Getting listings in the ‘normal’ organic results is a science/art known as search engine optimization (or SEO for short). It has relatively little to do with the site design, it is actually more based on the content of your website. Google and the other search engines like good content and plenty of it, so that is the starting point. The foremost thing to understand for small business SEO is that it is vital to have good unique content that offers value to the searcher.
SEO is a long-term process of optimizing the content and structure of your web pages along with an ongoing campaign to acquire links to your site from other relevant sites. Be aware it can take many months, even years in some cases, to see results for particular keywords (search terms used by web users). Naturally, the more sites trying to get listed for the same keywords, the harder it is to get to the top of the search results.
You can get off to a good start by ensuring the meta titles of your pages are different to each other and are keyword focused, e.g. if your company was selling widgets you might have a page with the meta title “Widget Sales”, another page titled “Designer Widgets” or “Discount Widgets” etc. The content of those pages would of course be all about those particular subjects. You might even have a page heading above your paragraphs with the same keyword in bold print.
With those keywords in the titles, headings and text on those pages you are giving the search engine robots a chance at determining those pages are all about those particular topics so that they should be indexed for those particular keywords.
When your pages are ready with good content and you have edited your meta titles, it is time to find another way to impress the search engines. The best way is to get other relevant websites to link to yours; the more incoming links you can get the better as search engines see good links as votes for your site. The more ‘votes’ your site gets, the more the search engines tend to list your site in search results.
Links from sites that are relevant to your business are more influential than general directories so do try to get some. If there are online directories that specialize in your industry, get listings in those and see if you can get a listing from any professional or industry associations you might belong to or can get membership in. Links from general online directories such as Yelp, YellowPages, Local Chamber of Commerce, etc., can help a little too. Therefore, we would also suggest you get some of those too.
It greatly helps to have those incoming links lead directly to the various keyword targeted pages on your website rather than having them all go to your homepage. It’s also far more effective if the linking sites can include your target keywords in the anchor text, rather than just using the title of your website. (Anchor text is the text used to make the link, usually highlighted or underlined to show it is a link).
For example, if you’re trying to optimize a page on your site for the keyword “designer widgets” then ideally your incoming links to that page would appear on the linking sites as designer widgets, or joe’s designer widgets, or designer widgets at joe’s site etc. The more sites competing to get listed for that particular keyword the more incoming links you will need. In very competitive markets it can take many thousands of incoming links to signal your site is worth listing in the top 10.
So how long does it take to see results? After Google becomes aware of a site it will put it in the queue for the robots to crawl and will then try to figure out if it is good enough to list it for particular searches in particular parts of the world. After crawling, it can take some weeks to begin getting listings, even for your own business name or domain name.
Depending on your level of ability there are several options available to you to make sure Google is aware of the site, the simplest being to submit it to Google here. You can also submit your site to Bing which will also help with getting into Yahoo. By the way, we find that as long as there are links from other indexed websites to yours, Google will eventually find you even if you don’t submit your site directly, some even say Google prefers this way of finding sites!
If you are feeling a bit more ‘tech’ inclined then you could start a Google webmaster tools account where you can do things like verify your ownership of the site, set canonical and geographical preferences and other webmaster tasks. Doing that stuff is not actually compulsory to get listed in Google, though it is recommended. The most important thing is having a navigable and completed site (no dummy text or under construction notices) with good content and page titles. That is usually enough to get started as long as your site is linked to from others.
You might be interested in downloading a copy of Google’s Starter Guide if you would rather a printed guide for bedtime reading!