How I Got Our Small Business Ranking in Google’s Top 10 (Above Some Big Players)

by | 12 Feb 24

So, working in a small business! One minute you’re brainstorming product strategies, the next you’re knee-deep in sales calls, customer queries, and the never-ending pile of bookkeeping. It’s a whirlwind! But we wouldn’t trade it for the world, we love it!

In my recent chats with other small business folk – and those brave people who’ve taken the plunge into entrepreneurship – I’ve noticed something interesting. A lot of us aren’t fully utilising all the potential lead-generation channels out there. And by ‘potential’, I mean those I’ve tried and tested myself, and have seen fantastic outcomes.

Let’s run through them quickly:

  • Customer Referrals
  • Social Selling
  • Email Marketing
  • Webinar Events
  • Social Advertising (though, sparingly – it can burn a hole in your pocket)
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. On top of everything else, now you’re supposed to become a master of these six things as well. Stick with me here. I promise I’m not about to leave you high and dry.

Let’s focus on one of these channels today, SEO. I want to share my own experience of how I managed to get our small team of three – or ‘micro business’, if you will – to rank in the Top 10 Google results.

Intrigued? Let’s get started.

The Mistakes I Made

Just to set the record straight, I’m no SEO consultant or guru. What I am is a small business operator without a huge budget to splash on SEO. But here’s the thing – I need those leads to keep my business ticking along, and if that means self-teaching SEO, then so be it.

So, that’s exactly what I did. I rolled up my sleeves and got down to the nitty-gritty of understanding SEO, far beyond my initial knowledge. But I made mistakes along the way. I tried many things, but the 3 main mistakes I made:

  1. Adding loads of pages to my website
  2. Adding the keywords through all the text in those pages
  3. Paying to get backlinks to my site

These things just don’t work. If you’re doing them, please stop. You’re wasting your valuable time and – if you made the terrible mistake of paying for backlinks, like me (ouch!) – you are also wasting your money.

Did I make other mistakes, too? Yep! I’ll admit I’ve spent too much time on things that didn’t boost my Google rankings much. Google values meta and image tags for a great user experience, but the hours I spent focusing on these brought zero results. But when I focused on quality content I started to see the results improve, significantly.

So, while the technical side deserves your attention, it was the content that moved the needle for my SEO results. This leads me nicely onto my next point…

The Major Break Through

So, I fumbled and bumbled my way through the tasks I just mentioned, wasting more time than I really want to admit. And then, I came across this phrase: Searcher Intent.

At first, I’ll be honest, my brain was so fogged up with the idea that SEO was some kind of dark art that I’d need to outsource and pour loads of money into. So, these two little words just bounced off me. I just assumed it was another complicated piece of the puzzle.

But the thing is – it wasn’t. And it still isn’t. And that’s the thing I want to share with you today. I’m going to break it down, and make it as clear as possible for you.

Even though I was still pretty confused at this point, I wasn’t about to give up. I decided to take one last stab at unravelling the mystery that is SEO. And lo and behold, a YouTube channel came to my rescue, parting the clouds and making everything feel clear (maybe even sunny!).

And what I’m going to do now is distil all those hours spent glued to Youtube into this article for you.
Here goes.

Understanding The 4 Searcher Intent Types

What’s ‘Searcher Intent’ about? It’s simple. Ensure your page matches the content in the current top Google results.

Google prioritises their user’s experience. They tailo results to fit what users are actually looking for – be it products or information.

Your goal? Align your page content with Searcher Intent. To give you a bit more info, here are the four most common types of Searcher Intent.

Learner Intent

This is when the searcher is looking for information. For instance, a search for “how to bake a cake” is a classic case of learner intent.

Navigational Intent

This is when the searcher is trying to reach a specific website or page. Say someone searches for “Facebook login” – they’re trying to get straight to the Facebook login page.

Buying Intent

This is when the searcher wants to buy. Someone searching for “buy iPhone 15”, for example, is showing clear buying intent.

Commercial Investigation

The searcher is doing some research before making a purchase. E.g. someone searches for “best electric guitars 2024”.

So that’s the quick intro to Searcher Intent. Next up, let’s look at how to use this in your SEO strategy.

How Our Small Business Leapfrogged The Giants

Alright, so now you understand this whole Searcher Intent thing. You’re clued up on how Google is focused on keeping its users happy and showing search results that they’re expecting to see (Google don’t want them nipping over to ChatGPT for their info! Ha!).

So, how do you go about aligning with that Google Searcher Intent? Well, I’ve got some news for you – some good, some bad.

  • The bad news? It’s not exactly thrilling work.
  • The good news? It’s really easy.
  • Even better news? If you tackle it as a small team, you’ll all learn something new together.
  • The best news? It works a treat, just like it did for us, landing you in that coveted top 10!

So, what’s next?

Stage 1: Work Out The Searcher Intent Type

Alright, so you’re ready to get started.

  • What’s the first step? Simple – you need to do a Google search for the term you’re hoping to rank for.
  • Once you’ve done that, just ignore all those ‘Sponsored’ results at the top, and click on the first organic result.
  • Then, jot down the Searcher Intent Type for that page on a sticky note and put it on your wall. Or, if you’re more digitally inclined, you could use a Miro or Figjam board.
  • Next, you’ll want to move on to the second organic result and do the exact same thing. Write the searcher intent type for that webpage on another sticky note and stick it up on the wall.
  • And you just keep going like this for all of the top 10 results.
  • Once you’re done, group all your sticky notes by each of the 4 Searcher Intent types, then count them up.

And there you have it. The Searcher Intent type with the most sticky notes is the one you should be aiming for with that particular keyword or search phrase.

So, what’s next on the agenda? Well, here’s what you need to do…

Sticky Notes

Stage 2: Work Out The Content Structure

Right, now that we’ve got the searcher intent sorted, it’s time to find a fresh bit of wall for your next set of sticky notes.

  • Next up, you’re going to visit the first organic result page again.
  • Now, this time around, you’re going to write a sticky note for each of the key topics that the webpage covers. If it’s a blog, for instance, ask yourself: What’s the name of the blog title? What are the sub-titles for each section of the blog? What topics does it delve into?


Team Working With Sticky Notes
Team Working With Sticky Notes

Right, now that we’ve got the searcher intent sorted, it’s time to find a fresh bit of wall for your next set of sticky notes.

  • Next up, you’re going to visit the first organic result page again.
  • Now, this time around, you’re going to write a sticky note for each of the key topics that the webpage covers. If it’s a blog, for instance, ask yourself: What’s the name of the blog title? What are the sub-titles for each section of the blog? What topics does it delve into?

Once you’ve done that, stick those notes up on the wall.

Now, let’s move on to the second organic result page. Do the same thing again, but this time, look for patterns. If the second page has a title or sub-topic that’s really similar to the first page, group those sticky notes together.

And just keep repeating this process for all of the top 10 results.

Once you’re done, take a step back and take a good look at those clusters of sticky notes. They’ll give you a clear idea of the content you need to add to your webpage.

So now you’ve got two crucial pieces of the puzzle: the Searcher Intent type and the content you need on your page. With all this in hand, you’re well-equipped to…

Stage 3: Write The Content

So, what’s next on the agenda? Well, it’s time to either whip up a new page on your website or give an existing one a bit of a makeover so that it matches the search intent. That could mean sprucing up a blog for those eager learners or updating up a product page for those ready to buy.

Remember all those groups of topics you worked out in Stage 2, above? You’ll want to make sure your content covers each of those.

Team Planning Content Writing

OK, I know – this part doesn’t look too daunting. I’ve only written two short paragraphs for this stage!

But the thing is, this might be where you’ll spend most of your time. However, it’s also the bit that will really pay off. We’re talking about landing in Google’s Top 10 results here! So, it’s worth the effort!

Our Real-Life Results

So, at Accelerate, with just 3 of us, we successfully ranked on Google for our targeted search terms.

How? We learned from mistakes, focused on matching Searcher Intent, and even went beyond by checking competition, ensuring parity, and adding extra flair.
In essence, we met Searcher Intent and aimed to provide additional value through video, clear pricing, and customer testimonials.

Here are our results as of 18th February 2024, in the UK:

"Social Selling Coaching"

Google position on desktop: 1
Google position on mobile: 1

Big organisations that we’re outranking: Charted Institute of Marketing and Hootsuite.

"Digital Lead Investing"

Google position on desktop: 2
Google position on mobile: 2

Big organisations that we’re outranking: LeadBoxer, Forbes and Medium.

People to Follow On Social

So, as I mentioned at the top of this post… I’m not some SEO guru. I’m just a small business owner trying to navigate through this stuff because, let’s face it, our budget doesn’t exactly stretch to cover everything.

I sincerely hope this blog has shed some light on something new and offered up a few bits of wisdom you can take back to your own small business.

As promised above, here are three great resources that’ll help you get the lowdown on this and other SEO-related stuff:

So, ready to roll up your sleeves and start ranking on Google?

Let’s get going! 🚀

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