The technical aspects of your website go a long way to determining whether or not search engines recognize your site as relevant to a particular search query. Although quality content is essential, it won't get you far if your website doesn't have the right foundational technical features.
Here are some basics to start; use this list to make sure your website is set-up for success (regardless if you’re going DIY or hiring a website design company)
- First and foremost, make sure that your website is responsive - in other words, the site is built to adapt to any and all screen sizes (desktop, tablet, & mobile), providing a beautiful user experience each and every time.
- Make sure that your domain name indicates your business type and where you're based. If that's not currently the case, consider transferring to a new domain and forwarding all traffic from the old domain.
- Each page on the website should clearly identify your business name, what you offer, and where you are located.
- Put your company's address and phone number on every page. Search engines (Google uses this for local map listings) detect addresses and phone numbers, and it's quite helpful for local searches.
- Take a look at the site from a visual perspective. Is it visually pleasing? If not, you'll want to redesign it to make it more attractive, easier to navigate, and more modern.
- Create an email address specifically for the site, and use it for all relevant emails. This helps with link building.
- Go into your HTML code and optimize the SEO related meta tags. Remember, the keyword should be in the title tag, with a unique title meta tag for each page on the site; the keyword should also be in the H1 header on each page; the keyword should be in the text; and relevant images should have keywords in the alt tags and filenames.
- Create your own meta description for your homepage. The description exists to convince people to click on your link from the search engine results page, but it doesn't affect your overall search engine rankings - so your only goal is tomake it convincing (think sales). On the other site pages, it's usually enough to let the search engines produce the description using snippets from the site.
- Be sure to include a call to action (CTA) in your meta description, such as "Learn more about our affordable services...."
- Add a robots.txt. This lets you specifywhich pages the search engines should crawl. In addition, it makes it easier to track search engines because they download the file before navigating the site.
- It should be possible to accomplish the primary objective (what do you want your visitors to do when they get to your site?) from the homepage, and everything should require as few click as possible.
- Keep content local. And we do mean local - you can get as specific as mentioning the neighborhood you're in or where the nearest park is. It's much more feasible to get high ranking in local search results - not to mention, as a small business it's that local traffic which is most valuable to you.
- Use internal links. You can and should guide visitors to other pages on your site by creating internal links throughout your content. This lets Google associate certain keywords with landing pages, and it also makes it easier for visitors to find what they're looking for on your site.
- Don't over-optimize. As we mentioned above, your goal is to use SEO as a way to help search engines find your high-quality content. It's not to take advantage of the system with shady methods such as keyword stuffing. Google now penalizes websites that use these tactics, and rewards websites that have high-quality content.
Those are just 14 of the dozens of key ingredients that go into an optimized small business website. While some of the do-it-yourself website platforms appear to “create beautiful websites in just a few minutes”, there’s much more that goes into a small business website that you can’t see. Business websites need to perform, first and foremost. And to drive real results for your business (we’re talking a growth in business that allows you to hire new employees), then you should consider hiring a professional web design company.
To get a free estimate on a responsive, optimized website that gets real results, give us a call (888-717-4249) or shoot us a message. Our results speak for themselves; and we’d love to create a new website design for you at an affordable rate.
(featured image via Flickr)