Simple Ways to Improve Your Google Search Ranking
Gabriel O’Brien is the sales manager at Larry’s Music Center—a small store in a town of 26,000 people, as he put it. And like many small retailers, he wants to build his store’s online presence, starting with Google. At the 2015 NAMM Show, O’Brien shared his process to help fellow retailers get their stores ranking as high as possible on Google.
“When you want new information, how do you find it?” O’Brien asked rhetorically. “You’re going to search for it. You’re missing customers if you don’t use SEO.”
He advised retailers to first Google their store name, see what comes up and build from there. Then, O’Brien outlined the basic ways to improve your store’s Google search results.
Highlights from the video:
Use keywords to optimize your website
He advised the audience to keep in mind how customers approach Google searches, using such general search terms as “music store, city and state,” manufacturer brands or music services. O’Brien suggested that you and your staff make a list of search terms that apply to your store, along with things you want people to know about your store. Then pick keywords to use on your website, including your store name, city, state, marquee brand names and your services. “Use them over and over again,” O’Brien said.
• Target things you want to be found for. Your key goods and services, such as marquee brands.
• Use item and brand names in listing descriptions. Use the actual product name and model number. Supply images, and name each photo with the specific product name. Rewrite manufacturer descriptions for your website—don’t just say “guitar” but refer to the specific brand name and model. Never copy a product description from another store to your website.
• Mention key brands and services. Lessons (e.g., Suzuki Method), band instrument rentals and repairs.
• Mention your store by name. It drives up key recognition listings for your name. Don’t use “our” store.
• Highlight unique things that set you apart. Vintage and used guitars, saxophone lessons—whatever makes your store stand out from other stores.
Get customers for brands you carry
• Create landing pages for marquee brands and services. O’Brien advised having a landing page for each marquee brand you carry, such as Taylor Guitars, and for each of your services, such as repairs and lessons. Make these pages rich with information, and you’re more likely to get customers for these products and services.
• Create home page links to your landing pages. Create text links on your website home page that will take you to specific landing pages you’ve created or even manufacturer websites. Google recognizes any time you drive traffic to your website.
• Point search results within your site to landing pages.
Manage your Google Business listing
O’Brien pointed out that many retailers only have basic websites—or no websites at all. “Small stores don’t do the little things many times that are massively important,” he said. “It might seem overwhelming, or they don’t know how to take the first step. An easy step to take is Google Business.” (Google Business was previously Google Places).
O’Brien stressed that music retailers claim their Google Business listings (and for each location if they have more than one store). Get on Google Business for free, update or create your listing by entering all of your information, and make sure it’s accurate. Include key brands and services in your listing. Link it back to your website. It takes just a little time to manage this basic tool to drive traffic to your website.
Use social media to improve your ranking
Your Google ranking can be boosted by your use of social media, and the additional listings are a great way to drive traffic on your website. O’Brien created and posted a YouTube video about Alvarez guitars and linked it to his company’s website and social media. Anyone googling “Alvarez guitars” and “Ohio” saw both Larry’s Music Center and the YouTube video come up.
“YouTube listings come up high in search results because it’s owned by Google,” he said. “Do a YouTube video, and that can drive customers to you all day long.”
According to O’Brien, Larry’s Music Center sold 150 of the Alvarez ABT60 Baritone guitars in six months because of the YouTube video.
• Claim your business listings on Yelp and Foursquare. It’s important to respond to user reviews.
• Check your basic info on your social media sites.
• Link your social media pages to your website.
• Use links within Facebook and YouTube posts to create traffic. On Facebook, use videos, photos and links to feature your inventory. People will often call about products or a guitar in the background from an in-store photo you’ve featured on your Facebook page.
• Highlight unusual and hard-to-find items.
Make the most impact in 15 minutes a day
Set aside time. “Treat this like it’s anything else in your business day, and don’t do anything else,” said O’Brien, who sets aside uninterrupted time to focus.
• Get your entire staff involved. Find an employee who’s better at it than you are and enjoys it.
• Start with the basics, then get more specific. Check the details such as making sure your store hours are correct on your website and in your listings.
• Work on one thing at a time. One day you might create a landing page, the next day you might work on Google Business. Set the goal and reach it, and you’ll steadily accomplish a lot over time.
• “Once you pick it up, don’t put it down until it’s done.” This is a helpful mantra that works for Larry’s Music Center.
O’Brien commented that he doesn’t pay for any advertising, such as Yellow Pages, and likes to focus on organic searches.
“Do what you can without having to hire outside services,” he said. “If the budget permits, I’d be more likely to pay for Facebook boosts because it’s customer engagement.”