How scrappy businesses outrank their competitors on Google

What are the two priorities for most businesses nowadays? Number one is to make profit yes, obviously. The second one is in most cases to get as many visitors as possible on their website. If you hope to find your website on Google’s first page just because its nice design and you products/services, you’ll end up disappointed. You need a solid strategy to boost your website visibility. And this is exactly what we’re going to talk about here.

Understand how Google Search works

First thing first, Google’s search engine is incredibly complex and its algorithm changes over 500 times a year. Yes, there’s no typo here, five hundred times. With that said, let’s look at how Google ranks websites and pages. 

Google uses bots to find and index websites and pages. Once indexed, the goal is to deliver the most relevant content to specific searches. Google rewards websites that offer great user experience and content as they want users to find and click on websites they love. But what does it mean?

About the user experience first. A website with a slow page load will be penalized, while websites that can load pages extremely fast will be ranked higher. Another important element is user security. Again, Google is all about making sure users land on great websites. That’s why websites using an SSL certificate – which protects users data – get better organic results. 

When it comes to content, your website needs to provide valuable information to its audience. More to come on that in the next part, but essentially you need to invest time and effort in creating and updating your content. This is often overlooked and yet represents one of the best ways to feature on Google’s first page.

Geolocation is another criterion used by Google to rank websites. By accessing your location, search engines show first businesses that are close by. In the example above, I typed in “barber shop” in Google. As you can see, the results on the first page are only businesses in Toronto. And these include organic, localized, and paid listings.

By checking the quality, security, and location, Google can show relevant businesses. There are lots of other elements to take into account here but at least you have an overview of how it works. 

Create valuable content to generate organic traffic

“Content is king”, you’ve probably heard this saying before. In the marketing context, this has never been truer. As an indicator, in 2019 marketers rank content marketing as the top activity that will have the biggest impact on their near future. So what is content marketing all about and how does it help your business rank higher on Google?

In a recent post, we explained that content marketing, unlike traditional marketing, is educational. Its goal is to provide relevant and valuable information to users. And if you remember, coincidentally this is what Google Search – and by consequences SEO –  is also about. Another way to look at it, SEO makes demands and Content provides the offer. 

When search engines crawl websites, they look for content that they can offer to their users. For you, it means you need to position your content (pages, videos, articles) to meet specific search queries related to your business. One tip I want to share here, don’t overlook your pages and images title/description. Search engines don’t know how to read images other than by looking at their description. These are short descriptions you need to add when you upload an image onto your website to describe what it is about. 

Your page titles and descriptions are also valuable not only to boost your ranking but also your click rate (number of clicks per impression). 

The two examples above show you exactly what a good and bad use of page title and description looks like. First, Pizza Pizza. Their page title only contains their brand. While some may argue that they keep it simple, it is a missed opportunity for them to deliver additional value. Mamma’s Pizza, on the other hand, does a decent job at selling their product by highlighting the quality. 

When it comes to the page description, I don’t think anyone would argue that Pizza Pizza here is doing well. It’s cut out, with no real information to invite users to click on the listing. Mamma’s Pizza here nails it. In two lines, they tell you that they’ve been around for 60+ years and what type of food they serve and where. Mamma’s Pizza 2 – Pizza Pizza 0.

Be strategic with your content

Remember when we said that SEO was the demand and content the supply? It’s true but only if you know what demand you need to go after. That’s where keywords become valuable. These are specific words and terms that you identify to be used by potential customers online. 

If you’re Mamma’s Pizza, some obvious keywords are ‘pizza’, ‘Italian food’, and ‘delivery food’. If you’re a small business it is more challenging to compete with more established institution for those short phrases. My advice here is to target longtail phrases. These ones are longer and more specific queries your users also search online. For example, ‘thin crust Italian pizza’ or ‘vegan pizza Toronto’. There’s less competition for specific phrases. And less competition means more opportunities for your brand.

Once you identify these keywords, you can then start creating content around these phrases. And no, this doesn’t mean using a keyword over and over again on a page. You will get better results from search engines, and save your visitors’ sanity. You won’t see instant results as content and SEO pay off in the long-run. For short-term results, paid ads are your solution.

Use paid ads for quick and targeted results

Using paid ads help you compete with any other brand out there. No matter how big they are, you can still have your website listed above them if you are willing to pay for it. The first screenshot in this article just shows how a typical search engine page looks like nowadays. Paid listings blend in nicely and are ranked first.

The two most tactics to use are what we call ‘prospecting’ and ‘retargeting’ ads. Prospecting ads refer to those targeting your audience that may or may not be aware of your brand/products/services and you want to drive to your website. Retargeting is a way to drive your audience back to your website after they browsed your site. The latter works nicely when coupled with an offer or highlighting a specific product. 

Both prospecting and retargeting can be done on different channels – search engines being only one of them. Banners on other websites, social media, mobile apps; they can all be used to display specific messages you decided to craft to appeal your targeted audience. 

By following the different steps explained in this article, we hope you will be able to give your brand a broader exposure. If you need help on SEO, creating and executing a content strategy, or simply want to learn more about paid ads, email us at Until then, see ya.

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