This article is the eighth chapter in our Digital Marketing Blueprint. Our series includes Identifying Your Marketing Problem (Step #1), Understanding Why Digital Marketing Is the Solution (Step #2), Creating a Digital Marketing Budget for Your Business (Step #3), Getting to Know Your Audience (Step #4), Examining Your Key Messages (Step #5), Analyzing Your Existing Online Presence (Step #6), and Creating a Keyword Strategy (Step #7). Additionally, you can download the full guide here for free!
Step #8: Optimizing Your Website
You have keywords! Now, let’s get them where they belong: on your website.
First, remember that your website must be mobile-friendly (and ideally responsive). If not, a lot of your efforts to increase your website’s search rankings will be relatively pointless.
Once that’s taken care of, you can begin the optimization process—but what does that even mean?
Understanding On-Site Optimization
There could be an entire blueprint on this subject alone! For the sake of time, we’ll just hit the high points.
Google (and other search engines) takes a lot into consideration when ranking your site. Part of that information is what’s on your website. The other part involves what is taking place off your website.
In this section, we will primarily cover on-site optimization. Several of the off-site aspects will be covered in later sections.
On-site search engine optimization ultimately breaks down as follows:
2. Ease-of-use and navigation
3. Website loading time / site speed
4. Keyword usage on your website
5. Relevance of webpage content
6. High-quality, relevant content
7. Fresh content on your website
Let’s briefly cover each of these items.
The importance of a mobile-friendly (and ideally responsive) website was covered in an earlier section; therefore, we will not spend much time on it here. Just remember that having a mobile-friendly website is absolutely essential and should be your first step. All of your other efforts will be limited if this key area isn’t addressed.
Ease–of–Use and Navigation
Your website’s navigation must make sense to the user—and to search engines. Ideally, the main navigation should be located at the top of every page. The same is true for your responsive or mobile-friendly version. Ease-of-use dictates what kind of experience your users have, and therefore Google takes it seriously when grading your website.
Part of this step involves ensuring your address, phone number(s), and contact button are highly visible and easy to find.
Website Loading Time and Site Speed
Your website cannot be slow to load. In general, people give you about 3 seconds before they bail. And to take it one step further, if your site doesn’t load quickly, Google will dock points for user experience.
So what makes a website slow? Large images can easily be the culprit. Ensure that the images you upload are designed for digital use and not print. Full resolution images (300 dpi) are way too big to be placed on your website and will slow things down substantially.
In addition to using correctly sized images, every website is hosted on a server. That server speed will directly determine the loading time of your site. Make sure your website is being hosted on a solid hosting platform and not just the cheapest one you could find.
Keyword Usage on Your Website
Most people only think about using important keywords in the actual content on their website—you know, the words on the page that your website visitors read. However, that’s only one part of properly placing keywords throughout your site.
Every page of your website has a few elements:
Alt text (for all images on that page)
Anchor text (for any links, internal or external)
See the graphic below to get a basic idea of these aspects when looking at the front end of your website (the part that your visitors see).
Now, the “meta title” and “meta description” are controlled in the backend of the website—meaning they aren’t visible to your website visitors. Instead, they appear in search results. See the example below.
In the example above, “Digital Marketing Agency in Birmingham, Alabama” is the “meta title” and the text below the URL is the “meta description.” The keyword for this page (the homepage of our website) is “digital marketing agency in Birmingham.” Remember, every single page of your website needs to be optimized this way. Refer to the section on choosing the right keywords for additional information on the importance of keyword optimization and selecting the terms you can actually rank for in search results.
High-Quality, Relevant Content
Remember in school when you had to write research papers? Your teachers likely stressed the gravity of plagiarism then, and the same is true now when it comes to creating content for your website. You simply cannot copy and paste content from somewhere else—even another page on your own website. In fact, Google is so strict about this policy that it will penalize you in search results if you have two pages on your website with the same content.
Make sure every page has high-quality, unique, and relevant content. Then, make sure that content is optimized for search engines. Your website should be designed to educate your target audience and convert visitors into buyers.
Oh, and by the way—Google cares about correct grammar!
Side Note: HTTPS
It is highly recommended that your website utilizes HTTPS instead of HTTP. HTTPS is a more secure and encrypted way to send data from your website to the browser. In a nutshell, HTTPS websites are more secure and therefore Google prefers this version. Thus, websites with HTTPS encryption are more likely to show up higher in search results.
Fresh Content on Your Website
One of the ranking factors Google considers is how frequently you update your website with fresh content. Adding new content (we recommend doing so in the form of a blog) allows search engines to see that you are still an active business.
Imagine going to a restaurant and not knowing whether or not they’re open because the last 20 times you drove by, the exact same cars were in the parking lot. You’d likely be skeptical. The same is true when you leave your website unattended. The best way to add fresh content to your website frequently is through blogging (discussed in the next section). Plus, blogging gives you great information to share socially—driving your target audience back to your website!
Speaking the Right Language
Another essential aspect of optimizing your website is speaking the language of your target audience. Utilizing the buyer personas created earlier, your website content should closely resemble the interests and verbiage of your ideal customers.
For example, if you are targeting young professionals, your language should differ from that of stay-at-home moms. In short, speak your audience’s language!
Properly Utilizing Calls-to-Action
Regardless of your business and target audience, your website serves the purpose of converting visitors into buyers, whether that means buying your products online or contacting your business for a free quote. The best way to get the desired outcome is to simply ask.
The Bottom Line
Knowing the keywords you should be using is not enough – they have to be implemented correctly throughout your website in order to be effective.
This article is the eighth chapter in our Digital Marketing Blueprint. Download the full guide here for free!