Probably the one question I am most asked is, “Why isn’t my website on the top of the list when I search for it?” There are many reasons. The most common one is that you didn’t have a well-constructed strategy and message for your customer. Let’s see if we can help you, help yourself.
What You Can Do
Believe it or not, what YOU do is actually more important than what your website designer does. It is up to you to provide the direction, scope, and schedule for rolling out your website. Whether it is simply an informational site or an e-commerce storefront, you really want to think through a plan for getting it found by the right viewers with a direct call to action.
Define your customer profile
Where are you going to find your next customers? Here is where you create the ideal profile so that you can create the right content that will relate to that kind of customer. Think about the geographic and personal demographics of your customers, how and where they shop, what they are looking for when do they search, etc. Once you know this, it will be easier for you to identify your keywords, describe your business and create your custom branding.
Identify your Keywords
Now that you’ve identified your customer and what / how you are going to reach them with your marketing strategy, it’s time to start listing what keywords will they be using to search for you. Will it be by product name, company name, industry terms or phrases, geographic regions, demographic groups, and even calendar criteria? Your keywords should be what your potential viewers will use to find you, not always what you want them to be. How do you find out? Research. Ask them, “How did you find us?” Collect the data and start your list. You’d be surprised how much viewers want to help.
Once your keyword list is done, now you can start to create your business description and your site content.
Describe your business
This is what shows up in the search engine results under the Page Title. Essentially, this is where you put your unique “2-Minute Elevator Speech” to describe what you do, where you do it and to whom you do it to. Keep it to a maximum of two sentences and make it efficient and focused. Do some random searches and see how others are writing and apply it to your description.
Create Rich, Relevant Content For Your Website
Rich content for your web pages includes not only text but images and illustrations. Let’s start with the text part.
There are probably three or four categories of text you should focus on. Headlines and sub-headers, body text, page titles and link titles. Page Titles and Headlines are sometimes overlooked by site owners because they don’t use them or they’re not thought out. For example, instead of your contact page being just “Contact”, why not make it “Contact SEED Internet Solutions”. Simple right?
Next, decide what kind of content is relevant to your viewers. Are they interested in product descriptions or applications, specifications, FAQ’s, testimonials, certifications or associations?
Finally, provide a clear “Call-To-Action” plan for your visitors. You can have them:
- Call This Number Now
- Order Now For Special Pricing
- Join Our Mailing List for Special Offers
- Email Us For More Information
If you need specific content that is trending now, check out Google Trends and locate your topic.
Images and Illustrations should always be current, professional high quality, and propers sized and described. By describing your image by product, location, or timeframe, you add another way users to find you. How many times have you searched for an image which leads to a website? It works.
Social Media and Relevant Outbound Links
Social Media Channels Are Search Engines, too, and get almost as many search hits as the traditional search engines like Bing and Google. If your customer demographic includes people with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram accounts, you need to show those links on your site. Not only that, consider the content that you need to put on each of those sites needs to be as current and relevant as your website.
Relevant outbound links are gateways to other resources and websites that you either endorse or have confidence they will support all the content on your website. Search engines can now distinguish between relevant and irrelevant links. If you are selling shoes, you might not want a link to the food network or the electric company. But you might link to articles on footwear research and trends to support your products and marketing efforts.
What your DESIGNER should do
Now that you’ve done all your homework and assignments, it’s time for your web designer to turn it all into a searchable, relevant page that is exactly what your viewers are looking for. Here are the basics.
Build a Responsive Web Page
One of the biggest factors search engines use to rate your website is based on the architecture, i.e. can the site adapt to the device it is being viewed. This is called RWD (Responsive Web Design). Essentially, it uses percentages in determining the width of a page or column, instead of the standard fixed pixel width used in the past. More people are accessing your web page via a mobile device so your site needs to be flexible. In fact, Google will penalize your page rank if your site is not responsive. Ouch.
Optimize page load speed and image sizes
How fast your pages and images load is important for SEO, but it really minimizes the annoyance factor of having to wait for a page or image to appear on the screen. Viewers will abandon your page in a heartbeat and never look back if they are constantly staring at your load gif, spinning, and spinning.
So, first, we will optimize your images to be the right size and resolution for the largest device they will be viewed on. No more 5MB image files. Whether they are .jpg or .png or .gif, your designer will make sure they look great and load fast.
Page loading is a little more complicated, but that’s the point, make it less complicated so it loads faster. Remove any unnecessary scripts, style sheets and hidden code to speed up your load times. Not every script or stylesheet is required for every page. Make sure all the links to remote sites and files are accurate to avoid any non-performance issues, like navigation and lightbox failures. Some larger files and scripts are large by nature and take time, just remove the “fluff”.
Apply the latest Search Engine techniques to the web page
One approach to building the best page for both your business goals and your SEO strategy is to list the elements that can affect your page rank. This will assure that your web designer has done everything to help your search parameters.
The Basics: Create a site hierarchy with relevant page names, build a clean and intuitive navigation schema, verify the spelling and grammar usage are correct, make the page font and font size readable and appropriate for the intended audience.
The Technical : The page contains descriptive page titles, business summary, keyword headers (h1 – h6), images with the alt and title names applied, create an XML sitemap file (makes it easy for the robots and crawlers to understand your site structure), and robots.txt file to let the robots/crawlers know the priority of your pages and what to follow and not follow. Add your social media links.
The Aggressive: Create a video of your product, process or service, implement an online help chat feature, enlist an AdWord campaign, implement a social media aggregator, and integrate an e-commerce or blog feature to spotlight your business and products.
List your site on appropriate directories
There are thousands of websites and directories on which local business owners are allowed to create free business listings. Some you may already have heard about include Google+ Local, Yelp, Bing Places, Internet Yellow Pages, and Yahoo! Local. Here is what your designer or developer should be doing to support your rankings with the local directories:
Verify The Important Attributes – Name, Address, Phone Number, Categories, Photos, Social Profiles, Reviews, etc. Select the appropriate category for the business.
Claiming Your Listings – Claim your business listing online in the form of a phone call (quickest), postcard (slowest), or an email.
Local Search Citations – Local citations are mentions of your business name, website, and location on other sites. These listings send qualified signals to Google that you are indeed a real business and will improve your rankings. Here is a great resource for getting citations based on: Category: Top Citations by Category and Top Citations by City.
Cleaning Up Duplicate Listing Issues – There’s a lot to do when your business changes locations, management, and products. The presence of duplicate listings can detract from your local business’ ability to rank well and win customers.
It’s a lot more planning than tangible results and it takes time to implement and see those results. Remember, it’s not your web designer’s fault for low traffic if you don’t provide the content and objectives. Do your homework, plan your strategy, execute it flawlessly, and prepare for the best.