Business Listings

Online business listings are an important part of local search engine optimization. Creating links that lead back your website, in conjunction with consistent NAP citations, raises your business’ online visibility and signals to Google that your website is relevant and trustworthy.  The most important business listing online, is your Google My Business Page – which can show up alongside (not just among) the search engine results in Google.  This page information can leap off the page


Fill Out Your Google My Business Page

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to boost your local search ranking is to register with Google My Business.

Login to your Google My Business Page:


To get the most out of the listing, fill out all the fields, including your address, phone number and business hours. (You get bonus points for adding photos of your location and staff to personalize your profile even further.)

Examples of Business Listing Sources

When Google crawls the web for search results, it looks for mentions of your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). Even slight variations, like an abbreviated street address or alternate phone number, can confuse Google, so it’s important to make sure that your NAP is consistent in every citation, on or off your website.

Online Reviews (How to get them, and what to do with them)

When customers leave reviews on Google or any other website, it helps boost your search ranking. You can encourage customers to go online and leave reviews, and if they do, it’s important to respond gracefully to both positive and negative comments. This will help improve your reputation with searchers as well.


How can I get more reviews?

One good way, is to make the option easy for potential reviewers.  Put a link on your homepage to the review location in Google.  If you go to your business page (more on this later in the book – under Business Listings), and copy the link to the page – then go to your website and add a link that says something like “Like our service? Want to leave us a Review?” and make it link to that review webpage.

Another option, is to simply ask.  Talk to your customers, and let them know that after the job is complete – if they would leave a review on Google, it would be highly appreciated.  Wait until the service is nearly complete (or fully, in some cases) before asking for a review.  If you are selling a product – as frequently, either place a sign on your front door – or print the request for a review on your receipt.


Bad Reviews

If you have a bad review online, the worst thing you can do – is to either ignore it, or try to get rid of it.  Your best solution for this – is to simply respond.  Collect your patience, and take a deep breath – and type calmly.


Don’t escalate matters by stooping to their level!  Instead, voice your desire to help them – ask them what caused them to be so upset, and work to calm them down.

Don’t act ‘clueless’ – as you could have caused them some sort of hardship – but not everyone on the internet needs to know this.  If you know exactly what caused the bad review, or it is some sort of personal matter – ask them to call you to discuss amending the issue, or some sort of resolution.  Make sure to express how you are sorry, apologize for any hardship your product/service caused – and own the mistake.

If you take 5 minutes and request information – the next time someone sees the review, they will see that you were responsive and helpful – and maybe there’s a chance that someone just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.


When to Avoid Reviews

Requesting reviews will NOT work in your favor if you purposefully back-stabbed someone, or sold them a miserable product or service.  If you did, no amount of backpedaling or apologies will keep the bad reviews from coming in.

We’re all human, all capable of mistakes – but people can spot a shady company from a mile away.  If your purpose in life is to profit off shady business practices – you should avoid reviews at all costs.

(This is not an endorsement of crappy services, but a tongue-in-cheek explanation of why we ALL need to focus on good reviews online.)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Local search is a powerful way for small business owners to reach new customers and generate leads. When a customer uses the internet to research products or services, they’re not just looking for any business—they’re looking for a business in their neighborhood or city. And you want to make sure your business is at the top of those local search results.


Although we don’t recommend any attempt at advanced techniques in this book, due to the amount of regular changes that happen in the world of SEO – we will give you enough information to understand exactly what it is that your provider is offering.  To properly juggle the tasks necessary to accomplish your SEO goals – you should think of all the moving parts involved.


What is SEO?

SEO doesn’t have to be confusing.  Just think of the separate parts, and you’ll have a good idea of how we manipulate the search engine results – but altering parts of your website.


Separate parts of the Search Process

  • Browser (the software you use to access the internet – not to be confused with a search engine, which is a website you visit to get search results. By default, many browsers are set to either Google, Bing, or MSN when you first open them – which is the cause of the confusion.  The following are browsers:
    • Google Chrome
    • Microsoft Edge
    • Mozilla Firefox
    • Microsoft Internet Explorer
    • Safari
  • Search Engine
    • Google
    • Bing
    • Yahoo
    • DuckDuckGo
  • Search Engine Results
  • Search Engine Results Page


I’ll describe each piece individually, along with how they all fit together in general.



Your browser is the software installed on your computer that allows you to access the internet. When you open the software, many times the first thing you see is the search engine – which can be confusing to some users.  Although we won’t go into much detail in this book – there are many great resources online that you can review to learn more about the differences.


Search Engine

The search engine’s purpose – is to go out on the internet, and provide ‘results’ for what you would like to find.  If you type in a request, the search engine will check it’s ‘index’ – and post the results for you on your computer.  Although these results aren’t 100% live, they reflect a lot of work that is completed by the search engine to properly ‘index’ billions of search results – and rank them in proper order depending on the search request.


Search Engine Results

The results page is the output of a variety of equations and algorithms built with the express purpose of delivering the best (right) content every time, and to penalize people who try to cheat the system.

For search engines to be relevant – they need to continually produce quality results, or a competitor will start to take advantage – and grab more traffic for their search services.  At the advent of the internet – there were many search engines, but with it’s simple interface – Google jumped to the top of the list, and became the search engine of choice for nearly a decade now.


On-Page Metrics

Each page of your website could have up to 20 different variables, and if you have 20 pages on your website – you have a total of 400 pieces of “on-page” information that must be individually altered and then measured, then re-altered, and measure again.  The measurements happen once per month – but there are times when the results from search engines don’t publicly release until 3+ months have passed.  Any changes that you’ve done to your website must be meticulously documented – so that you can return to the information after several months have passed.


Off-Page Metrics

When you look at your website, any visible (or invisible, coded) elements are considered on-page.  Every other metric, whether you’re measuring the number/volume of links from other websites, links from social networks, reviews in Google/Yelp/Yahoo/etc., or considering the relation between government or organization websites – you’re looking at “Off-Page Metrics”.  These measurements are a lot more difficult to control, as you could be linked to a ‘bad’ website – that has a miserable reputation, and could be in a different country.  Removing that link would require a lot of time and effort by someone who doesn’t have experience in the procedures necessary to successfully complete the removal.  You could have an article written about your company that doesn’t have a link to your website, and there’s a chance that you may be able to contact the author to request a link to a specific page on your website.  You could ensure that each post you send out on social networks has a link to information on your own website, which can help as well.



A link from your website to another might be ‘shoving your customer out the door’ – but if you create the link correctly, you are helping your customer – along with boosting your ranking in search engines.  Remember that search engines just want their users to get to the right information as quickly as possible.

If a website is ranking well, and you send a visitor from your website to the higher-ranking website – search engines see this connection, and the ‘trust-factor’ is boosted on your website.  If a high-ranking website links to you – the link also adds trust.  An easy way to think of this connection, is to imagine your website being covered by gold dust.  When one of your visitors enters your website – they gather a bit of that gold dust on their shoes.  If you send them to another website, they track that gold dust over to the other website – increasing the value of that transaction.  If you want to gain more gold dust at your website – all you need to do, is increase the volume of links at high ranking websites!  That increases the potential of your website visitors bringing as much of that gold dust back to your website as possible.  But, don’t forget what search engines are looking for…  they want users to find the right information!  So, when you create a link on a social network, business listing, or other high ranking website, make sure to link to a page with information that will help your brand-new, gold dust tracking customer!


How does SEO effect your business?

Well, if the internet is a library – the search engine is the librarian, and your customers are the people asking the librarian to find some information for them.  Your website is simply a single book in this massive library.  I mean, every website in the world is a separate book – so you can imagine it takes a while for the librarians to read YOUR book, along with every change to every ‘book’ on the planet.



With social networking, people posting pictures of their meals, and altogether too many selfies online, the library is growing out of control.


The librarians are extremely busy, sorting this information – and cataloging an endless flow of data for search engines to work properly.

When you simplify the overall situation to these small pieces, I can easily explain how each part can be used to help market your company online.  “How do you get to the top of Google?” you might ask, and I can easily say:

“The librarian has to effectively read your book, take notes, and verify pieces of information to be ready the next time someone asks for related information.”

If the librarian was an actual person, your website would never hit the top of the list.  At the rate of data expansion in 2017, and forecasted into the future
– it would never even reach a search engine at all.  There is no possible way for humans to sort this information on time.  Fighting against this stream, you should ensure your website has the proper elements to be quickly read and understood by the search engines.

These parts are defined/described as:

  • Title Tag (Book Title)
  • Heading (Headline/Chapter Name)
  • Content (What is the book ‘about?’)
  • Images (Are there pictures?)
  • Meta Description (Short description in dust cover)
  • Geographic Location (Where?)
  • Update Frequency (when was the book published last?)


These are a few of the factors that are used by search engines to sort and rank your website, but this list goes much further – with nearly 200 factors involved in the detailed listing for your website on the search engine results page.

WordPress Websites

If you haven’t heard of WordPress – it’s one of the easiest ways to set up a website.  Training on the use of WordPress can be accomplished before your cup of coffee gets cold, and the interface is simple and clean.

There are thousands of ‘themes’ available online, which can change the look of your website in minutes, and plugins are available for nearly any feature that you’d like to see.

(Note: If you’re looking for a good plugin for your website, but don’t know the right option – send me a message using the contact information on this website, and I’ll help you find the right solution!)


Security and feature updates happen about once per-year (for free) – and don’t change the interface enough to notice anything even happened.  There are still websites online that were originally built five to ten years ago, that are still running smoothly on the WordPress CMS (Content Management System).  So, my suggestion – is to aim for WordPress as your software of choice.

When you have the option to install WordPress – you’ll have to set a Username and Password for the administrator account (this stage is very different between providers, so I apologize for the vague nature of the following statements) so that you can log in and get to the WordPress Dashboard.

The WordPress Dashboard allows you to add pages, upload images, access the page content (what shows visually on each page of your website) and edit your menu options.  One of the greatest aspects of using WordPress for your website – is that there are thousands of people uploading tutorials in regards to using WordPress in a variety of situations.  How do I add a “Theme” to WordPress?  Jump over to YouTube – and search for Basic WordPress tutorials.  You’ll be designing your very own website in no time!

There are literally 100’s of tutorials on YouTube for each step of website development.


Need Help?

As with any of the services on this website – I don’t want to overemphasize how important it is to realize your strengths and weaknesses when trying to accomplish these tasks, or learning this information.  If you aren’t ready to tackle ‘setting up a hosting account’ – get in touch with a local provider who can assist you through these steps!

If your eyes glaze over during this post, realize that this is the most important part of your marketing efforts – so you can get someone to help you build your website – and spend more of your available time on other marketing tasks!  If you have any questions – contact me using the contact information on this website.

Website Hosting

If you’re using a DIY provider – you most likely won’t have to deal with a domain registrar or hosting – as those services will be included in your monthly contract.  But, to teach you the proper terminology and use of each part of the online experience – I’ll explain a little about what hosting is, and how it’s used in the whole process.



The definition of ‘hosting’ can be complicated, as there are many different options, features, and perks to separate hosting accounts.  Describing each of those factors would take much more time and resources than this book can carry – so I’ll simply explain it in an analogy, and hope that you can catch on…

Hosting is like the piece of ‘land’ your website is built upon.


Relationship to Your Domain/Website

The hosting account is tied to your website, and by relation – tied to your domain.  To best describe the relationship between these three pieces, you can think of your website as your ‘house’, your hosting as the ‘land’ the house is on – and the domain as the ‘address’ for your property.  When people go to your house, they are using the address as a placeholder – like how your domain name is used as the address to your hosting account.  When your visitors come to your property (hosting) – they are presented with everything that is on your land, but are mainly interested in the home itself.  Your hosting account, and the website built for entertaining your visitors – is created to automatically display your website first, along with any other features you want to provide for your visitors.

Along with your ‘home’ (website), you can provide customer ‘portals’ (bill pay, plan submissions, secure logins, etc.) that are like other buildings on your property.  This analogy still holds up – because if you told your website visitor where your lawnmower is – they wouldn’t immediately go to the front door, but would head in the direction of the garage or shed.



Your hosting account can be divided up into separate sections called ‘subdomains’ – to redirect visitors to specific ‘buildings’ on your property.  Separate websites or software can be installed on your hosting account to display specific information for those visitors.

An example of a subdomain would be – which shows Google Maps – instead of the main Google domain.  They know you want to search a map, and the hosting account is smart enough to bring you to that specific page – instead of the main homepage (



Other features of a hosting account can be a bandwidth limit, which caps the amount of data that can be stored and recalled for all your websites, portals, etc. for a hosting account.  In the past, this limit denied website creators from building big, expansive websites – in favor of two or three pages online.  In recent years, this limit has stretched up to ‘unlimited’ – which means that the average website doesn’t reach what would cause the server (which holds your hosting account) from being overloaded.



Storage was also (and can still be) an issue with hosting providers in the past – but has also increased to ‘unlimited’ values in some cases.  There shouldn’t be any reason (as of the time of this writing) to need more than 5 gigabytes of storage for your small business website.  This would allow a LOT of images, text, background pictures, and even videos on your website – all within what is allowed by your hosting provider.



The most important feature that you should keep in mind – is the amount of RAM (random access memory – but easier to remember as ‘short term memory’ for quick decisions) available to your hosting account.  Too little (less than 1GB) – and you could have a website that struggles to load quickly.  If your website features large images, you should look at a hosting account with at least 2 gigabytes of dedicated RAM – which will allow your hosting account to be nimble enough to load quickly, and get your website loaded before your potential customer has a change of heart, and decides to go to check out your competitor’s websites.


Hosting Providers

Hosting providers are available all over the internet, each saying they have better services than the next, but in my experience, there are three very good hosting providers that have stood the test of time, and if you don’t like the pricing available from these sources, you are free to choose the provider you like better!  Just do a search in google for ‘hosting provider.’


Website Hosting Provider Examples

  • GoDaddy
  • BlueHost
  • HostGator

These three providers have reasonable pricing, great customer support – and are willing to help you get started, without trying to get you to purchase more than you need to get your business rolling.


Hosting Setup

Each hosting company has a different method of setting up their service, so I won’t go into depth in this book – but I will cover some of the basics (that should translate, albeit very roughly) of all web hosting providers’ setup process.

When you purchase a hosting account – you will be given the option to set it up with popular software, which can be a choice that is both difficult and very easy.  The sheer number of software providers who aim to cure the world of ‘difficult web development’ is overwhelming to say the least.  There is rarely a month that goes by without another player in the game, but overall – most non-techy people have migrated over to one of the options.

Domain Expiration

Since domains are basically ‘leased’ on an annual basis – there is a chance that they could expire, which would remove your ‘rights’ to that domain.  Entire companies of fraudulent people are patiently waiting to snatch up your domain before you have a chance to recoup your losses.

At that point, there is no option for recovery – other than to pay the price domain kidnapper is requesting (technically a digital-hostage situation), or to pick up your pieces and move on to another domain name.  Neither situation is satisfactory by any means, so it’s best to plan – and understand the process so you don’t accidentally let your domain lapse in registration.

How to avoid expiration of your domain name:

  • When you purchase the domain, make sure to set a calendar reminder for 2 weeks before the expiration.
    • During purchase, you should have the option to pick how many years you’d like for the registration to cover – with a default option of either one or two years.
    • Use Google Calendar, Outlook, or another ‘reminder tool’ to give you a heads-up when the domain is about to expire.
  • Change the time you renew to a memorable date.
    • Log into your domain registrar website – and pay in advance on a specific date, and pay multiple years when possible. Many registrars offer this service at a discounted rate.
  • Have someone manage the domain registration process for you.
    • This is probably the easiest route, as you don’t need to remember anything – but the same goes for domains as it does for your website – you have to trust the person doing the account management, as they are the last line of defense between you having a domain name for an extended period of time – or losing it overnight, due a lapse of judgement by your provider.
    • This isn’t supposed to scare you into thinking your current provider doesn’t have your best interests, but everyone makes mistakes.
  • Set up auto-renew.
    • Most registrars will have an ‘auto-renew’ option, which allows them to charge a card that they have on file – preventing your domain from lapsing.

If you don’t have auto-renew in place – make sure to choose another option above, to ensure your domain doesn’t lapse.

Domain Registration

Simply put – your domain name is one of the most important pieces of your online presence that you can control.  If you don’t have control, or aren’t sure if you have control or not – please read this section to learn more about your domain, and how it relates to your business ventures online.



Your domain name is like your tags on your car, in that you must pay for the ‘rights’ to use them per year.  You never truly ‘own’ your tags/license plate – as it is the property of the state in which you live.  You can register the tags for multiple years, and the same goes for your domain name.  But don’t go sending a check to the department of licensing for your domain name – as that would be taking this analogy too far!   As a matter of fact, don’t ever send a paper check to a ‘domain registrar’.  If you aren’t on their own website – paying with a secure connection, don’t trust them.  Call the domain registrar directly on the phone if you must – but don’t pay for a domain or domain extension without going to your registrar’s website, or talking to a representative over the phone.


Domain Registrars

In the online world, the procurement of domain names is handled by a ‘registrar’ company, who will help the process of purchasing the rights to any domain name.  They check if a domain is already registered – and if the domain you want is available, will file the proper paperwork to hold the domain in your name for a designated amount of time.

Companies that will handle your domain registration have a variety of services available, many of which we’ll cover in other chapters of this book – but for building your online presence, we really want to focus on simply purchasing the domain name itself.


Domain registration companies:

  • GoDaddy (
  • 1&1 (
  • BlueHost (
  • Namecheap (
  • com (
  • Gandi (


Each provider has different prices – for different periods of time.  There are some that will offer deep discounts to first time purchasers, but will raise pricing when you go to resign/continue registration of your domain the next year.  Average price for a ‘.com’ domain name shouldn’t be above $20/year, so if your registrar is charging more – there could be an obvious reason…


Domain Auctions

Since the dawn of the internet, there have been ‘poachers’ who purchase dirt-cheap domain names, knowing that someday – somewhere, there is a person who will want a domain – and will be willing to spend a little more money to gain the ‘rights’ to use it.  To go back to my ‘vehicle tags’ analogy, it’s like acquiring ‘vanity plates’ – in that there are quite a few people who might want “2FAST4U” – so someone buys up the rights quickly, and places the ‘rights’ to that domain back online for a raised price.  When the domain owner registers the domain initially, they send a message back to the registrar stating that they would like to auction the domain – and for the time being, will put a ‘this domain is being auctioned’ webpage in place.  Anyone who is interested in purchasing the rights to the domain must contact the registrar to organize the transaction.  If you find a domain that has an outrageous price tag – this is most likely the reason, but don’t be discouraged…  just search for something similar that you can use for your business.


Domain Name Ideas / Research

When researching a name to purchase – there aren’t going to be very many ‘.com’ names remaining that are short enough to explain to someone on the phone without some sort of misspelling or intentional (some people call it clever) misspelling.  I don’t agree with intentional misspelling, as it can confuse your potential customer – and if they accidentally spell the name ‘correctly’, they are going to be visiting another website, possibly owned by a direct competitor.  The value of a ‘.com’ is gained in search engine results (instant boost over a ‘.net’ or ‘.biz’ address), in simplicity for your customers – but there is another value that isn’t seen often – in that you don’t need to use your full address all the time!

Local & Geographic Location

When you design your website – make sure to include your address and phone number at the top of each page, and if possible/readable – add it to some of the page headers.

Don’t hesitate letting your website visitors know where you are located, or what town you provide services.  If you look at your competitor’s website – you might find that it’s not as silly as it sounds, and we’re starting to get those details in on many websites.  Make it a part of your tagline, like “Cleveland Ohio’s Best Drywall” or “Hillsboro Oregon’s Finest Coffee” – and you’ll start to see the benefit in search engine results.  It also makes for a nice ‘local-feeling’ website, when you have a sense of pride in your town.

If your company doesn’t want to have a physical address listed online (say you run your business out of your garage or kitchen table) – it’s just as vital (more so, in fact) to have local information showing on your website.  Google will look at your website and compare it to other information found online – and if the information doesn’t add up – you might find yourself falling in search engine results.

For companies with multiple locations, make sure to add separate pages on your website for your top services, so that those pages can be found in search engines.  Title the pages with your city/region that you’d like to be found in – and make sure to add text on the page dedicated to that location.  For example, if your company handles chimney cleaning in Omaha, Nebraska – you could title the page “Omaha Nebraska – Chimney Cleaners”, and place the location in the content of the page – including other references to the location, such as landmarks or distance to/from schools or other points of interest.

Don’t want your business address shown?

Over the years, I’ve found that there are many companies that don’t want their location listed for a much different reason – either they are a ‘food truck’, delivering a product in different locations every day (sometimes several places per day) – or they have run across thieves who target businesses with valuable materials that need to be stored outside.

If you are one of these businesses, it might be a good idea to create a business ‘service area’ that covers all the places that you do business, and make sure the option for “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” is checked.

Why D.I.Y? (The Dentist Analogy)

If you are thinking about designing your own website, or even having someone from your family design it for you – please take a minute and read this analogy – and truly think about what you are about to do!

Dentist – Option 1:  You think you have the experience, pain-tolerance, and time necessary to handle your own dental work.  The first step – is to try and numb the pain, grab a pair of pliers/drill – and start working.  You can imagine how this option turns out in the long run. You end up having to hire a professional to fix everything you tried to accomplish.

Dentist – Option 2: Hiring someone who really desires to be a dentist, but doesn’t want to take the leap into dental school – as they aren’t really 100% sure they want to be a dentist full-time.  This outcome brings you a solution, but not the best solution for your needs.  The next time you go to request help, they might not be there – especially in the middle of a holiday weekend when a tooth gets chipped and you need it repaired.  Use this option carefully, as some small businesses might not be available next year…  or the year after that.  Catalog any work done on the project including reports, credentials (username/passwords), conversations, timelines, updates, and make sure that you can get that information delivered to the next ‘dentist’.  Kind of like your dental record, this is valuable information that needs to be captured and stored in a safe place.

Dentist – Option 3: Hire a good dentist.  Although this sounds easy, it’s like the web design conundrum – How do you find a good dentist?  Do some research online, read reviews, try them out for a small service – and expand on the findings.  Talk to your friends or business colleagues, and if still have doubts – ask their customers.  Talk to other companies in their portfolio. There shouldn’t be any mystery if you talk to someone who had worked with them before.  If you like the dentist, they are professional, and the price/level of service are both acceptable – you shouldn’t ever have to search again.  The warning signs are also like a dentist – in that you would expect to have a clean presentation, organized tools, punctual schedule, quality services, and a clinical approach to documentation.  Although the price is higher than a DIY project, you will find comfort in dealing with a true professional company…  or dentist.

The purpose of this analogy should be fairly clear – you shouldn’t skimp on the price, as it’s directly tied to the professionalism, experience, and accountability of your provider.  Am I right?

Options for Do-It-Yourself Website Design

Website Option 1: If you have the time and patience to handle the website design yourself, by all means – go for it!  It’s a very good experience – and you could be very glad that you took the initiative to get it done.  If you doubt that you have the skills, patience, or time necessary to handle the project – or are simply too busy to get it finished (or started, for that matter) – reach out to a local web designer, and visit with them about helping for a small fee.  Establish your budget – and work within those limits.

Website Option 2: If you have a small budget, but are concerned about doing the work yourself – you should reach out to someone you trust  (either a local small business, a friend of the family, or another resource) to get it moving for you.  This also goes for small businesses who have a website online, but are disappointed with the service that they have received from a DIY provider.  If you try to get answers from your provider – but they reply with shady answers, or the answers they provide appear to be purposefully vague or overly complicated – it might be time to tell them to ‘dumb it down’ a bit, or you’ll have to look at another provider.

Website Option 3: If your business depends on leads from your website – it’s very wise to think of your website as an investment. If you’ve already started on the road to building your website, with little information from a professional – please, stop and contact someone who can get the job done for you.  When so much is riding on such a small investment – it doesn’t make sense to try and accomplish the website yourself, especially when you can get all the metrics/analytics from the website – as handled by a professional.