You’ve finally finished your website (or hired someone to build it) but you’re just not seeing the visitors you had hoped for. You’ve invested your time and money—possibly blood sweat and tears—into it, yet there’s only a few blips on your analytic timeline. Getting more people to visit your website isn’t easy but these ten tips will help to make sure you’ll have your foundation in place.
But first, let’s talk a bit about what search engines are looking for.
A search engine is only as good as the results it delivers to those searching.
With over 530,000 new websites launched every day (siteefy) there’s certainly a lot to sort through and choose which ranks on the first page of their search results. To ensure they serve the right websites to the right search queries they must do their best to understand what the website is about and to who it’s relevant. Google, for example, uses over 200 ranking factors to match a website with a search query. Some of these factors hold more weight than others, but this is a shifting system and the importance of each fluctuates as search engines are able to understand more about the websites they crawl.
That’s to say; when you’re developing a website, you’re doing so for two very different “readers”. The visual elements and the marketing (the front end) of your website is, for the most part, designed and written for human readers. The website’s code, optimization, organization, and content (the back end) are all things that need to be done in a way that makes it as easy as possible for these search engines to understand.
Now more than ever, your content—copy writing, images, and articles—need to be created in such a way that both humans and robots can get equal benefit.
So, with that out of the way, on to the tips!
1: Keywords aren’t as ‘key’ as they used to be
One method of ranking that almost all of my clients know about and mention to me are keywords; and for good reason! Keywords used to be an incredibly important factor when it came to ranking websites. However, that’s not so much the case anymore. Sure, keywords are still important but they don’t carry nearly as much weight as they once did.
Search engine algorithms like Google’s have gotten incredibly complex over the years and are able to understand what a web page’s content is—gone are the days where a keyword had to appear in an article at least 7 times. And this is a great thing, really, it helps make the articles found online less repetitive and easier for people to read as they’re not stuffed with these keywords where they feel shoehorned in simply for ranking purposes. This also means that one can’t lean on keywords like we used to.
Takeaway: Don’t sweat adding your keywords anywhere you possibly can, it isn’t going to benefit your website as much as you hope, it’s adding an unnecessary layer of repetitiveness to your copy writing, and in some cases can even lower your ranking.
2: Pique the Interest of Would Be Visitors
I’ve found that many site owners neglect their metas. Metas are the title and brief description for a page of your website, it’s what’s displayed in search results.
Take advantage of writing your own rather than relying on the search engine to fill this spot in. This is an opportunity to write a compelling reason a user should click on your search result rather than the others on the page. Keywords are more important here than in your articles and copy writing and should be used (within reason) in both your meta title and meta description.
Takeaway: Meta descriptions are your chance to write engaging copy to pique the interest of people searching for your product or service. Adding custom metas to each of your pages allows you to showcase the information found on your pages that’s most important to your customers.
Note: We’re on the verge of a fairly substantial shift and Google has gone on record to say that their algorithm is close to becoming capable of curating these metas itself. By this, I mean that when this new tech is launched, you shouldn’t need to focus quite as much on these as the search engine will use the best snippet from within your page or article for the specific search query. When this happens and the impact this change has is better understood by the web development community I’ll update this section of the article.
3: Google’s My Business Listing + Others
Too many times I’ve seen businesses fail to set up their listings and suffer for it.
If you don’t have a Google My Business listing stop reading and go create your profile, I’ll be here when you get back.
Google’s My Business Listings, along with Bing, Yahoo, and the other major search engines is an incredibly effective way to increase traffic to your website. Add to this the benefit of acquiring reviews from your customers (which is a trust signal to search engines), an easy way for people to contact you, and the ability to be displayed within Google’s “Map Pack”.
One thing to note is that when you write your contact information, make sure that you format it the exact same way everywhere it’s found online. If you write your phone number on your website as (123) 456-7890 don’t write it in your My Business listing as 123-456-7890. It’s a minor detail, but it does have an impact!
Takeaway: Add your business to any online listing relevant to your industry. For search engines, that’s Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yahoo Small Business. Industry specific listings are out there as well. For example, if you’re in the home improvement sector Houzz would be an ideal place to set up a business listing.
4: Content is King!
I touched on content briefly in the keywords section, but let’s take some time to expand on what both your customers and search engines are looking for.
We know that content needs to be readable to both humans and ‘robots’, but what does that mean? Google and other search engines are quickly becoming more capable of determining the content of a website without the use of now outdated SEO efforts like keyword stuffing. This means that rather than focusing on making sure your page or article repeats your keyword and key phrases as often as possible, you’re free to write copy that’s more satisfying to your human readers.
You may have read articles that have been ‘built’ for SEO purposes, they’re usually pretty easy to spot when you know what you’re looking for; and it’s pretty annoying to a reader. With the shift to user intent, articles can now be much more conversational and or written in a way that’s far more enjoyable to the reader than in the past.
5: Your About Page is Most Likely Failing You
Your About page most likely could use a bit of sprucing up. It’s not typically a landing page or a sales page—there’s no real ROI for an About page, so why would you spend time optimizing the content when there’s clearly more important pages elsewhere on your website?
On average, across all industries, a website’s About page is usually in the top 2nd to 3rd most visited pages. This means that it’s prime real estate to give your visitors more information about you – but more importantly about how you can help them with their problem. Most About pages don’t do this though, most drone on and one in the third person musing over their history, company timeline, awards, and other—let’s face it—information that a potential customer really doesn’t care about. Your customers want to know how you can help them solve a problem, not how many awards you’ve won.
So why are they on the about page then? They want to know more about how you’re able to help them. Noting your awards, history and all that does have a place on your About page, but try not to make it the focus. Instead, make it a conversation with your reader. Write your about page as if you’re speaking directly to that one person who’s reading it at that particular time and steer the conversation back to the ways you’re able to help them achieve their goals or solve their problems and end with a solid CTA (Call to Action).
6: The Nitty Gritty of Techie Stuff
At this point we’ve touched on copy writing and exterior factors, but what about the back-end stuff? There’s an abundance of things you can do to increase your rankings behind the scenes, but for this write-up I’m going to focus on the more simple (and often overlooked) things you can do right now.
Implement the right tags: H-tags to be specific. H-Tags is an HTML markup that indicates a heading within a website page. These tags are used in sequential order from H1 to H6, the lower the number, the more importance search engines put on that text. Your title should always be an H1 for example and you should only ever have one H1 tag on a page. H2 tags are the second most important and are typically used to break up the H1 content into sections. The titles of each of these tips are H2 tags for example). H-tags should also be in order on a page, meaning don’t begin your page with an H2 title with an H1 further down the page.
Alt Text: Alt Text is helpful for two reasons, firstly it adds a description to each of the images used on your website. Search engines still struggle to determine what the content of an image is—alt text allows you to describe what’s in your image so they’re aware of it. This then increases the chances of these images being shown in Image Search Results. Another benefit to alt text is that it helps those who have poor or no eyesight. If someone is visiting your website and they’re using a screen reader for example, your alt text will be read aloud so this visior can also be benefited by the image you’ve chosen. When writing alt text, don’t try to go overboard with keywords (we already know that they’re not as important as they used to be) and instead describe the content of the image the best you can, as if you’re describing it to someone who’s unable to see it.
Image Optimization: You can upload any image and display it on your website, but that’s not ideal. When adding images to your website try to resize them to whatever size the page calls for, and make sure to compress them prior to uploading as well. This way, you’re displaying the same image but rather than using a massive 4mb image you’re using a resized and compressed image that’s a light lighter, around 300kb. Optimized images increase the speed of your website considerably. If you need a free online service that does a fantastic job of compressing images while keeping their quality, take a look at Optimizilla.
7: You Have Less than 3 Seconds!
Speaking of speed, your website should load in less than 3 seconds. While browsing, users tend to bounce back to the search results if the page they’re visiting doesn’t load quickly – I’ve done it and I’d be willing to bet you’ve done it too. So how do you make sure your website is loading as quickly as possible?
Use Caching: Caching works by storing some of your website’s data on your users devices to re-access the next time they visit your site. This way the next time your visitor lands on your page, it will use this data and load much faster than it did the first time they visited.
Add a CDN: A CDN or Content Delivery Network functions as a geographically distributed group of servers that work in conjunction with with one another to increase the delivery of your website’s content. This allows your website content to be delivered to your users via a server closer to them, thus reducing the latency. An added benefit of using a CDN like Cloudflare is you’ll be provided with an SSL certificate if you don’t already have one.
Optimize All Images: Optimizing your images has been mentioned previously in this article, but it’s an important speed factor so it certainly has a spot on this list.
Insure Your Code is Clean: Regardless of building your website from scratch or using a page builder, it’s important to double check that the code that’s written is clean and follows standard practice. Some page builders are better than others in this regard, so a bit of research might be necessary to choose the platform that works best for you.
You can test your website’s speed and optimization for free using a service like GTMetrix.
8: Shout From the Mountain Tops
Build it and they will come isn’t a sentiment that can be said about websites. If you already have a large group of customers or followers you may see results faster, but doing a bit of marketing will help to increase the amount of visitors to your site. It makes sense written down, but in my experience it’s not as common a practice as one would think.
When your new website launches, write about it on your social media pages, contact your chamber of commerce and make sure it’s listed, tell your customers about the new launch and new functionality you’ve implemented for their benefit.
Every time you post a new article or blog on your website, share the link on your social media pages and, if it makes sense for your industry, place a link in your email signature.
The goal is to link to your website wherever possible (when it makes sense to do so) and drive people to your website where they’ll be less distracted and where you’re able to track what they’re doing on your website using an analytics system like Google Analytics.
9: Ask for a Link
Back-links from trustworthy sources can be a huge positive trust signal to search engines that your website contains content that’s informative and relevant.
When you write an article on any given topic, reach out to other websites connected to your topic or industry that may want to quote you or link to your article.
Find broken links and request that your website be used in its place. Broken links are no good and no website owner wants them. If you notice a broken link in an article that you’re reading that used to link to an article similar to one that you’ve written, reach out to the website owner and ask if they’d like to use your article to replace the link that isn’t working anymore. You might be surprised at how often they’ll be keen to do so!
10: Google Search Console + Others
Add your website to Google Search Console. Adding your site isn’t mandatory, Google and other search engines will eventually find and crawl your site, however adding your site yourself has a few advantages. Your site will be more likely to be indexed sooner and when it is you’ll have a wealth of information about how people are finding your site, how it’s ranking for different search queries, and a whole lot more.
When you do connect your website to Google Search Console, you’ll also want to add your sitemap to make it easier for them to crawl the content on your website.
Bonus: Reviews! Ask for them, it’s really that simple!
Reaching out to past customers and requesting a review takes almost no time at all and the benefits of doing so can be massive.
Send people interested in writing a review to your Google My Business account. This will help with those trust signals I keep talking about, add additional social proof for your business, and once you have these reviews you can then use them on your website itself.
My email signature, for example, has a line requesting a review – not all my clients will use it, and for those that don’t, I’ll reach out and ask for one. In my experience about 90% of people will be happy to write one.
On the topic of reviews, in some cases you can try to guide what they write about. There’s a difference between a review that says something to the effect of “Matt is wonderful to work with and he’s just the nicest guy” and a review that touches on what you did to solve their problem. Remember, people want to know what you can DO for them, and hearing what problems you solved for past customers is far more impactful than knowing that you’re just a super great person.
If you have questions or need a hand with any of the tips in this post…
Reach out and ask! I’m usually able to respond to emails quickly while I’m in the office and would love to take a look at your website to see if there’s anything that you can be doing that you’re not. I offer a free website audit as well if you’re looking to see what could/should be done to help increase conversions and boost your rankings.