Your website is your digital storefront and, like any other store, requires diligent maintenance in order to appear welcoming and be appealing to your customers. The comparisons end there, however, because though basic store maintenance like stocking, inventory, and cleanup can be learned with a good week’s worth of training, basic website maintenance requires an extensive, complex digital process called search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process by which a website is strategically built to appeal to search engines and customers alike. When executed successfully, SEO makes your website turn up higher in relevant search results, thereby making it visible to as many potential customers as possible. SEO is a tricky process, requiring continuous monitoring and improvements in order to truly be effective. That said, there are 7 key “basic” optimizations that every website should have – and today, we’re telling you what those are. Let’s jump in.
1. Don’t Forget About Mobile
We’ll get right to it: the mobile version of your website is every bit as important (and some experts would even argue more important) than the desktop version. If your website looks beautiful on your laptop or desktop but is rife with formatting issues when viewed on a mobile device, its SEO will undoubtedly suffer. This is because search engines require websites to be intuitive, well-formatted, and useful across platforms. As of 2018, over 51% of all website traffic occurred on mobile devices; if your site isn’t user-friendly on mobile, then it’s just not user-friendly.
2. Make Your Site Work Quickly
This one goes right along with usability: search engines hate slow, clunky sites. Work with a trusted professional to do a thorough sweep of your site, especially if you have noticed or gotten complaints about its speed. Websites that take forever to fully load, experience lags or shutdowns, or otherwise interrupt the client experience tend to drive customers away. The less time a customer spends clicking through your site, the worse shape your SEO is in.
3. Have a Clear Topic for Each Page
You may have heard about the importance of keywords when it comes to SEO – and there’s no doubt as to why. Keywords were one of the pillars of search engine optimization for a long time. Websites that implemented one short, specific keyword on each page were considered to be in excellent shape with regard to SEO. However, as search engines and websites have become more sophisticated, this has changed – slightly. Nowadays, short keywords are not the end-all, be-all of SEO. Instead, topic clusters are dominating. A topic clusters is essentially when several content pieces (pillar pages, landing pages, blog posts, etc.) are grouped together by a common topic. This allows key concepts to be covered more extensively on your site than they would have been with short, one-off keywords. This, in turn, results in better user experience.
4. People First
Speaking of user experience: one of the most common pitfalls that businesses fall into when conducting SEO is prioritizing the search engine over the customer. Don’t get us wrong: successful SEO hinges on understanding how search engines work and designing your website accordingly. However, your website should be created first and foremost with your customers in mind. No matter how technically perfect your website is on the backend, that means pretty much nothing if it isn’t appealing to customers. Focus on concise, informative copy; beautiful images and video; and valuable information that customers want to see.
5. Location, Location, Location
Search engines can only effectively recommend you to prospective customers in your area if they know where you are in the first place. Your website should make specific references to the specific locations where your services are offered. For example: if your headquarters are located in Town A but you’d like to reach customers in Towns A through E, the best practice for SEO is creating one location page for Town A, one for Town B, one for Town C, and so on. When potential customers search for relevant services in any one of those towns, your website will be far more likely to show up on search engines.
6. Have a Robust Blog
Do not underestimate the power of a good blog. A strong, strategically planned blog strategy can build your thought leadership, boost the reputation of your company, and provide very useful information to potential customers while doing wonders for your SEO. Blog posts allow you to expand on your topic clusters, strengthen your website’s backlinks (more on that in a second), and keep customers on your site for longer. These are all hallmarks of good SEO.
7. Direct Your Visitors
Ultimately, a good website is one that makes it easy for customers to go from page to page, sending them down a funnel in a way that feels totally organic and incentivizing them to contact your business. For SEO purposes, this means that you’ll have to do a few things: the most important is making sure that every single page includes a Call to Action (CTA). Whether it’s a “Contact Us” button or a link to another page, lead your customers through your website in a logical, organic way. Your blog posts should link back to other relevant pages of your website, which should in turn incentivize customers to keep navigating or to contact you. A webpage can be beautifully written and masterfully designed, but it if doesn’t drive your site visitors to action, it’s not doing its job.
8. Never Stop Optimizing
There’s no finish line to SEO; once you’ve accomplished everything on your to-do list, it’s just a sign that it’s time to make another list. This is why we highly recommend entrusting your SEO to a professional you can trust to do the absolute best job with it. The beauty (and ultimate challenge) of SEO is that it’s always evolving alongside the numerous trends and behaviors of the digital world – and it’s your site’s job to keep up.
We hope that this list of must-have search engine optimizations for your website has been helpful in getting you set up for a successful digital presence. SEO isn’t easy, but it’s tremendously fulfilling and has the potential to drive thousands of customers to your website.