By Oliver Jones, SCORE Certified Mentor
How do you get your business to show up near the top on internet search engines?
You've created a web site for your business. You've got yourself listed on Google Places. You've put a clear description what you do on the front door page of your site. Your address, phone number, and business hours are shown clearly on your site. Maybe you even have some terrific content on your site explaining how to use your products. Maybe you even have a good review or two on Yelp, and a Facebook page. Good! That's a lot of hard work well done.
And you still aren't showing up on the first page when somebody does a web search. That's frustrating. What do you do now?
Keep in mind that Google and other search engines use proprietary algorithms -- in Google's case it's called Page Rank -- to decide which pages come first in their search results. They do this by guessing which pages will be most useful to people doing searches. Once you've done all the good things mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, you've built a basically useful web page. Now it's time to show the search engines that your web page is credible. You do that by building Citations, that is by getting other web pages to link to your page. Citation-building takes time and effort, but it's worth it in the long haul.
This article by Benjamin Beck in LocalStampede offers a great list of ways to build citations. Benjamin suggests dozens of ideas. You can't possibly do all of them, but you can do a few. This is the sort of thing you should revisit every month or so as you build your business; you'll think of a couple more ways to get people on the internet to acknowledge your business's growing influence in the real world. That influence is what the search engine algorithms are designed to guess.
It takes patience to do this well. For one thing, it takes influence to build influence, so you can't do it overnight. For another thing, search engines only recognize your growing influence slowly: the world-wide web is vast and it takes them weeks to update their indexes. Also, lots of people try to trick the search engines' algorithms. To resist this trickery they respond slowly to new citations. But good stable businesses slowly climb the rankings. Your patience will be rewarded.
Oliver Jones is a certified SCORE mentor and the principal of Plum Island Media.