Many small businesses recognized the importance of e-commerce and online marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic — but while having a good-looking website and top-notch social media content may have sufficed during those tough times, business owners now need to get more strategic about their online presence. If you want to make the most of your online presence, leveraging Google is key.
When you begin to focus on search engine optimization (SEO), your efforts can get your website ranking high on search engine results pages, so you win more website visits, leads, and sales. So what is a search engine results page? We’ll define the term, then explain how ranking works.
What Is a Search Engine Results Page?
A search engine results page (SERP) is a web page that appears after you submit a query on Google or any other search engine. SERPs are mainly composed of organic results, which are the web pages that search engine algorithms deem most pertinent to your query. Organic results are listed in order of relevance, which helps users find the information they’re looking for as soon as possible.
SERPs can also contain additional features like:
- Paid ads: Sponsored results that appear above organic results.
- Featured snippets: Highly relevant content (usually no more than a few pages) that’s pulled from a web page and featured at the top of SERPs.
- Local packs: A set of three relevant local business listings featured for searches with local intent (like queries that end with “near me”).
How Do SERP Rankings Work?
Ranking high on organic SERPs is a key goal for many small businesses since it doesn’t involve any recurring costs, and understanding how rankings work is an essential step in achieving these ranking goals.
Search engine algorithms rank web pages based on a long list of factors, which generally indicate your website’s relevancy, quality, and credibility. Some of these factors may include:
- The presence of keywords: If a search term is included in your URL, title tag, meta description, and on-page content, your site may rank higher for that term.
- User interactions: High click-through rates, high dwell times (or time spent on your site), and low bounce rates are all indicators of a quality site.
- Domain age: Websites that have existed longer are often considered more trustworthy by algorithms, and, as such, more deserving of appearing on the SERP than less-trustworthy sites and pages.
- Backlinks: When high-quality websites link to your web pages, you gain backlinks (or inbound links) that tell search engines your site is trusted by others.
These are just a few examples of dozens of ranking factors that search engine algorithms take into account — but they illustrate how SERP rankings aren’t chosen at random.
SEO Strategies to Increase Your Rank
Tapping into SEO tactics can help your website show up on the first page of SERPs. Here are two data-driven tactics that you can implement in your marketing strategy.
Target Niche Keywords
Including relevant keywords on your web pages is one of the most important steps to ranking high on the right SERPs. However, choosing industry keywords at random isn’t always effective. Instead, small businesses may find it more effective to focus on ranking for niche keywords, including long-tail keywords that are more specific (as opposed to general terms like “accounting” or “nail salon”).
To identify niche keywords that you can target, consider using a tool like Google Analytics to collect consumer data and figure out which terms they’re currently using to find your website. Then, do some competitor research to identify the terms they’re ranking for. The insights you gain can help you improve your own keyword strategy, making your SEO tactics more focused and effective.
Once you know your niche keywords, you can use Portent’s Content Idea Generator to generate topic ideas for your blog based on those target search terms.
Track Key Metrics
Trackability is one of the key benefits of going digital with your marketing. When you’re aiming to improve your website’s SERP ranking, tracking metrics can be a powerful way to understand your site’s performance and identify what you need to improve.
To start tracking the right metrics, identify specific business goals. For example, you can aim to increase sales by 40% within a year or decrease lead generation costs by 10% in the next quarter. This will help you set benchmarks, so you know if your strategy is keeping you on the right path toward your goals, or if changes are needed.
Evaluating your digital performance can get tough when your business starts accumulating large amounts of data. However, you can avoid analysis paralysis — which occurs when you over-analyze data in search of meaning — by staying focused on your aforementioned business goals and increasing data visibility with charts or infographics.
Improve Your Rank to Scale Your Small Business
Every digital marketing strategy needs to extend well beyond social media and web design. As more and more consumers use search engines to find businesses, you need to improve your website’s ranking on SERPs to stand out. Capture more clicks and gain more sales by tracking metrics, choosing the right keywords, and getting to know other SERP ranking factors.