Like everything in life, first impressions matter. Search engine results included. The higher your site is on a search engine result, and the more polished it seems, the more likely web users are to choose it over a competitor.
These tasks are what I call maintenance duties that will help your website perform better on search engines. The good news is they’re backend website-related tasks that you need to do only once or twice a year or when your company has a major structural change. On paper, these tips seem minor, but they can play a big role in improving how well your website ranks. They’re not exciting like blogging or email marketing, but they’ll have a positive impact on your overall organic traffic.
Content Marketing Basics: Search Engines & SEO
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably a little familiar with search engines. Google in particular, which is king. It owns 76% of all search engine traffic. A typical web user seeking information will punch in a few words related to it. These words are called keywords.
As an example, I wondered this morning who Broncos are playing this weekend, and I typed into Google: “broncos football schedule”.
Because NFL has optimized their website well (Search Engine Optimization or SEO), it is the very first result for my search. Below that, there are several other sites with similar information. Where your website lands on the first page is referred to as page rank. The higher up on a search page your website is, the more important or relevant Google has deemed your site. This is important because studies show that when you’re #1 in search engine results, you get 33% of traffic for that particular set of keywords. The 2nd slot gets only 17.6%. And from there, the percentages get even smaller.
What This Means for You
Web users are inherently lazy. As a rule, they will not search two or three pages to find your business. They’ll go for the top two or three results on the first page. That means the top three websites gets all the traffic, all the leads, and all the money.
“What’s the point, then?” Yes, it’s tough to get your website to rank well, especially if your business website uses a common keyword (eg ice cream, auto mechanic, IT support), but in addition to organic traffic which in turn means more sales/leads/conversions, the higher your site is, the more authentic and trustworthy you seem.
Which would you prefer to shop at for outdoor goods: a random ecommerce outdoor store on the 20th page of a search result or on the first page? If that ecommerce store showed up on the first page, you might be more willing to give it a shot even if it’s an unfamiliar business. Psychology is weird, yo.
There are things you can do to improve your website’s ranking. And that brings us back to the actionable tips.
Now, let me be clear: these tips are not magic wands. Depending on your website’s core product/service, they might not have obvious measurable outcome. You won’t magically see a 25% boost in web traffic. But they will boost your organic traffic.
Schema – or “structured data” – is a way for you to communicate to Google and the other search engines what your website is about. The better search engines can understand your website, the higher they will rank your site.
Schema is a very versatile tool, and you can get very specific with it. For example, if you have a cooking website, your recipes can be tagged with various schema markups to that helps search engines refine their results.
A web user can drill down their results using criteria like ingredients, prep time, calories, etc.
Even for non-ecommerce and non-b2c websites, schemas are useful. Websites can use more general categories and tags like “blog”, “Aboutpage,” “checkoutpage,” “webpagefooter,” “service,” and many more. The list is continuously being expanded.
About once or twice a year, check for new schema that are relevant to your business and update your site to incorporate them.
Not naps. N.A.P. as in:
Name, Address, Phone.
Make it stupid-easy for your customers and leads to find you. Customers are not going to go on a scavenger hunt to find your current phone number or email. If the first one they try doesn’t work, they’ll move on to your competitor.
Make sure your contact information is correct and up-to-date on not just your website, but also on other platforms like your Google Business page, Yelp.com, LinkedIn, business listing sites, and site aggregators. Often when businesses move locations or change their phone numbers, they forget to update this information on third-party platforms.
The schema local-business markup can also be used to help communicate to Google your current, correct contact information.
3. Optimize Your Social Media Channels
Even if you’re not active on social media channels, you should at minimum have an account on the major platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube, and Messenger. Also customize the marketing collateral to fit your existing business’ branding.
The schema markups can also be used to specify a website’s social media profile, and that in turns makes these profiles appear on Google Knowledge Graph.
By creating a social-media schema, you’re making it even easier for your customers/website visitors to find you and communicate with you.
To that end, make sure your front-facing social media channels are top-notch and is consistent with your company’s branding even if you’re not actively using it to promote your website. In other words, don’t have a generic or default social media channel. Customize it and make sure it fits with your company’s existing brand.
4. Meta-Description (aka Website Snippets)
When web users search for companies’ sites, the website snippets are the first thing they see. A website snippet should communicate what the site is about in a way that fits with its branding. Web users will be more likely to click your link instead of another competing that lacks the pertinent information.
Here’s what mine looks like (as of Sept 2019):
Website snippets are also a good place to incorporate SEO keywords, which improves search engine results. This site’s snippet uses: content, marketing, and strategies in the meta description. Don’t go overboard with SEO keywords though.
Update this description as often as necessary. Realize, though, that it typically takes a couple of weeks before Google updates it.
The more polished your website looks on a search result page, the more “professional” it seems. This boosts your chances of a user choosing you over your competitor. First impressions are critical in many aspects of a business. Your website included.