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How to Get Your Small Business to Rank Higher on Search Engines

What Google actually uses for its algorithms is top secret stuff, but experts believe there are certain best practices that consistently lead to better results. Get your small business noticed by following these tips for higher rankings.

Sure, there are other search engines out there, but as #1, Google has a market share exceeding 90% when it comes to search. It's only natural that anyone with a website pay attention to the standards of this tech giant if they want a good online reputation.

In fact, it may surprise you to know that the number two search engine is YouTube, which is owned by Google!

This makes it all the more important that you follow Google’s standards for best practices when you maintain your website and online presence–and remember: be careful not to get sneaky with your marketing tactics. Google is known to penalize websites that go the “black hat” route.

Here are some safe tactics that will help get your small retail or hospitality business noticed:

Focus On Keywords

Make sure the terms people are using to search for your business are weaved throughout your website. For sure they need to be on your home page and, if possible, in the title. Using different variations can make sure you hit the key word people are searching for.

Google provides a free keyword analyzer tool that advertisers use. You can use it to find how people search for businesses in your category. Just be careful not to “overstuff” your site with keywords. That would fall in line with the black hat marketing tactics we touched on earlier and could get your domain flagged and penalized by search engines.

Link Building

The more online places that link to your website, the higher you will rank. It’s not just a volume game, however. Links from high quality, high traffic sites will mean more. Government, educational, civic, and news sites tend to rank high in quality and traffic.

This goes in line with educating your audience and offering worthwhile information with the right resources to back it up. For example, if you’re a coffee shop, you could have blogs about the different origins of your coffee and descriptions and histories of each. A good site will hyperlink out text in a new tab to a credible site that verifies their claims. This is a great move if you have partners as each of your websites can link out and build credibility for the other.

Currency & Quality Content

When search engine bots visit your site to index it, they look for new content that didn’t exist last time. Keeping content fresh helps. Produce high-quality content on a regular basis. That’s why so many businesses have blogs and publish thought leadership articles.

For example, if you sell plumbing supplies, articles about how to unclog a sink will help your ranking. Keep a blog or some kind of content platform consistently updated on your site. That will show search engines and customers that you’re still in business, active and going strong. You can tell if a site hasn’t been updated since 2012–and so can search engines!

Get Great Reviews

Google wouldn't be the #1 search engine in the world if it didn't offer up users the best-of-the-best, most relevant results. So if you don't have a good offline reputation with your customers, you'll struggle with your online presence.

Reviews are the equalizer of the online world. And it's proven that businesses that get good reviews are more likely to rank higher on search engines. Using your CRM point of sale integration is a great way to gather data on your patrons so you can solicit reviews from your happy customers. You should promote submitting reviews not only on your Google listing, but on areas like Facebook and Yelp–and other third-party websites like Trustpilot or Angie's List.

Optimize Your Business Listings

Making sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is accurate across different directories and online sites can make a big difference. This means going to different places online to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information. Make sure it is consistent. If you have different locations, list them all. Make sure you include contact information and hours you are open for business.

In particular, make sure the information about your business in Google My Business is accurate and detailed. This plays an important role in search rankings.

Send Social Signals

Whether you like social media or not, it plays an important role in search rankings. In addition to sending links to your website (and potentially business to your door), many people do their searches right on Facebook. Also, search engines will look for engagement on social sites as a popularity signal. Social media is a great way to publish and post the fresh blogs on your site as well, which will in turn drive more traffic to your site.

Make It Mobile

If your website is not mobile-optimized, you will be penalized by search engines. That’s because the majority of people doing a search are now doing it on mobile devices. As such, the search engines want to provide results that provide the best mobile experience.

Rank Higher In Local Search

For brick and mortar locations that encourage customers to come to their physical store, there’s nothing more important than ranking high in local search. Whether customers type a search entry and add “near me” at the end or a city name, local search is the dominant way people search. Studies show as many as 82% of consumers do local searches.

If you want your small business to rank higher in local search results, there are two ways to attack this. When you go to the search listings, you’ll see the paid search results at the top of the page. Below that is the “Local Pack” or “Map Pack” which lists local businesses. Below that are the organic listings.

The Local Map Pack

For the map pack, here are the top 5 signals that make up the rankings, according to Moz:

Google My Business: Keywords in title, location to search, categories of business

Links: Inbound links to your website, domain authority of the sites, and the number of links

Reviews: Quantity and quality of reviews, diversity of reviews, and recency of reviews

On-Site: Presence of Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP), keywords, and domain authority

Citation: Consistent NAP across online sites and directories, number of times business is cited online

Other ranking signals that play a role include behavioral signals (click through rate and click to call), personalization (uniqueness of site and content), and social signals (engagement on Facebook and other social media.

Local Organic Rankings

When people talk about achieving the #1 spot on the first page of search results, they are talking about the number one local organic ranking.

Here are the top 5 signals that make up the local organic rankings:

Links: Inbound links to your website, domain authority of the sites, and the number of links

On-Site: Presence of Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP), keywords, and domain authority Behavioral: Mobile clicks to call, click-through-rate from links

Google My Business: Keywords in title, location to search, categories of business

Citation: Consistent NAP across online sites and directories, number of times business is cited online

Other ranking signals that play a role include personalization, reviews, and social signals such as engagement on Facebook and other social media.

Search Can Get Them To Your Door…

…but once they get there, it's up to you to keep them coming back. You need efficient business and operations systems in order to take care of your customers. Even for small businesses, the days of doing everything manually are over. A POS (Point of Sale) software system typically serves as the hub of your operations especially if you are in the hospitality industry.

Point Of Sale Hardware And Point Of Sale Software

POS hardware and POS software provide benefits in every aspect of your business. In addition to speeding up transactions, your POS handles a number of tasks that make your business more efficient. A retail point of sale system will have expanded payment capabilities to include EMV chips in credit cards, NFC (contactless mobile payments), and mobile wallets including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay. The right POS will give hospitality and restaurant business's options to offer online conveniences like delivery and online ordering which are MAJOR players in Google rankings

You will have greater accuracy because it eliminates much of the manual keypunch you had to do in the past. In addition, your retail POS can handle inventory management. Each time a sale is made, it provides a current inventory count down to the ingredient level, which is helpful for restaurants and bars.

A cloud-based POS can eliminate much of the hardware and IT costs associated with other systems. A point of sale provider can set up your cloud-based POS system to work in-store. It can allow for tablet POS systems to allow servers or employees to enter orders or make purchases anywhere in the store.

For those with multiple locations, a cloud-based POS system can provide data insights and reporting for single locations or roll-up reporting. In addition, you will be able to monitor KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to help make business decisions.

Help Customers Find You, Keep Them Coming Back

If you don’t have the right POS system in place to help you knock it out of the park when customers show up to your door, you won't keep them coming back. And worse, bad reviews and a poor presence on the web can keep them from ever trying out your brick and mortar establishment in the first place.

If you’re ready to get noticed online and in-store, contact Epos Now for a free, 15-minute demo of our software.


Epos Now

The 46th fastest growing company in the U.K., Epos Now is an award-winning POS company trusted by over 30,000 businesses in 109 countries worldwide.The mission of Epos Now is to provide affordable, robust and scalable POS solutions in a user-friendly platform that integrates seamlessly with hundreds of the world’s best third-party solutions, delivering next-level hospitality and retail management for small businesses.

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