To put it simply: Google is amazing. No matter what you’re looking for, from “why are dogs and cats always fighting?” to “where can I buy a green toaster in Manitoba?”, Google can find a list of potential—and often great—answers within seconds.

However, Google really comes into its own when used as a lead generation tool. For example, if you’re a small business that actually does happen to sell green toasters in Manitoba, Google means opportunity. If you can get your small business website to consistently show up when consumers search for your products, you’ll have an extremely good chance of turning these warm, active searchers into closed sales.

In other words, Google is good for business… really good.

But how do you make that happen? What steps do you need to take in order to give your small business a prominent place in search results? And, once they’ve found you through Google, how can you convert that lead into a sale?

In this article, we’ll help you get an edge with 10 powerful techniques for getting better, higher-quality traffic from Google search. Let’s start right now with our top tip: getting a mobile website.

#1 Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly

Google’s goal is to find valuable websites that will be helpful to people using the search engine. In order to rank above other results, your website needs to be deemed more “helpful” or “valuable”. The algorithm that Google uses to determine this is a closely-guarded secret. They rarely release information about how it works, or the factors that go into calculating which search results will be the most relevant.

However, in November of 2016, Google did exactly that.

In a change to their algorithm, Google announced that companies with a mobile-friendly website now show up higher in results than those without. This is big news for small businesses who want to rank competitively against other results in the search engine.

Use this free tool to check if your website is mobile-friendly. If it’s not, you’re likely missing out on a huge opportunity.

Furthermore, not only do mobile-friendly site get more love from Google, they’re also more necessary now than ever before. In 2014, mobile users surpassed desktop users for the very first time:

So even if showing up in Google isn’t your goal, a mobile-friendly website is still an essential for building an effective presence on the web. And that’s why having a mobile website makes it to our top tip.

However, if you are looking to rank in Google’s search results, tip number two is just as critical. Keep reading to learn how you can talk to Google and get them to include you in their index.

#2 Talk to Google

Because of the way the world wide web is structured, there’s no single, definitive list of every website in the world. What’s more, without smart algorithms and categorization, it would be impossible to know what each website does, even if you did have that list.

That’s why Google works so well. When you type, “Carhartt boots size 11 tan” into Google, the search engine looks through its index and tries to find the most relevant website. But how do they know which websites to look at? And how can they tell what each site does?

To help Google make a decision, you can submit your website to them. They’ll add you to their index and their computer programs (called spiders) will crawl your site to try and figure out what you do. All that information is then stored in their index so they can quickly provide the most relevant results to searchers.

However, you can go a step beyond simply submitting your website to Google. If you provide them with a sitemap (a list of pages on your website) the search engine can get a more accurate idea of what you do, provide, and sell.

This makes it far more likely that your company will show up when people search for your products. And according to the most recent data, if your business can show up first for a search term, it will receive the lion’s share (24% or more) of all incoming search traffic.

To submit your website to Google’s index, click here. Then, follow this guide to learn how to build and submit a sitemap.

When you’re finished, come back to this article and learn why accurate information is key to driving sales-friendly traffic from Google search.

#3 Keep Your Information Up to Date!

When people arrive at your current website, what will they find? Is your phone number, address, and contact information correct?

Remember, when users search for something, Google wants to provide the most relevant, high-quality results possible. The accuracy (and existence) of your contact information is considered a “ranking signal,” or a variable in determining the quality of your site.

If your information is out-of-date, incorrect, or incomplete, your small business website could be deemed less helpful to Google’s users— suffering a lower ranking as a result. Instead, the search engine prefers to see sites with an “appropriate amount of contact information.”

Double check right now— is your website up to date? What could be improved? Is there more information you could provide that would be helpful to your users? Consider the effect that incorrect information can have on your website visitors (not just your search engine rankin). Studies show that 73% of customers lose trust in businesses who have misleading or inaccurate information on their sites. Yikes!

One you’ve had chance to review your site, let’s learn how to improve calls to action in tip #4.

#4 Help Your Users with Location-Based CTAs

A call to action (CTA) is any button, text, or call-out on your site that asks users to do something specific. You may have something on your site that says, “buy now” or “visit our store for more details”. It’s the text equivalent of a salesman asking you if you’d like to follow him to the register— will that be cash or card today?

When users find your site in Google, there’s a good chance they’re ready to buy. Think about it, anyone searching “kayak yellow 16 feet $1000 or less Calgary” is in a particularly purchase-friendly mood. Once they land on your site, you’ll want to make your CTA as clear and easy-to-understand as possible.

One of the best ways to do this is with a map, directions, and store hours. This gives your site visitors all the information they need to make a purchase decision.
NOTE: work with a developer, and you can also provide turn-by-turn directions from mobile users’ current locations— now that’s great web design!

The next best option is a “click-to-call” CTA. This is where you provide your phone number on your site—preferably with the text, “call now”—but you make one powerful tweak. Make the phone number a clickable button that, when triggered, will dial your business. If your users are on their mobile device, they’ll have instant access to you and your sales team.

Look over your own website. How easy is the path from Google search result to completed purchase? How could you make it easier?

When you’re ready, come back to this article and we’ll talk about making your website more Google-friendly using keywords.

#5 Add Relevant Keywords to Your Product Descriptions

Remember in tip #2 when we talked about, “spiders”? These are the bots that Google uses to quickly gather information about websites on the world wide web. Consider these spiders your allies. To improve your search engine ranking, you’ll want to provide them with as much information as possible. And as a small business, your go-to place to do this should be your products’ descriptions.

Spiders crawl (look at) the text you’ve included on your website (think: product descriptions, titles, body copy, etc.). Everything they discover is then linked back to Google and helps them provide better search results. Help them do their job by putting yourself in your potential customers’ shoes: what kind of search terms are they likely to use? How does your average customer describe your products?

Once you’ve come up with a good list of relevant keywords, add them to your website’s product pages in order to give Google plenty of information to work with. However, keep in mind that optimizing your product pages is a pretty large topic and deserves more attention than we can devote in a single article. For more information, try reading through this fantastic guide to product pages.

When you’re done, continue on to tip #6 and let’s talk promos!

#6 Drive Traffic with Promotions

Discounting your products, releasing one-time offers, or offering digital coupon codes are just a few ways to entice customers to buy. But did you know they can be highly effective for improving your Google ranking?

It all comes down to Google’s algorithm and the way they choose which pages will be most valuable to searchers. One of the factors included in this algorithm is known as, “dwell time”.

For the purposes of this article, we can think of dwell time as the time a user spends on your site. If they leave a Google search results page, spend a half second on your site, and then come back looking for another result— that reflects poorly on your site.

However, if a user lands on your site, notices a great deal/promotion, and sticks around or contacts you, your website could potentially get a boost in future searches.

Try to make your promotions clear, compelling, and hard to resist. One easy way to get more engagement from your promos is to include an expiry date. This added sense of urgency can be all it takes to push a user to contact you or buy a product.

Now you have a new customer and better search ranking. High five!

#7 Write More Content

Providing information to Google spiders is a fantastic way to ensure you’re found by the search engine. However, once you’ve finished optimizing your product descriptions (see tip number #5) what can you do next? Where else could you be providing keywords and info?

A great tactic for increasing the information available to Google is to create content. Lots of it.

This could be in the form of blog articles, editorial pieces, industry news, product reviews, how-to guides— you name it!

Whatever you decide to write about, try to keep it relevant to what you do as a business. Just like with your product descriptions, you’ll want to include keywords that you expect your potential customers to use when they search for your products.

Oh, and when we say, “write” we mean it. Creating video content and images can be a great strategy for getting social media traffic (visual content is more shareable). However, to improve your search engine traffic, written content is king. Remember, Google’s spiders can’t see images or watch videos (yet). So to help them out, you’ll want to write relevant articles that give them a good idea of your industry, products, and expertise.

#8 Content Categorization

Yet another way to help Google as they crawl your site, is to make your site as simple as possible. Content should be categorized so it’s easy to find— both for users, and search engine spiders.

To do this, picture a typical navigation bar that you would find on most small business websites. There’s usually a link for the home page, about us, contact page, blog, and products or services pages. The rest of the content on the site should fall somewhere under these categories.

By keeping a clear categorization scheme, your site is easier for Google’s robots to crawl and gives them plenty of information about how your site is structured.

#9 Build Some Links!

One of the absolute, hands-down, off the charts, best ways to get more love from Google (better rankings) is to get other websites to link to you.

A link from another website tells Google that your content is valuable, helpful, and high-quality. The more links you have from other high-quality sites, the greater your potential for outranking other search results.

Of course, the hard part about this tactic is getting links from other sites. At a minimum, make sure you’ve linked to your website from your business’ social media pages. Then, try manually reaching out to other websites in your industry to see if they might link to your site.

#10 Pay For Reliable Traffic with Adwords

Until now, all of our top tips have been free or inexpensive tactics. And, like anything free, you get what you pay for. In this case, putting any of the previous nine tips into practice will take time and energy.

However, if you want to skip the effort, Google will actually let you pay for a better search engine ranking using their ad platform, Google Adwords.

Put simply, Adwords is the only way to get reliable, steady traffic from Google search. With Adwords, you’ll choose which keywords you want to rank for and the amount of money you’re comfortable paying.

If you place a higher bid (agree to pay more) than your competitors, your ad will be given a prominent position above the real search results (called organic results).

In addition to guaranteeing your top spot, Adwords gives you an extra advantage. By advertising with Google, you can choose what your Google search result will look like. Customize the title, text, and the link that users are taken to in order to maximize it’s effectiveness.

#11 Bonus Tip: Automate Everything

This article was submitted by ShopToIt, an automated marketing platform for small businesses. Through their Google QuickStart program, small business owners across Canada can access everything they need to begin showing up in Google; including a Google-approved mobile website, search-engine-friendly product pages (created and updated automatically), and even a fully automated Google Adwords campaign guaranteed to send you at least 55 warm leads… all for just $100.

Click here to learn more about automating your digital marketing with the Google Quickstart program.