Making Your Website Enhance Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
To be considered successful, and useful, a website needs to both attract and convert searchers and visitors. This is especially true for companies that rely on e-commerce on their website to generate a considerable portion of their sales. Optimizing your website to both get it ranked in the organic search results and converting visitors into customers is only common sense. You have the website, why not maximize its benefit? Do not doubt that your website itself is a major contributor or detractor from your rankings in the organic search results. An improved website can markedly improve your rankings, and traffic to your site. The answer to how to improve your site is SEO 101, i.e., execute the basic steps every SEO article and authority recommends. This article will cover those basics.
The underlying coding of your website is the first thing to check. Is it relying on Java or flash? Either is not acceptable in today’s world. Generally, they can’t be “read” by the search engines and thus your content can’t be indexed. Worse yet, the search engines may skip over the page entirely so even your “good” code is ignored. Fixing this particular problem is beyond the scope of this article, but generally, it means you need to employ a web designer to update your code. (Note that these comments do not address the visual appearance or navigation of your site. Those are a separate topic. In general, if your site is liberally using Java or flash, don’t bother reading the rest of this article. You need to solve these issues first because by themselves they will submarine your SEO efforts. Also, the code used on your site should be clean and not be too “clever”, i.e., making a lot of calls and using overly complex structures within the page. As a rule of thumb, if you can keep the overall page size to less than 1 MB and the number of calls under 40, it is good (and yes, that includes images). Have you “smushed” them yet?
Your SEO efforts can be greatly improved by using natural, flowing language with a focus on your important keywords (it’s hard to get ranked for a keyword when it doesn’t naturally occur in the text. Today, Google likes the keywords to appear in sentences; it helps Google with “conversational” indexing, which, with the growth in the use of mobile devices, is how a majority of searches are being conducted. You should aim for a minimum of 500 words on your page. Two thousand is even better, but that requires an entire rethink of your website and its structure. Repeating keywords in your text is good and modifying them works too. Google recognizes the similarity in most keyword phrases, i.e., car sales in Tampa is indexed the same as Tampa car sales or car sales in Tampa, so use variations in your writing. Keyword “density” is a measure of how much of your text is keyword-centric. Should not be less than 5% or more than 15%. Another way to stat it is that the keyword should be mentioned no less than three time or more than five on a single page (assuming it’s 500 words or so). Variations count as do titles (but not non-visual tags, i.e., H1-H5 tags, image tags, etc..
Your website coding should include header tags. No more than one H1 per page, but as many multiples of H2-H5 as you can fit in. Again, natural flow has some significance. Multiple header tags without reference is akin to the old “keyword stuffing”. Google doesn’t like it. If your site is a WordPress site, use Yoast SEO. Then, you won’t have to rely on the coders to do it right, you can do it yourself or have another non-coder do it. Headers tell Google and the other search engines what your content is about but in a more succinct manner. Tags are meant to be concise. Not more than 160 characters.
Your website needs to be understood by the person viewing it. This means: i) more words; ii) better organization of your content; ii) break down into small paragraphs (this helps use more header tags; and, iv) a lot of images (with tags) breaking up the content. Long paragraphs are deadly for conversions. Text boxes, bullet points, and buttons help with navigation and conversions. Believe it or not, your font has a definite impact on conversions. Thin, faint text is to be avoided. The “right” size matters (large enough to easily read but not so large it increases the page size. Think, and test, how it appears on a smartphone). The bottom line is that viewers “visibly inspect” a site to see if you have what they are looking for, so simplicity and logical separations, boxes, and headings are desirable.
Create/update your site map that includes your keywords. This means your URL’s and “snippets” should include the keyword. The site map is viewed as a positive by the search engines and will allow anyone looking for a specific page to find it. (NOTE: The site map your visitors’ access is different than the site map the search engines use. The visitor site map is a simple, English language structure map. The site map the search engines use is in code.) There are simple, free programs that will let you create a site map. Don’t need to be a coder to use.
Always use a good, strong title at the top of the page (this can also be your title tag). Makes sure to include one or two keywords in the title, but make sure it is “readable, i.e., makes sense to someone reading it. Should cover what is in content for the entire page, not a specific topic. Use sub-topic/headers for that. The title is the first thing people see, and read, when they come to your site. The title should be unique to that page, i.e., not used on any other page. There should be only one title/title tag on each page and should adhere to the 160 character limit.
Ever page should have a description. Often the first paragraph can be used for this, but it’s better to include a meta description that can be written more tightly and include more keywords. Keep in mind that Google and the other search engines will often use the description in the search results. So, take a look at your website’s entry in the search results. Does it best present what you want to say; is it truncated because it’s too long, etc. You don’t want the description to reflect badly on the company or not to use this opportunity to “sell” your company to the searcher.
Playing with the keywords is a way to steal an advantage in rankings for search results. Keep in mind that the longer the keyword phrase, the less competition there is for that phrase. “Fort Lauderdale car sales” has 15,400,000 competing websites; “Fort Lauderdale new vw car sales” has only 99 competing websites. (Of course, with fewer searches long-tail keyword phrases won’t see as much search traffic; but, if your site is not on the first page, you’re not going to see any sales from website traffic anyhow.) Also, using plural works also. Generally, Google and the other search engines will combine this for search, but not always. Using these techniques and variations can help get your website on the first page. Don’t ignore them.
“Anchor text” are the words highlighted to show a link to another page, section, or website. Use variations of the keywords for your anchor text. Do not use “Contact Us”. Use “Click here for more information on widgets”. Google and the other search engines see the entire phrase and relate it to the content it is linking to. Again, limit phrase to reaosnale length, i.e., 160 characters or less. Lastly, link your internal pages to each other. Google likes this. So, include one sentence on a page that says, “If you would like to know more aout how we build widgets, go here.” Have at least one intra-link on each page, five is even better. Lastly, try to include a footnote linking to yiour main pages on the Home Page; and, if you have any city pages (which we highly recommend, include a footer on the Home Page for these too. We don’t know why, but have seen it demonstrated time and again that those links prmote the page in the rankings.
The value of your website is attracting and converting visitors into customers; this is especially true for e-commerce sites. Don’t undervalue or undermine your website by not taking these simple steps to make it more relevant to the search engines and valuable to your company. We would be glad to help optimize your website and improve your search rankings. (Notice use of the keywords in the link!)