03 Jun Free Advice: Top 10 “Must Do” List for Optimizing Websites
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As a marketing executive in the Chicago area specializing in print and online solutions, I’ve worked with thousands of small/medium size businesses. Many of these companies rely on my first-hand knowledge and experience with other clients to help them walk through the minefield that is the internet to help their business succeed.
In a local on-demand economy where you’re one of many businesses to choose from in a ten mile radius, and customer loyalty goes as far as the next discount or Groupon, it’s imperative that you make sure your business stands out. One of the best ways to stand out is by making sure your website is optimized for search engines to find you. Here are some best practices when starting to optimize your website to be found for search engines:
- Page Titles – Write unique page titles for every page on your website including the main keyword you’re trying to target on that specific page. These title tags should be around 60 characters in length.
- Meta Descriptions – Write unique meta descriptions for every page on your website including the main keywords you’re trying to target on that specific page. These descriptions should be around 156 characters in length.
- Heading Tags – Every page on your website should ONLY have 1 < h1 > tag. This should incorporate the main keyword or focus of that specific page. Every other heading should be H2 or H3 tags. Many graphic designers place multiple H1 Tags on your website because they focus on the “design” of your website, not the optimization and actual usefulness of the site.
- Image to Text Ratio – Many graphic designers who build websites rave about how clean the website needs to look and have images explain what your business is all about. This is true. However, remember that search engines are text based programs. They do not care if you have a picture of a family sitting around a campfire singing and playing with their guitar about how great your heating and air conditioning business is. It may be clever, but search engines won’t read it nearly as well as if you talked about your website. Search Engines rely on the text of the website to generate relevancy. Make sure that you are accurately describing each page of your website for the relevant content you’d like to be found for. Images speak 1000 words, but search engines are mainly blind to these. TEXT Content if most important for a website and imagery should be used to enhance the point you are trying to make about your business.
- Website Name Address Phone Number (NAP) Details – Your website should have the full name address and phone number on the footer of your website. If you happen to have more than one location, have a page on your footer for “Locations” and list every physical location on that page. Every physical location should have its own page with the full address and phone number on the page so search engines can validate it.
- Name Address Phone Number (NAP) Aggregates – The major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing have their own maps section which is very important to register. Make sure that your NAP from your google places page is embedded into your website on the contact page. Also make sure that you register your website with aggregator sites such as superpages.com, dexknows.com, Yelp.com and YP.com. These highly-trafficked websites are relied upon major search engines to verify and create a uniformed voice about your business. It’s important that there is no variation of your business’ NAP on these websites.
- Remove Inaccurate listings on the web – IF you have ever changed your name, business address, phone number, or used any type of tracking from advertising agencies in the past, you most likely have an inaccurate listing on the internet. It’s important to make sure that your information in cleaned up and accurate. You may be able to scrub the internet from these websites yourself but this can take a lot of time. There are many companies that offer this type of service.
- Reviews – Just because you’ve been in business for a long time, doesn’t mean people really know you. People YOU KNOW know you. This is one of the most fraudulent and ego-driven statements we hear business owners make. It’s mainly an ego based comment but doesn’t translate on the web. As consumers move in and out of the marketplace, experience commerce with other companies, or have potential negative experience from your company either directly or indirectly (friend or relative). Any equity you’ve received with a former client diminishes over a period of time. How many times have you heard someone leave your service due to a $50-100 savings from a competitor? It’s important to capture their positive experiences and harness it for your company. By requesting reviews from your clients you have the ability to reference a testimonial page not hosted on your website! Third party independent websites are increasingly important to capture reviews for prospects to choose your business. If you ever receive a negative review, reach out to the client in a professional matter.
- Off-Site SEO – It’s important to join a chamber of commerce, better business bureau, create local partnerships, create newsletters and blogs to generate links and content for your website. The adage of “Content is King” is still very relevant in today’s world.
- Mobile Friendly – Search engines like Google are starting to penalize websites that are mobile friendly. This penalty means falling farther and farther on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Industry experts have joked that the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google. Maintain the possibility to be found and chosen on these search engines by ensuring that your website is adaptive and responsive to all devices (computers, tablets, and smartphones).
By ensuring your website adopts this strategy you are well on your way to have an effective search engine optimization campaign. If you are ready to graduate from these 10 strategies and learn more about how to develop your website into a local marketing powerhouse, contact me through linkedin or contact me through the email address provided.