Make your website work for you
WHETHER or not we like it, Google rules the roost when it comes to finding what we want. The first thing we all say when we want to know the answer to any question is ‘Google it!’
So, if your website doesn’t comply with Google’s ‘rules’, it’s all too easy for your website to stop earning its keep and in some cases it’s all too easy for it to become an expensive waste of time.
If that sounds harsh then think of it this way, when was the last time you scrolled down past page one of Google?
Let’s say you were based in Nottingham, and I wanted a new carpet for an office there, and I searched for ‘commercial carpet fitting Nottingham’ (which I just did), and you weren’t one of the 17 names that came up on page 1, then I’m almost certainly not going to find you! Because I’m pretty confident that out of those 17, I’ll be able to find what I’m looking for.
And let’s be clear, this article is all about what are called ‘organic’ search results. When Google returns its search results, it gives you two types: organic and paid. Organic search results are the web page listings that most closely match your search query based on relevance. Four out of the seventeen results were paid ads and getting the best out of those is a whole separate subject.
Active marketing tool or brochure in a cupboard?
In my view, your website is an active part of your marketing strategy, or it’s a rather expensive online brochure that is effectively tucked away in an online cupboard where nobody can find it!
If you want your website to be an active part of your marketing strategy, and let’s face it what’s the point of it otherwise, it needs to be found on Google, preferably on the first page. And in order to achieve that, here are somethings you need to think about.
First things first - that’s mobile first
If you get an email from Google saying ‘user mobility issues’, it means your website is static, and it will not resize or rearrange the text and graphics to suit the device it was being viewed with. In other words, the person doing the searching was using a mobile device rather than a desktop.
‘Mobile first’, as the name suggests, means the design of the website, ie its underlying computer architecture, must start from the mobile end which has more restrictions, then expand its features to create a tablet or desktop version.
Google has long been saying that it will penalise web sites that are not mobile compatible and if your website is not mobile friendly, then you’ll probably be penalised in searches too.
Content is king
As well as the colours and the look-and-feel of your site, websites today are more about content than ever before. This is why it is essential that you consider the quality of your on-page copy, your page headings and descriptions. You should also consider the number of words you use in your copy - 350 to 500 words per page of ‘keyword rich’ copy will help you to feature well in searches.
What keywords will people use to find you?
After the copy itself, keywords are extremely important. You need to make a list of the keywords you would like to be found for and what people might type into their search bar when looking for your products or service. You can then write these into your copy and the web builders will do their bit behind the site to make them visible to search engines.
Ideally, you must have at least one image on each web page to help boost the keywords that search engines ‘read’. What you call the image and how you tag it’s important.
The image must have a title. Don’t call it ‘Image 1’, but instead use two or three of your keywords. There’s also another text box behind the image which carries what’s called an ‘alt tag’, and again this should be rich in keywords as it improves your chances of being found.
A blog or news page
Having a blog or news page is one of the easiest ways to upload new content to your website. Search engines love new content, which helps keep your site stay current and improves search visibility.
Google definitely doesn’t like it if you are not regularly adding new content. And what does it say about you and your firm if the latest ‘news’ is that you won a quality award in 2003? You wouldn’t be impressed if it were you looking for something, and neither will those people searching for what you have to offer.
Adding case studies is another way of not only demonstrating in detail what you do, but is a source of quality content, provided they’re up to date. If you add your case studies as PDFs, then they’re searchable and can be downloaded easily by visitors.
This is also an opportunity to add a lead generation form. A form gives you the opportunity to ask people to give you their contact details in return for downloading your PDF, and you can then use this information to make contact and follow up the lead.
You’re now encouraged to place web links to and from pages within your own website, as well as outbound links to external sites that you think will help the site visitor’s experience. If you are writing new content then you can build these links into your copy, and a content managed system like WordPress for instance, will prompt you to do this.
If you are active on social media, and you should be, then don’t forget to link your social media pages from your website.
A secure website is now essential. You will have spotted the term https that frequently appears before many website domains when you open them. The ‘s’ stands for secure, and Google understandably gives priority to sites that are secure. Previously this mainly applied to online shops, but now it applies to everyone.
Putting it all together
These are just some of the important things you need to think about when reviewing your website or creating a new one. But there are other elements that you can employ. For example, Google Analytics is a valuable free tool that you can use to measure visitor numbers, identify the pages they look at and how long visitors spend on your site.
Video is another fast-growing area for websites, social media and online marketing. There are lots of different ways to use video, so I will explore this in more detail in a future issue.
In the meantime, if you need more information, help with finding a good quality web service, content copywriting, or would like a brief analysis of your website as it stands, then call our helpline on 01773 712116 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be very happy to help.
And dare I say it, check out our website to see how many of the above boxes we tick and whether we practice what we preach. Let me know if we don’t.