Can I really rank on page one of Google without a website?

Graham Buchanan
Graham Buchanan

Believe it or not you can! Particularly if your business is local like a restaurant or a hairdresser.

Getting customers in an industry as competitive as these, however, comes with a number of unique challenges. One of these challenges is the growing expectation of consumers being able to access information about your services online. So being present online is essential to your success.

Here’s the problem: you have a million and one other tasks on your plate (pun fully intended). You have to prepare the menu, negotiate with suppliers, hire the right personnel, and make sure everything is in pristine condition. With your energy divided into all areas of your business, you don’t have time to tend to a website and market it effectively.

Can you get by without a website in this digital age? Can your customers still find you in search engines?

We’ve got some good, and some not so good news for you. Ultimately, we recommend you have a website - your own asset that you own in the online world. However, in the short term it is still possible to rank on page one of a Google search even if you don’t have your own website.

Want to know how?

It’s all about understanding local search engine optimisation.

How to build a strong local SEO campaign for your business

Increased competition in the restaurant industry means you need to focus on the unique things you can offer your audience, and one of these things is proximity. It makes sense. No one wants to drive 20 miles to eat a delicious dinner or get their hair done. People want to find the best places that are closest to them. OK, you can’t change your business’s physical location, but you can influence other factors that drive your prospects’ searches and make you a top ranking business in your area.

Setting up a local SEO campaign is quite a practical and straightforward process. However you do need to know your ABCs of local search and use the proper tools to make it effective. You don’t necessarily need an amazing website (or a website at all!), as long as you stay on the top of Google’s search results with the strategies below.

Let’s take a look at how you can make it happen.

Start by setting up Google My Business

According to Google: “Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.”

Numerous studies quote Google My Business as the number one source of traffic for local businesses. So, it’s paramount that you learn how to set it up correctly.

Let’s take your restaurant business as an example. Firstly, people will need to find your location and physically come to you (or at least be close by if you only deliver within a certain radius). Secondly, you will have plenty of competitors, so you need to optimise your Google My Business page to perfection.

Make sure that you meet Google’s quality guidelines. In other words, it’s vital that you understand what it takes to create a good listing and the information Google wants to see.

Take a few minutes to read the guidelines and learn about how to verify your location and represent your restaurant business accurately. Once you have a good understanding of Google’s requirements, it’s time to choose the right category for your business. Be very careful with this selection since the classification you pick will influence every Google search from now on. For example, if “family restaurant” fits your business better than “Italian restaurant,” then that’s the category you should pick.

Step 2: Complete Your Business Listing

If you want to make your restaurant listing attractive to both search engines and your audience, then you need to complete it thoroughly.

Here’s the thing: Google will always give preference to the listing that offers more information. Plus, searchers will also be inclined to pick the business that provides as many details as possible. Don’t just fill out the basics, such as your address, business hours or phone number. Include special hours, photos, a link to your menu, the type of payment you accept, and so on.

Step 3: Make It a Presentation, Not a Spectacle

Your Google My Business page is not the place to show-off, or use tricks from your marketing magic bag. Present your business professionally and offer valuable insights that will convince customers to choose you over your competitors. Help your prospects see the good things they can find at your restaurant. For example, don’t forget to mention your garden terrace or special pancake recipe that everybody loves. You can do so through photos, videos, or stories. A media enriched page will look more attractive to searchers than one that provides just the basic information.

Step 4: Engage with Your Existing Customers

Customer reviews are another important factor people take into consideration when choosing a local restaurant from a search – plus they help with your Google ranking. Take care of your existing customers and always be prompt in responding to their feedback. Encourage reviews and let them speak for themselves.

According to a recent study, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Use this to your advantage and don’t hesitate to ask for feedback from your loyal customers. Your customers can see a selection of reviews directly from a Google search. The visibility and accessibility of these reviews makes them a key component to your local SEO strategy.

Don’t stop at Google

Don’t stop at Google to make your local business relevant in search results. Make sure you know which other sites your audience use to look for recommendations in your niche. For example you could build your business page on specialized websites like TripAdvisor or Yelp, as they will often appear in Google search results too. Use their established traffic and audience to show up on page one without your own physical website.

Use geotags on your images

Here’s a smart trick to bring even more customers to your business page from a Google search. Put some time into creating a small database of visual resources such as location-based pictures of your restaurant, happy customers, eye-catching visuals of your menu items… anything you can think of.

When you are uploading an image of your restaurant to Flickr, Picasa or other image platforms, fill in the tags with your location and other keyword-rich information. That way, you increase the chances that your restaurant will show up on the first page of Google. Preferably with a beautiful looking visual of your signature dish!

Geotagging your images is not a difficult process, and it will improve your local SEO significantly, so take full advantage of it.

Connect social media accounts to your business page

As mentioned before, it helps if you combine multiple online sources that point to your business page, so you cover as much virtual ground as possible – without having a website. Be on Facebook, Instagram or FourSquare and always mention your business page in your profile descriptions. This way, you gain additional exposure and get more referral traffic to your page. The more people that see your business page on Google, the more likely Google is to show it to other searchers because they perceive it as interesting and relevant. It’s a win-win.

Conclusion

Having a professional-looking website and optimising it to perfection isn’t the only way to rank high in Google. It may sound odd, but as we’ve demonstrated above, local SEO matters just as much (or even more sometimes) than having a website for your local business.

Of course if all this sounds a bit daunting, you can always call in the experts to help you!

For more information call 01323 724159, email graham@wsileadingwebdevelopment.co.uk or visit www.wsileadingwebdevelopment.co.uk