I think my new site should be no. 1 on Google search engine.
How come I can’t find my site on page 10?
When a new prospect tells me “I need a website built for my business”, s/he often loses sight of the goals. They might have an idea in their minds of what their website will look like or have looked at other sites that they liked. Others merely know that they need to have “one of those”. If you are an emerging entrepreneur, of course you have to have a website otherwise you would be left in the dark ages.
The most basic goal of the site is visibility. Do you want to sell your book, get more donations, sell your services or have more people read your blog? In theory you can achieve this goal with an ugly website. I worked on a search engine optimization project recently. The client spent thousands of dollars on advertising and tens of thousands of visitors came to his site. The goal of his site was to go viral, and he did – at 50c per visitor. How much are you willing to spend to have your post go viral? What happens if you don’t have a large advertising budget? Many of my clients are emerging entrepreneurs and they are looking for a budget solution. Maybe they have a good basic website. Is there a way to increase web site traffic fast without spending thousands of dollars?
The answer is no and yes. If you have recently published your website then perhaps your friends and acquaintances will take a look out of courtesy. If nothing changes on your site, there is no reason to go back to it. Your site is like a grain of rice in a sack. There are many, many similar sites attempting to reach the same people that you are trying to reach.
How can you overcome this problem if you have a small budget? When someone is looking for a service or a business like yours, they will first go to a search engine and type in a search phrase. In order to be visible to your audience, you need to optimize you website for the search engines and attempt to match those search results. The more compatible your site is with Search Engine standards, the easier it will be for them to find you.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
There are two kinds of search engine results: The first is paid advertising. You will see these results in the top of the search engine results. The second is known as organic optimization. That means that a person who understands search engine optimization has taken specific steps to make that website more accessible to search engine bots. With a small investment, we can provide the search engines with the data they are looking for and improve our visibility chances.
At this point people tell me that their “web designer took care of all of that”. If you want to live in a house, you do not have to be a builder. When your builder has completed your house, you understand a little about tiles, bathroom fixtures and kitchen cabinets. Do you expect your builder to do the landscaping as well as the build the house? In the current budget market few web developers or designers can afford to include more than basic Search Engine Optimization in the price of the site. From a personal perspective, I add the website to search engines and create an account on Google Webmaster tools. Any further effort on my part will raise the cost of the site, and price me out of my market. In looking at some of the basics of search engine optimization, I see that is true in most cases.
How to increase website visibility on Google and other search engines?
Looking at this topic very broadly, we can divide the criteria into 3 main factors:
- User accessibility. Is it easy to navigate your website?
Always remember that the site must be easy for humans to navigate. If I am looking for some specific information and I need to click three times to find it, the chances are that I will abandon the site because the next site in the search engine results page (serp) will give me that information immediately.
2. Ranking factors – these may be compared to grades assigned by search engines. For example site speed – the time that it takes for your web page to load.
3. Non – ranking factors – these help you to be found, but the search engines do not grade your site if you have them. For example, keywords.
Nope….that’s not all….
There are a couple more elements that you should consider when performing SEO.
When a pilot climbs into the cockpit of an aircraft there is a checklist of tasks that need to be performed before take-off. Would you fly with a pilot who skipped this check?
My organic SEO check list is a deep dive of almost 100 items that I audit using different data analysis tools. When I provide SEO help to small businesses, I deliver this analysis to the client with a short list of the Top 10 most important items. They discuss the list with the web developer and content provider who will help them improve their site. This list changes from site to site. There are some items that are more predominant.
My Top 10 SEO tips for a website:
- Site Speed
- Key words
- Image Alt Text
- 301 Redirects
- 404 – Not found page
- Heading Hierarchy
- Site Map
- Content – a ranking factor.
Is there something unique about your content that people will not find elsewhere? If you are offering a service, have you described the service in detail? Users tend to search for detail rather than a general service. Perhaps you are a builder who also performs kitchen renovations. If someone searches for “kitchen remodeling with granite counter-top” are any of those words included in your service description? Often the content is too sparse. Setting up a website with lean content is a good idea for an overview, but if a user wants to learn more about your capabilities, s/he should be able to click and get an idea of the finer details.
Search engines will promote your site if you have new content. I encourage people to blog if they have static or informational websites. This provides the change in content that search engines are looking for. In addition, blogging can promote your brand if you are able to entertain and inform your visitors. Consider having someone help you if you find it challenging to write blog posts.
QUOTE: “Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors.” Google, 2017
- SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – This is now a ranking factor.
It means that the connection between your hosting server and the client’s browser is encrypted. If your url starts with “https” you have SSL. Many hosting companies provide an SSL certificate free.
- Site speed – How long does it take for your page to load?
Speed is more important than “toys”. For example, having a video loop on the banner of the Home page looks impressive, but if it is taking too long to load, then consider having a still image with a link to be displayed below the fold to YouTube or other video hosting sites for that video.
If someone were waiting at the bus stop and viewing your site on their mobile device, would they wait for that element to load that is slowing down your page? Perform a website load test to see how fast your site is. It is preferable to have something simple that allows your site to be superfast.
- Responsiveness –this is a ranking factor.
What does your website look like on a mobile device? If you have an HTML site that was built several years ago, perhaps it is visible, but you need to zoom and scroll to read the text. Google has a separate index for these sites that are only desk top friendly. If you are using an emailing service, check what your emails look like when people open them on mobile.
- Key words – not a ranking factor.
There are analysis tools that can help you perform keyword research for content marketing. Better results are served if you provide a phrase of 4-5 words known as long tailed keywords. For example, if you have an ecommerce site selling jeans, then it will be almost impossible to rank for the word “jeans”, however you might be able to rank for “relaxed fit black jeans”. It’s also a good idea to check what words your competitors are ranking for.
- Alt Text – Alternative text that describes your images.
There are 3 reasons why you should include this:
- Search Engines do not know what you have in your images unless you tell them. Preferably you will use keywords in these image descriptions.
- People who have poor eyesight and use screen readers will know what is in the image.
- If the link between the image and the page is lost, people will know what you intended to place there.
- 301’s – This is a signal to the search engine that the url has moved permanently and is being redirected.
Have you moved your site from one url to another, like http to https? Have you changed the title of a blog post? If someone searches for the link to that previous url, it will no longer be there. In order for the user to find the same content, we redirect from the old url to the new url.
- 404 page – Have you ever searched for a link to a website only to be provided with an error message saying that the page could not be found?
How about providing some options on this page, like a search box, navigation menu or list of previous blog posts?
- Heading hierarchy – This part of the page structure organization is important for search engine bots and screen readers.
The title of the page or blog post has a level or tag of H1 in the heading hierarchy. If you have an H3 before an H2, then it is confusing to the robot. In general, only the page or post title should be H1. You can assign H2 to the next heading on your page and have multiple H2’s. Make sure that you maintain the correct order. If you need to make the text larger, use styling to achieve that. Wave is a browser extension tool that you can use to check page structure.
- Site map – Create a site map and display it in the footer of your website providing links to all of your pages.
If you have a large site, then you may like to have a separate site map page and provide a link to the page in the footer of the site.
If you are interested in learning more about an organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) audit, please contact me.
What factors annoy you most when you visit web sites? Feel free to comment or email me to let me know. Your pet peeve might be included in my “100 Website must have’s”.
Featured Image :