The following factors influence both your search engine optimization, website traffic, and visitor behavior. If you don’t have enough of a budget to give each of these attention right now, we’ve laid them out by order of priority here. If needed, take them one at a time and watch your analytics to see the amazing impact each has on how your target demographic finds you and what they do once they arrive on your site.
1. Domain Name
Although just a year ago Google penalized exact match and some partial match domains, they seem to be a bit more surgical about those penalties now. This means having a primary keyword phrase as your domain name is good for search rankings as long as it really is relevant to your site. A brief yet specific domain name that makes it obvious what you offer is important not only for customer psychology, but also for that all-important keyword optimization. Some businesses start out on free platform like Google Sites or drag-n-drop shops like Shopify, but this sacrifices domain name clarity and efficiency.
Think about it, which URL below looks more professional and less likely to give your website a virus?
2. Webpage Load Time
Once people trust your domain name, it’s important to capture them on your landing pages. If certain pages take forever to load though, you’ll notice that no matter how much traffic you get, nobody is converting. That means they are turning away, because they are too impatient to wait for your site. This makes for a high bounce rate, which is another factor search engines consider in your rankings. They want to see a low bounce rate.
If you have a lot of high resolution images on your site or big video files, you may want to ask your developer to compress them or to run them through a program that will help them load faster. You want your website to load within a second, no matter what device people are viewing it on.
3. Site Design
Speaking of devices, mobile traffic now makes up a good 30% of web traffic (of course that varies by category). If your site isn’t catering to them, you’re losing out on a lot of business. You want a responsive website design that is:
- touchscreen friendly,
- easy to navigate,
- and gets them to your conversion point efficiently.
Having an attractive design is also important, so don’t clutter it with ads, neon links, and graphics that look like spam. Keep it simple, elegant, and to the point, and your traffic will flourish. This is where it’s extremely important to have your web developer, graphic designer, and marketer working together to make sure the ideal form and function are achieved.
4. Textual Content
When we say keep your site simple, we don’t mean leave out the text. While it’s true you don’t want to take forever to get to your point or go off on any tangents, it’s also true that text content is the easiest for search engines to read and understand, and therefore the easiest for you to optimize. Ideally, you want at least 400 words of content on all of your important static pages. That content:
- needs to be relevant to the title of the page,
- should be original and informative,
- and should naturally include a few relevant keywords.
When using site creator platforms, it’s important to make sure your titles and subtitles are coded with H1 and H2 tags and that your pages have META titles, descriptions, and keywords. If you’re not sure what these terms are or where to check for them, ask a web developer to add them for you.
Having static text content is great for the framework of your site, but it’s important to add depth to it with regularly updated content. Most sites do this in the way of blogs. With every blog, you have an opportunity to:
- show off your expertise,
- add layers of information to your site,
- and increase your site’s relevance for a particular keyword phrase.
Like your static webpages, your blogs should be properly optimized to make an impact. You can also post news articles, press releases, white papers, courses, and other resources to make your site a thorough source for your industry.
Every year, multimedia becomes more and more important on the web. Many mobile device users prefer videos or interaction of some kind, and search engines are really catering to sites that offer information with mixed media. There should be some form of media on every page of your site. Videos tend to make the biggest impact on traffic, but keep them to about 30-90 seconds (unless you’re posting in-depth webinars/courses). Infographics are also great traffic boosters. In fact, they are confirmed to increase conversions when used on landing pages.
Professional looking videos and infographics are valuable investments, and you can always add them gradually over time. In fact, we encourage this. In the meantime, make sure each page has at least one optimized photo. Optimized means getting a keyword into the alt description and/or file name.
7. Site Map
This one was difficult to prioritize, because ideally, you want your site map up and indexed as soon as possible so the search engines know you’re there and start ranking you. However, you don’t want to post your site map while you’re still making big changes, so it should definitely come after the site design and webpage content. Then again, you will be, and should be, constantly adding to your webpage content, which means, you’ll want to submit your site map regularly to show audiences all the new products/services/information for which your site is now relevant.
Caution: Your web developer will not automatically do this for you. Many times, they will settle for the site map your SEO plugin creates. While this is ok if you have lots of time to wait for traffic, we recommend hooking up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Ask your developer to submit your site map in Webmaster Tools. This will get you indexed by Google a lot faster. You should also opt for a dedicated site map plugin that sends updated site maps to Google, Yahoo, and Bing whenever you publish new content.
8. Internal Linking
Search engines want to make sure that when people get to your site, it’s easy for them to find the information they want. This means having links in all the right places. Obviously, your menu will have your most important links, but you also want to add anchor text links to your textual content. This involves linking a keyword phrase to another relevant and perhaps more specific page on your site. In other words, they can click it to get more info on that topic. This is especially useful in blogs where you can link keywords back to your main product and service pages to create a conversion funnel. Keep your links:
- and practical,
and they will improve your search engine rankings and conversion rates.
9. External Linking
At the top of your conversion funnel should be external links, also known as backlinks. Right now, search engines are giving preference to links from social media platforms, review sites, and reference outlets (popular news sites, online encyclopedias, etc.). More specifically, Google favors links from YouTube and Google Plus for obvious reasons.
Again though, it’s important that no matter where your link ends up, it is relevant, optimized, and helpful. Don’t go adding your link to every site that will take it, because who you know is important on the Internet. Also be sure to create a diverse list of backlinks, coming from a variety of high profile sites, using a wide range of keywords, and linking to a variety of pages on your site.
10. Industry Credibility
Once all of this is put together, it needs to show that you’re the real deal. Wherever you are referenced, whether on your website or another, you want to make sure you maintain a good reputation. Audiences, and therefore search engines, will want to see content that is engaging, informative, and helpful. When you can communicate your expertise, this lets people and search engines know you are a credible source for that type of information. That’s why you want to get your business name, expert name, and website link out on industry relevant sites where you are a valuable contributor.
You want to be recommended, reviewed, rated, referenced, and praised by your clients, peers, and official industry boards/award programs/etc. This lets everyone know you are a reliable source when it comes to a particular area and pushes traffic towards your site.
Each of the steps in the list requires a different knowledge base and skillset, so most business owners invest in outside services to realize their web traffic goals. At Jurevicious Studios, we’ve created a team who can take care of all of this in one place on whatever schedule your time and budget will allow. Let us know which steps your business is ready to take, and one of our professional writers, graphic designers, web developers, SEO experts, and/or marketers will make it happen.