slowly for some, but when your site is firing on all cylinders and the legwork is complete so that Google can identify your business as a source for customers, it enables owners to concentrate on the business of their business with greater efficiency and reward.

And that’s one area where I think I can help business owners spend time on their business while benefiting from the digital marketplace.
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