As a website design and SEO specialist, I’m often asked by Illawarra business owners to run my eye over their websites and give feedback on any improvements that could be made. I’ve found that more often than not, it’s the same things that can be tweaked to provide a quick and easy improvement in how a website performs in search engine results. The good news is that a lot of these improvements don’t require a huge amount of technical skill. If you already know how to make basic updates to the content of your business website, you’ll be able to implement many of these changes yourself.
1. The Purpose of your Website
I often ask business owners this question and get a long pause in response, because they’ve never actually thought about it…
What is the purpose of your website?
Your website should have one or two defined goals and it’s important to be clear on what they are as the entire design of the website can change depending on what your hope to achieve.
Some examples of what your website’s purpose might be include:
- Brand awareness
- Online sales
- Getting people to sign up to a newsletter or give you their email address for future contacts
- Getting customers to visit your bricks and mortar business
- Do you want people to phone you?
- Make an online booking?
- Make a donation?
- Is the purpose of your website to educate people?
- Is your website there to give your business a more trusted feel and provide consumer confidence?
Once you’re clear about what your website goals are, you’ll be able to have a clear “call to action”, that tells website visitors what you want them to do. This could be an opt-in form, a “call now” button or making sure your address and phone number are clearly visible on every page.
2. Identify Relevant Keywords
Keywords (or key phrases) are the things we type in to Google, Bing or other search engines when we are looking for the answer to a question or to find a product or service.
If you are paying a professional SEO specialist to work on your website for you, they should be carrying out targeted keyword research. This process generally involves using specific software and online tools to compare and analyse the search terms internet users are using and then determine the best keywords for you to be focusing on.
In lieu of using an SEO consultant, you can at least brainstorm the keywords that you want your website to be focusing on and then allocate each page of your website to be based around a specific keyword. For example, a local fencer may choose keywords such as “colorbond fencing Wollongong”, affordable fencing Shellharbour” or simply “fencing Bulli”.
Use your chosen keywords in page titles, headings and your text on each relevant page.
3. Quality Content
Write original content. Don’t copy and paste a block of text from another website on to your own site – Google address “duplicate content” in their Webmaster Guidelines and warn that pages containing duplicate content may be adversely affected in their rankings or even de-indexed from search engine results entirely.
As tempting as it is to simply copy and paste chunks of text on to your website, it’s so worth the time to either pay a copywriter or write your own content for your business website.
On that note, make sure each web page contains enough text so that when someone lands on that page, they find something that answers their question. 500-1000 words per page is a great number to aim for – I usually tell people that any page on their website with less than 300 words needs filling out a little bit.
4. Optimised Images
Humans are pretty visual creatures and your choice of images on a website can really affect whether people choose to engage with your business or not. Just as I mentioned before, duplicate content is a bad move when it comes to search engine visibility, so if you’ve copied some images off Google to use on your website, it’s time to swap them out. If you don’t have some original images that you’ve either taken yourself or had taken by a professional, there are also lots of stock image online that you can use. Some of these stock images fall under Creative Common license and are free to use (sometimes requiring credit being given to the owner or artist) and some require paying for a license to use them.
Once you’ve made sure you’re using images that you’re actually allowed to be using on your website, it’s time to optmise them. The first step of optimising images is resizing. Image files that are huge take longer for a web page to load and will slow down the loading speed of your website. Slower load times in turn affect SEO as search engines will favour faster loading pages over slow ones in search engine rankings.
Another way you can optimise images is by labeling them with appropriate keywords. This can be done in both the image file and in the “alt text” function in your website. It’s easy to tell if your images have been optimised for keywords – ask me how!
No, i don’t think sleeping on it will help your website performance out (although I am a big fan of an afternoon siesta!). NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number. No doubt your business NAP is written on your website (well, if it isn’t – there’s another easy improvement you can make right now), but also in online directory listings such as Local Search, Google My Business, Yelp and social media platforms as well. It’s really important to make sure your NAP is consistent across all places that it’s found online. This means that if your address is 120 Smith Street, you write it this way across the board, not 120 Smith Street in some places and 120 Smith St in others. Also with phone numbers, don’t include an area code in some listings and no area code in others. Make it easy for search engines to realise that you are one and the same business everywhere that you’re mentioned on the internet…When you confuse Google, you lose!