One of the questions I get asked most often when working with a client is “When will my website show up on the first page of Google?” I bet you’ve been asking the same thing. Think of this as a marathon, not a quick sprint to search rank glory. It takes time for your site to get indexed and start showing up in Google’s search results.
There are a number of factors that contribute to your website’s ranking on Google and it’s not just about keyword stuffing or backlinks any more. It’s becoming more and more tied to the user experience – and for good reason. When users are happy, Google is happy because that means people will continue to use it for their online searching needs.
Not sure where to start when it comes to optimizing your business site? Here are 3 things you can do to your website to make Google love your website:
- Make it mobile friendly. This is a HUGE one. Whether you’re driving your website or working with a designer, make sure your site is responsively designed. This is just a fancy way of saying your site will automatically format itself based on the user’s device. The good news is if you are working on building a WordPress site, most all new themes have been designed responsively. If you are working with a website designer they should automatically include this in your project. When your site is mobile friendly, visitors have a better user experience and that’s good news for everyone. So what do you do if you have a website built on an older theme that is not mobile friendly? Well, you could create a mobile version of the site, but it would probably make more sense (and cost the same or less) to just redo the site with a responsively designed theme. Not sure if your website is mobile friendly? Use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to check.
- Make it load faster. Have you ever landed on a website and patiently waited for the images to load? Yea…we’ve all been there. Guess what? Google doesn’t like it. And, frankly, neither do your site visitors. According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of Web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. In fact, they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. Yikes. So how does one go about making their website faster? The most obvious way to improve site load time is by compressing the file sizes of all your images. I see this a lot. Business owners get professional headshots and branding photographs for their site, and they simply upload the images they receive from the photographer. Y’all, don’t do this! Your photographer is sending you (or they should be) hi-resolution, print quality images. Those babies are BIG, we’re talking like 5 megabytes and up. Please, please reduce the file size before you hit the upload button. You can easily do this by using something free like Tiny PNG or resizing the images in Adobe Photoshop.
- Make it full of awesome content. You’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned keywords yet. I’ll tell you why. You can stuff keywords all day long, but if you don’t have quality content that corresponds with those keywords, then you’re doing your website a disservice. Remember when we talked about making users happy? Well, Google knows when you do and don’t provide unique, quality content to visitors – and when you don’t, they’ll serve up someone else’s site that does. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go build out 20 pages and slap some copy on them. In fact, that’s the last thing I want you to do (read more about 5 things every small business website needs here). It means that you should be optimizing every piece of content currently on your site. If you have a WordPress site, an easy way to do this is by using the free version of the Yoast SEO plugin – it’s my favorite search engine optimization plugin and is super easy to use. You should be optimizing keywords, meta descriptions, titles, and improving readability, which can be done by including bullets, paragraph breaks, sub headers, images and links. And if you have a blog, you should be doing all of those things for each post.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of things you can do to improve your Google search ranking, but it’s a great start. Have specific questions about your website? Send me a message; I’d be happy to take a look.
I’m currently working on a website refresh for one of my clients and we’ve been talking a lot about pages, layout and what exactly she wants to accomplish. She’s built a solid client base for her service-based business, but she’s looking to branch out and really beef up her email list – but there’s no trace of an opt-in on her current site.
This really got me thinking about business sites in general. Do business owners know what basic items should be included on their site? Does your site make that crucial first impression last or fall completely short? Aside from ensuring your brand identity is consistent, authentically you and appeals to your ideal customers, here are 5 things every small business website needs:
- An opt-in. You might be saying, “Jen, I don’t have a blog or send out a newsletter, why would I need an opt-in on my site?” Here’s the deal. You’ve spent all this time, blood, sweat and tears in building your site (too much?) – you get the point, a lot of effort goes into building a kick ass business website. You’ve done all your homework, built an incredible brand identity, have completely nailed your website, AND people are visiting your site! And then they leave. Placing an opt-in on your website (at least three on the homepage is ideal) allows you to take them from just visiting to staying for the party. And that party is you, my friend. Whether you’re offering free content (one of my favorite things and something I think everyone should do) or want to send them a quick note about your Facebook community, using an opt-in is powerful. And it’s a great way to build your email list. I’m working on juicy freebies for you now, but in the meantime, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you won’t miss out!
- A user-friendly navigation menu. Y’all, I can’t stress this one enough. Please, please make it easy for people to peruse through your site. What do you do when you can’t find what you’re looking for on a company’s site? You bounce right off don’t you? That’s why you should make it super simple for users to find EXACTLY what they are looking for once they land on your website. My recommendation is no more than five pages in the header menu and no more than three pages deep in the subheads. I’m also a big fan of ensuring the logo on your homepage is linked so that when people click on it from any page on your site it takes them back to the homepage. Bonus: That saves you from including “Home” as one of your menu items.
- Your contact information. I want you to go to your website right now and make sure you have a phone number, an email address or a contact form on your “Contact” page. Ideally, you’ll include a contact form and I’ll tell you why. You want to make the contacting you process simple and quick. If you just have an email address, then I have to either copy and paste your email address into my mail client or I click on the email address and have to wait for my mail client to load. This is what we call friction. And friction can cause hot leads to fizzle fast. Additionally, if you have a physical location consider including the full address as well as a map (this is easy to embed on your site using Google Maps).
- Client testimonials. What do you do when you’re shopping around for items on Amazon, or searching on Google for a local business. Well, if you’re like me and other the 91 percent of U.S. consumers, then the answer is read the reviews. People want to know what it’s like to work with you from someone like them. You can toot your own horn all day long, but when it comes from somebody else it holds more value. Client testimonials are golden and you should be putting them on your website. You can feature them at the bottom of your services page or give them their own page. Either way, use them to your advantage!
- Your social media links. If you’re serious about buckling down and building your online presence, then you need to be using social media. I know, I know, you’ve got a billion other things to do, but we are in the digital age and people are trying to find you where they hangout the most – on social media. If you’re totally new to social media, don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with one social media network and make it awesome. That’s the one you’ll want to link on your website. If you already are engaging on more than one social network, then make sure you link to all of them on your website. If you’re doing your own website, most WordPress themes will include a customizable area for social media, and all you have to do is type in the links to your profiles.
There you have it! 5 things every small business website needs that will in turn enhance your branding, capture leads and encourage engagement. Remember, your website is where you shine online, so make it authentically you and always work on making improvements to it.
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