In today’s Internet-age, it is imperative to have a website for your business. But it’s no secret that it can also be difficult to get your website noticed and seen by potential customers who aren’t already familiar with you.
That is where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes in. Search engine optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to your website by ensuring it appears high in search engine results.
Although the process has been around for a while, SEO is constantly evolving and is now a crucial aspect to include in your business and marketing plan.
To help you get started, we’ve created a list of essentials an SEO-friendly website should have. Taking these steps toward making your website more SEO-friendly can make a huge difference in your website traffic and online leads. Here are a few ways to get started.
1. Quality Content
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your website content is extremely important.
Not only is this where search engines will get the bulk of the information to index your site for keywords and relevant search results, but it also makes a huge difference to site visitors and potential customers.
If your website has little-to-no content, lacks quality information or contains typos, you are much more likely to have a high bounce rate and low conversion rate. Adding quality content to your website is an easy, yet essential step to ensuring your site is SEO- and user-friendly.
Once you have the content, it is also important to display it in a way that makes it easy for visitors to read, such as by creating bulleted lists and adding sub-headers to break up the content.
A well-written and clean page of content will always be rewarded in search engines meaning more hits and more leads.
2. User-Friendly Design
Similar to content, the design of your website plays an important role in both SEO and user experience. Despite the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” we are all guilty of it, and users certainly will judge your business based on your site’s usability or lack thereof.
While a blast from the past is nice every once in a while, a website where the design brings back memories of the dial-up days of the Internet is a not necessarily a welcome one.
Often, when we come across these sites, we form a quick opinion of the website and the business associated with it. This can cause visitors to jump to a number of conclusions, including that the site hasn’t been updated in some time and the information is outdated, or it lacks quality content.
Some key aspects of site design to keep in mind include:
- Your website design is your company’s first impression online and should be a welcoming refection of your business, what you stand for, and what you provide.
- Additionally, as you design your website make sure that it is still user-friendly and optimized for conversions.
- There is a fine line between a well-designed website and one that is over-designed, so be careful of that line. Sometimes a site layout might look great, but it isn’t necessarily user-friendly.
Lastly, make sure your site is designed in a way that isn’t distracting and also makes it easy for customers to navigate. This will not only help increase conversions, but can also lead to higher rankings in search engines, making you and your site more visible.
The accessibility of your website goes hand-in-hand with your website design in certain ways.
Google warned us about putting a higher emphasis on mobile-friendly sites and we’ve seen the results of this change in the algorithm in our own marketing experiences.
Those with mobile-friendly websites receive a higher ranking in search engines, while those who do not see a drop in rankings.
Adding a mobile configuration to your website is a great way to make your site more accessible to the population as a whole, but there are also segments of the population you should keep in mind as you develop your website to make it more accessible.
- Be Careful of Color Choices
With color deficiency or color blindness affecting an estimated 8% of the population, it may be important to monitor your color usage to make sure someone with this deficiency can easily use your site just as anyone else.
- Include Captions for Videos
If you include videos on your website, adding closed captioning is an easy way to make them more accessible to those who are deaf. You can also include a transcript of your video, which can actually improve your SEO ranking since it adds additional content.
- Use Unique and Descriptive Names for Links
Do not use “Click here” for hyperlinks in your copy. Instead, use a unique and descriptive phrase to hyperlink, such as “About Sixth City Marketing.” This allows screen readers to more easily find and identify links for those with visual impairments.
While these additions and changes may not necessarily make a sizeable impact when it comes to SEO, they can make a difference in how accessible your website is for customers.
4. Easy-to-follow URL Structure
The structure of your URL may not be at the top of your list, but it’s definitely something to consider when making your website SEO-friendly.
Your URL should be a clear, concise representation of your site and/or pages on your site.
The Moz Blog has a great list of best practices for structuring a URL, but here are a few main points to keep in mind.
- Make Sure the URL is Readable
This means ensuring that your URL doesn’t look like you hit your head on the keyboard a few times and that was that. The URL should give readers an indication of what is on the page. For instance, http://mydomain.com/best-sports-fails is a lot more readable than http://mydomain.com/nfp?post#h32.
- Keep it Short
A shorter URL is almost always preferred to a longer one. This has very little to do with search engines, which can process long URLs with little issue, and more to do with usability. Shorter URLs are easier to use on marketing materials, share on social media and remember for customers.
- Keywords are Okay, but Avoid Too Many
Including keywords in your URL can help improve your rankings in search engines such as Google and Bing. They can also help people find your site, but using too many or repeating keywords in the URL can make your site come off as “spammy” and discourage both search engines and visitors from rewarding your website.
5. Relevant Keywords
Just in case you are new to SEO, keywords are the words or phrases that users type into the search box of a search engine.
Since these are the terms that people will be searching to find your website, it seems logical that you would want to include these on your site.
Unlike the early days of SEO when you would be rewarded for the number of keywords on your website, search engines now place more emphasis on relevant phrases and keywords.
This is to help increase the user experience and decrease people just throwing keywords on a page in order to improve their rankings.
Including numerous keywords hasn’t changed, as the more keywords you have on a page, the better the reward from search engines. This merely means that you need to be strategic about how you incorporate keywords and you need to include them into quality, relevant content.
6. Image and Video
As with many of the other factors on this list, including images and videos on your website serves a dual purpose of improving SEO and user experience. Some aspects to remember include:
- Adding images and videos to your website creates a multimedia element to your content, which search engines contribute to having quality content and will reward you accordingly.
- If you choose to host your video on YouTube, you can improve your SEO even more. YouTube itself is the second largest search engine in terms of the number of queries and is now owned by Google.
Also, as previously stated, you can increase keyword usage and content in general by making sure you have descriptive alt-tags for images and transcripts of your videos.
7. Social Media
While a few years ago, it was uncertain how much of a role social media played in search engine rankings, with the Twitter-Google deal and the new Twitter algorithmic timeline the integration of social media into search rankings is becoming more evident.
Even before the deal between Twitter and Google came into play, social media was important for businesses to have and update regularly for a number of reasons.
- First, social media sites are often search engines in their own right. Each social media platform has its own search function where users can look up hashtags, people or related/trending topics.
- If you have a Twitter account with a strong following and you post regularly, for example, there are multiple opportunities for users to discover your business, especially with the new algorithm.
- Also, people are likely turn to their favorite social media platform to look up a business they’ve just heard about to learn more.
Another reason an active social media presence can help with SEO is that search engines often index them. For example, when I Google Sixth City Marketing the second listing after our website is our Facebook page, with our LinkedIn profile taking the fourth listing.
By utilizing these social channels we’re able to have a greater web presence and increase the opportunities for customer engagement. As you can see, social media, along with the other factors listed above, can be a great asset to your SEO arsenal when employed strategically.
Have a question about any of the topics we covered in the post or want assistance for your business? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to help!