A website is a must-have item for any small business owner. But, just having a site isn’t enough, and it’s hard to know what you can do to ensure that your site will work for your business.
A successful site needs to first be built correctly (so you can easily update it, your audience can easily navigate it, and google can see it), and it needs to be continually optimized in order to convert prospects into consumers.
While having a professional team continually caring for your site for you is a great idea, it’s often not within the budget of a small business. However, understanding what your site needs will help you know what you can do yourself, and what you should hire a professional to do for you. Take a look at our top website optimization tips for small businesses:
1. Have a Professional Website Design and Brand.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and it will boost your credibility. Starting off with a strong foundation is key.
- Be sure your brand is on-point and geared towards your business goals.
- Use your brand colors, logo, and branded images throughout your site.
- Avoid stock themes as your competitor could be using the same one as you.
- Stock images are a great resource, but be sure to customize them for your brand.
- Select fonts that are on-brand (i.e. don’t use Comic Sans on a professional services site, and do use fun fonts on a child care site).
- Limit fonts to accessible web-friendly fonts. Be sure they are legible, and sized appropriately for all devices (including phones), and don’t use multiple fonts on one page (it clutters the presentation and makes the page slower to load).
- Be 100% sure that your site is compatible with mobile devices. It can be either responsive or adaptive, but it must must must be view-able on a phone.
It’s been proven time and time again that simple is better.
- Keep your content organized in a logical, and easy to navigate format.
- Make it very easy to contact you through your website. I mean really simple and idiot proof. Include a form, email address, and a phone number so they can pick the easiest way for them to contact you.
2. Tend to Your Navigation, URLs, and Links.
Links should point to you, from you, help the user, and be relevant.
On your site:
- Keep your main navigation clean and relevant.
- Don’t clutter it with links to every single page on your site – link to top level pages and use sub navigation on those top level pages to help users navigate further into your site.
- Be sure your navigation is mobile friendly.
- Link to other pages on your site within your content to help readers, and google, know you have more relevant content to see.
- Link to other sites, but only when relevant. Never link just to link.
- Structuring your sites URLs to make sense helps users and search engines alike. Don’t settle for system defaults like “www.mysite.com/p?1234”, use relevant URLs like “www.mysites.com/descriptive-words-here.”
- Don’t create full blown pages for dated content, create posts in your blog for time sensitive content.
- Make sure links, buttons, and any clickable element looks like you should click it.
Bonus Tip: If you are running a time sensitive promotion, and want / need a page vs. a post, create a URL that you can reuse (like “/current-promotion”). This will allow visitors to come back and find future promotions as well as allow you flexibility with your layout.
Off your site:
- Do get other sites to link to your site. It’s amazing what a simple email pointing out relevant content on your site will do. Ask them to include links to your content on relevant pages on their site, often they will be happy to have a new resource to share with their audience.
- Link exchanges (one site linking to your site in exchange for a link from your site) are not going to boost your SEO. Only relevant links will have any positive impact, and low quality links can actually hurt your rankings.
3. Always Be Writing for Your Website.
Write for the reader, oh and google reads your site too.
- Keep content relevant and talk about items that are important to your audience.
- Don’t keep it short and sweet. Readers want information.
- If you provide relevant, detailed information, they are going to stay on your site longer. They will not head back to search results to find better content. They are more likely to purchase from you, the expert.
- Using words that your audience searches for will help search engines send them to your site.
- Write new content regularly—you don’t have to write every day, but at least once a month at a minimum.
- The more often you update your site (blog posts, new products, etc.) the fresher your site appears to all of your readers (google included).
- Make sure your content is quality though, don’t just add content to add content. Thin content is not going to help your site.
- Use headlines and bullets to help the reader skim your content. This allows them to quickly see what the article is about, before investing time reading something they don’t want to read, and it helps them realize that they SHOULD stay on your site and read the content you crafted for them.
- Include Calls to Action (CTAs) in your content. If you are talking about a service or product that you offer link to it or place a form on the page.
- Make it very simple for the reader to understand how to get the wonderful item you just convinced them they need.
4. Share Your Website, and Offsite Resources.
Don’t just share, share it professionally and effectively.
- Brand your social media profiles. Your Facebook page, Twitter profile, Pinterest profiles, etc. should all have your logo and brand image in place. (You can download my social media profile Photoshop templates to help)
- Share evergreen content—obviously, share your current content, but just because you wrote it last year, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share it now. Doing so will either 1) bring new viewers to your site or 2) retarget past viewers. And, it gives you something to share that’s your own, without having to invest in new content all of the time.
- Use images to show what you are talking about with a featured images for each post, and ideally 2-3 additional share-able images within the content. This allows the reader to choose images that are relevant to them when they share.
- Include social sharing icons on your site to make it easy for your readers to share the valuable information they received with their audience (and even email it to themselves for further reading).
- Be sure to share relevant content from other websites on your social profiles. It helps educate your audience, and helps them understand that you keep up to date too.
- Respond in a timely manner to all comments, likes, shares, etc. Each platform provides different interaction opportunities with your followers, and responding timely shows that you care, and have a sense for customer service (a strong benefit that small businesses often have over the big box competitors).
- Bonus Time Saver Tip: Use a social media tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to help you post to all of your networks, schedule posts, and track effectiveness of your posts.
5. Don’t Try to Out-think the Search Engines.
Being honest is a valuable business ethic, and Google understands it too.
- Stuffing keywords into content where they don’t fit will not make google like you better. But, it will deter your audience.
- You do not have to name your business with a keyword rich name or domain name.
Contrary to common rumor, Google will not rank your site higher just because of your name, if you don’t have topic relevant content on your site.
- Be sure search engines can index your site.
- If you remove a page from your site, create a redirect telling search engines where the content went to. Most site management tools have tools to help you with this.
- Include a relevant meta title and description on each page – these show up in search results and help users (and google) understand what your page is about prior to clicking on the link.
- Add title, alt, width, and height tags to your images. This helps search engines understand your images, allows users to know what the image is (if it didn’t load), and helps the browser render the image quicker. Most site management tools have tools to help you with this.
- Fast and reliable hosting will speed up your site, and a faster loading site will rank higher than a slower site.
- Bonus Tip: Hire a reputable SEO team to manage and monitor your site. They will be able to track any issues with your code, and point out any issues that the all mighty Google has with your site (and be able to help you fix them too!).
Build your site with clean code that Google can read, create relevant and continual content for your readers, good internal linking, and encourage people to share… then Google and all of the other search engines will share your site too.
If you are looking to revamp your site, build a new one, or for website optimization tips and help, be sure to select a web team that is qualified to help you build a site that works for your business goals, and one that google can (and will) index. Download the Business Owner’s Guide to Hiring a Web Designer.