Is your website helping you capture new business?

Within one second of landing on your website first impressions are made. You have the next 3-5 seconds to capture the interest of visitors to convince them to stay long enough to determine if you might be the firm that can help solve their problem and/or improve their life.

When was the last time your website had a check up?

Website-CheckupBe sure your homepage communicates who you are, what you do and whom you serve. Your headlines, your tagline, the text and keywords you use should combine visually with the photos and videos to convey this message. Critical information needs to be “above the fold,” meaning a visitor does not have to scroll to see it. Graphics and contact form that start above the fold does encourage people to scroll to see the rest.

The top right corner is a top-viewed location of a homepage that can be used to attract eyeballs and prompt action. Do you want people to call you? If so, this is the ideal place for your phone number.

Does your website help build trust?

People want to do business with people they trust. Stanford conducted the Web Credibility Guidelines study to see what generates trust online. They found that seeing real people behind the organization and highlighting their expertise and credentials are big factors. Visitors will contact you when they know, like, and trust you. Help connect with website visitors know and trust you by taking extra care with the “about us” page and the hotel or business profiles. Provide more than just your experience and years in business. This is your opportunity to tell people what you want them to know about your business be it a hotel or travel services. Sharing the company’s history and showing that there are great people on your team takes some of the mystery out of booking a hotel room or submitting an inquiry.

Is it easy to find information on your website?

You want to make it easy for visitors that come to your site to find the information they want and to view pages you want them to see. Is the navigation on your site clear? Is it easy for people to find the pages that help them understand the significance of what you do? Tabs should use terms the general public use and understand not legal terms.

Long paragraphs are not user friendly. Use bullets that link to a page or section that discusses that term or area of practice. Bold, highlighted and underline text helps the visitors and the search engines determine what is most important on the page.
Make it easy for people to land on the page of interest and make sure people see the information you want them to see.

Implement steps today to improve your website with SEO. Regardless of your efforts to optimize your site and make sure it is seen, if people don’t like your website they will not contact you.

Mobile friendly Google Algorithm update

As most you may know by now and expect the next major Algorithm update to roll out by Google by around the 21st April week.

mobile friendly google test

Let’s take a closer look at what Google’s trying to accomplish by rolling out this update.

This is Google’s much awaited step towards providing primarily mobile friendly sites in mobile search.

The update will impact mobile search results globally in all languages, and Google says it will have a “significant” impact.

To make sure your site is mobile friendly or not on Google’s mobile search results, run your site through the mobile-friendly testing tool. If you get through, you have nothing to worry about.

There are many websites in Sri Lanka that are not Mobile friendly and needs immediate action in order to keep up to speed with Google.

Old School SEO

So, last week I was approached by a prospect (now new client) that had been working with another SEO company to improve their website’s rankings. The strategy they were employing was to purchase multiple keyword loaded domain names and deploy them as landing pages in the hopes of attracting traffic to those pages based on the keywords contained in the URLs. Thus far, the client has never seen any benefit from this whatsoever.

Old School SEO

Now… this was a strategy employed some years ago with fairly high success (at least in terms of attracting eyeballs). However, as I explained to my new client, this strategy is very, very old school. Here’s why…

Begin first of all by thinking about what Google is trying to accomplish through its search rankings. The answer is simple: it wants to provide the best, most satisfying results to the searcher so that the searcher will continue to use Google as their search engine of choice, thereby ensuring its continued dominance of the Internet. Obvious…

Now, ask yourself how Google makes the determination of what searchers are going to like in terms of search results. The answer to this should also be somewhat obvious: really good websites! So, when Google is looking at and figuring out where to rank websites it is essentially analyzing them on the basis of usefulness to the searcher based on the keyword(s) they just searched for.

So, what do you think makes a website valuable to you? Well, obviously a site that reflects the keywords you just searched for in terms of the words on the page, the topic the content is about. But, beyond that, what else? How about videos also tagged with those keywords. Or a blog also full of that sort of content. What about podcasts? Or if it’s a retail site, a well designed and secure shopping cart system, with a secure payment system. What about good, simple navigation? And fast loading pages.

Getting the idea? Right. Google is becoming very sophisticated in its ability to analyze websites. And it is using these sophisticated algorithms to not just look at the text on a page, but also how valuable the site is to a user based on a wide variety of criteria. So, with this in mind, why does anyone think that Google would place high value on a single landing page that’s keyword loaded simply to try to attract search engines? Is there any value there? I think we all know the answer to that.

So… want to be in Google’s good books? Think like Google and start making great websites that people will love.

Top 5 SEO Mistakes

If effective SEO is a concern of yours (and it should be!) there are many things to avoid when building a website, many of which will have a very serious impact on whether someone can ever find your site using a search engine. Some of these are simple fixes, and some not so simple.

Boy… where do I start! There are so many… hmmmm… Here goes, and be advised that these are not in definitive order.

SEO Mistakes

1. Not having sufficient on page content. This is amazingly common. The causes could be a variety of things. Pages built in Flash, text buried in graphics or design that doesn’t allow for the use of many words. But, the effect is the same. Google needs to find the words on the page in order to assign relevance to your website when compiling the search results. While lack of content can potentially be offset through other means, for the most part, you have to show Google and your customers what you are all about. And that means words.

2. Not developing a website with SEO in mind. Jeez, I wish I had a buck for every website owner that came to me for SEO services for their brand new, swanky website after it had already been built with a host of problems. Potential problems are many and varied, from having insufficient text (as in the above), excessive and clunky coding which hampers indexing, excessive java script, or poorly designed pages with high bounce rates, etc. I even saw a site once that was built in such a way that you couldn’t implement H Tags! The truth is, many programmers/developers just don’t know the requirements of the search engines.

3. Inappropriate use of keywords. Keyword selection is really where you separate the wheat from the chaff. It is crucial more now than ever before that you select the keywords that accurately describe you and have the potential to lead to a high conversion rate.

Essentially this is because of two overall factors:

I. the SEO landscape is starting to get pretty crowded out there. Unless you have a super powerful website, it is very difficult to compete for a wide range of keywords. You are better off focusing your energy on those that will give you the best shot at highly targeted traffic.

II. Google is now looking at how effective your site is at retaining search traffic. If you start attracting unfocused visitors who immediately bounce away, Google will start to drop you down the SERPs. Google likes happy searchers… 😉

4. Not devoting enough (or any) attention to linking. As has been the case for a long time now, Google looks at how interconnected you are with a community of similar websites. It uses this to guage how “legitimate” and valuable your site is… figuring that if many similar websites are linking with you, you must be good. Though this has been the case for a long time, it is shocking how many websites devote little attention to this. And, given Google’s recent changes, this is even more important than ever.

5. Lastly, only doing part of the job. Google looks at a huge array of factors when positioning a website in its SERPs. optimisation means looking at as many of these factors as possible, and making the changes required. I’ve seen countless “SEOed” sites that only went part of the way. Good content, but no links… good Page Titles, but no supporting content… matching Titles and content, but crappy keyword selection… and the list goes on. These days, if you only do half a job you may as well kiss your investment goodbye.

So… like I said, these SEO mistakes aren’t in any particular order, but addressing them is crucial to success. Oh yeah… and one more thing: do yourself a favour and consult an expert 😉

Get on board

One of the problems with SEO is that few people really understand it, and some may even not appreciate its value. When dealing with complicated projects with sensitive budgets and many hands in the pie, getting everyone on board with the project may be… uh… “challenging”.

Get Onboard SEO

Photo Courtesy of benefitspro.com

The problem with convincing clients and management to use SEO is twofold. First of all you have to convince them that SEO actually works. They have the right to be skeptical when so many people have used complicated SEO jargon to sell their services without providing the results clients expect. Once you convince them that SEO can work, you have to convince them that you are the person who can make it work for them.

How do you do it?

To put it simply do the opposite of the jargon talkers who have burned your clients in the past. Avoid the clever buzzwords and explain briefly why your process works and then show that it works. Instead of talking the talk, make your numbers speak for themselves.

To do this you have to be clear:

Explain what SEO is, because a surprising number of people are unaware

Explain what specific services you can offer

Show them the increase in website traffic and conversions and Google ranking to show how your work has benefited others and then be specific about how it can be benefit them. Once they see how their crawlability can go up with specialized links, controlled relevant content, they will see how SEO can serve as the foundation of their successful online business.

The first part is easy. Everyone uses search engines to surf the net. If you can’t find a website when you search on Google, there isn’t much point to having the website at all. By explaining how SEO increases your search engine ranking, you can easily explain how that can change the utility of a website.

Marketing changes depend on the medium you use. After all you wouldn’t put a colorful illustration in a book for the blind. In the same sense a gigantic billboard would be useless if it was placed in a location where it was obscured by high rise buildings and impossible to see. SEO is like that, only instead of being obscured by features of the landscape, your client’s website can be hidden by ignorance of how the online landscape works. There is a great pile of information on search engines. The question is how can you make your website stick out of the pile? The most important part of any message is that people read it and SEO is the process of securing the proper location for your customers to see your products.

Now explain what makes your company different. Don’t give away your secrets, but let your clients know what you can do for them, and be specific. This same principle applies to dealing with management and the members of your team. Show Google analytics of websites you have worked with, tracking their site views and online sales. Once your team realizes how valuable SEO can be, they can make it an intrinsic part of their own process.

Because in this day and age, SEO shouldn’t be something you add on, it’s a requirement. Buzzwords are the stock and trade of charlatans, a successful SEO business offers results, not catchphrases.