Thinking about how to get top of Google for free, you need to recognise the truth. The Fire & Security niche is very competitive and, for many of the most obvious keywords, you can't get to the top of Google for free. There are always people willing to pay top dollar to display their ad in that coveted position.
However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to get to the top wherever you can!
That means we need to start at the beginning with what most people see as the first step of getting onto the internet.
Building a website. Obviously, that's not exactly free... but, since it is a fundamental part of your marketing arsenal, you should already have that!
For many Fire & Security companies, there are two things that happen after you have launched a website - neither of which will get you to the top of Google.
Most of the Fire & Security installers that we have met are using a tactic called Hope Marketing. That's because their web designer told them: 'If you Build It, They Will Come'.
But, unlike Kevin Costner and the Field of Dreams, Google is not such a rewarding mistress. It will require significant further effort on your part.
Many designers think it is enough to develop a website full of pretty pictures with generic content that says the same as all your local competitors. There will be nothing to make you stand out and no relevant content or clues for Google to understand what you do.
Sadly, you're both just HOPING that:
This tactic is not going to get you very far at all.
Over the last decade, I have met numerous Fire & Security directors with websites that cost lots of money but which generate very few customers. It's because no one actually knows the website exists.
You see, they're not showing on Google's First Page... or even the first five pages... but the director and his installers continue to hope that some new jobs will come in!
And hopeful business executives who have no customers can be vulnerable to the persuasive sales talk of the passing SEO consultant, who will insist that, for a small monthly fee, he can get their website on the first page of Google without any effort from the business at all.
These are the people who put burglar alarms in Town1, burglar alarms in Town2, burglar alarms in Town3 at the bottom of all your pages or list you in spammy link building directories around the world. Both of these contravene Google's terms and conditions and are more likely to get you kicked off the front page of Google. Or worse... consigned to the sandbox beyond the tenth page for a very long time.
And then there are the Optimistic Optimisers who throw hundreds of alarm- and CCTV-related keywords into the meta data for each of their pages. But then they don't actually do anything with the content on the page itself.
If there is no correlation in Google's eyes between what is in the meta data and what is on the webpage, that makes her distrust your site. And suspicion won't help her to put you to the top of her search results.
So if neither of these methods will get you to the top of Google, what can you do?
To ensure that we all understand the basic concept, I will explain – apologies if I’m teaching grandma to suck eggs with anyone but it’s important that everyone knows the basics.
The Top of Google is the first page of the results which that search engine has gathered in response to a specific search query.
So, for example, someone searches for burglar alarm installers in Town1. Google will produce a list of what she believes to be the 10 most relevant results to give you the answers you require. These pages are called SERPS – search engine results pages.
Some of the entries will be Google Ads - these are always at the top and many national security companies will pay to occupy these for LOCAL searches.
Some of the entries will be local Google My Business map listings.
Some of the entries will be shops where people can buy burglar alarm equipment.
And some of the entries will be links from local burglar alarm installers.
Well when you're doing a search on Google, do you go beyond page 1? Would you go further than page 2 to find the answer to your question?
Google Adwords - Some of the entries will be Google Ads - these are always at the top and many national security companies will pay to occupy these for LOCAL searches = paid.
Google My Business Maplisting - the top 3 local Google My Business map listings that are either closest to where you are searching or which provide the best information for the search that you have made = free.
Google Shopping - Some of the entries will be shops where people can buy burglar alarm equipment = paid.
Organic listings - the pages and posts that are the most relevant to burglar alarm installers from websites that Google trusts to give the most up to date information and the best user experience = free.
Since we're talking about how to get to the top of Google for free, I won't go into detail about paying for Google AdWords.
Some years ago, Google realised that local people like to buy from businesses that are situated within five miles of their own location. So it started to give away FREE mini-websites to local businesses and displayed the top 7 best ones for any search.
More recently, this has become a 3-Pack which shows up most prominently on mobile phones. Now that almost everyone has a computer at the end of their arm these map listings are crucial. If you are a business that works with customers at your storefront or at their home, you should get yourself a Google My Business maplisting. This is the easiest way to get to the top of Google for free! For a local search for your product or service.
Along with a large number of undisclosed factors, they look at the way you've filled out your entry. Make sure you complete all the sections carefully and fully. Categories, services, hours of business, locations covered, photographs, videos. You should be aiming to get the marker to 100% complete.
Proximity to the centroid – now just because you think you're in the middle of town doesn't mean that you will get position A. Google has some very strange ideas about where the centroid is for some areas.
Website – Google also looks at your website because it knows it can tell whether you are a trustworthy source – Content, Backlinks, Activity, age of domain that type of thing.
Reviews – if you can get happy customers to leave you a Google My Business review either from their PC or their mobile phone, it all counts towards your trust and reliability in Google's eyes.
Citations on Local Listing Directories like Thomson Local, Free Index, Hotfrog. If you've taken the trouble to enter your business in these free listings, it's a sign to Google that you're a business that actually exists and will provide relevant information for their local searches. Make sure the Name Address and Phone number are entered in exactly the same format as in your GMB Page. Encourage your customers to review you there as well as on your GMB map listing. This all helps to build authority in Google's eyes.
And the Domain Authority of these local listing sites can help to push your free entry onto the front page of Google for certain search terms.
As I said earlier, your Map listing is dependent upon the domain authority of your website so you need to work hard here. Great content that attracts your ideal customer to your site and is also published on social media to gain views. Plus backlinks built carefully in all the right places - local listing directories, press releases, complementary websites, forum and blog post comments, etc., etc.
It's not easy to get top of the organic listings and it will definitely cost you in time and effort. But it can be done for free with a carefully-thought-out plan... in certain niches. The more competitive the niche, the harder it will become to get onto the front page, let alone to the top.
People like video! YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Some people will search YouTube for the information they need rather than Google. For some search terms Google will display video in the organic listings. You should make sure that you use video as well as publishing word content on your website.
Social Media has been recognised by Google as the delivery system for great content. It's the driving force which directs traffic back to your website, which is why I always go on about social media and using all the tools that we have been given to promote our content and bring visitors onto the site - not the other way around.
But, from an SEO perspective, there's no doubt about it, Facebook has huge domain authority which means that Facebook Business Pages which have keywords in their URL and their descriptions can get onto the front page. It used to be the same for real-time Twitter. Tweets because they wanted to encourage current relevance.
LinkedIn Company Pages can also rank for Google searches for less competitive keywords so it's a really good idea to optimise these.
Most importantly, backlinks from all these social profiles give your website a great boost in Google's eyes.
"But I'm already on the front page of Google."
If you knew how often I've heard that said... and then I do the search from my computer and they're nowhere to be seen.
Today's browsers – Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera – they're all very clever. They want to provide you with what you want seamlessly. So, if you regularly look at a certain page in response to a particular search term, they remember that. They also take into account where you are and give you the most local results. So someone in Glasgow will see different results to someone in Birmingham – unless they have added a geo modifier to their search term – in Leigh on Sea.
So, the next time you make a search they will take all that into account and produce the pages that you like seeing – a personalised SERPs. That's often how your website can end up on the front page of Google for you... but not for me... or any other potential customer who does not know you exist.
The best way to check your website's real position is to use a tool that excludes your previous preferences and your location.
Get an independent viewpoint for specific keywords and locations here.
Images – if you've got images of your bellboxes, control panels and cameras, keyword them up and put them on your website, GMB page and local listings.
News – if you've got something newsworthy - eg, you've provided the intruder and fire alarm systems for a big, wellknown building or you've won a security industry award - shout about it with press releases and a page meta data title that says news
It’s no good thinking "Build It and they will come" and hoping for the best, you have to be proactive.
Consistently create content that helps Google to match searches to your answers.
Answer the questions that your ideal customers are asking.
Make your website an online resource for your industry.
Continally updating your website with great content to attract more visitors through search and then backlinks, backlinks, backlinks and, better still, authority backlinks.
These can be gained through related or complementary websites, blog comments, reviews, forums, bookmarking, online articles, press releases, local listing directories, industry specific directories, blog posts, social network profiles – they all count.
Your website becomes the central hub of an ever growing universe of approval showing Google that you are the most relevant source of information for a selection of specific keywords
SEO is an ongoing challenge, the more competitive the niche, the more work you have to do… and keep on doing... especially if you have SEO savvy competitors.
Keywords – Optimisation – Content - Sharing - Backlinks
It's how to get top of Google for free.
But, of course, being top doesn't necessarily mean you get more work. You know what makes you different from your local installation competitors. But would your prospects know that from the words on your website? If you''re not getting the leads you need, something needs to change.
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Try this easy to use checklist contains simple improvements you can make straight away.
Combined, these will help you generate more of the right website traffic and leads, as well as more customers from your sales efforts.
What are you waiting for?