So you’re thinking about starting a new website for your business? Good choice! In today’s technology-driven era, one of the most important ways for a business to connect with current or prospective clients is through their online presence. Quite simply, if you are not actively increasing or maintaining these mediums, your competitors could quickly surpass you if they haven’t already. The functionality and need of a website will differ between businesses, but not having one at all might be a huge setback.
Whether it is educating the public on the functions of your organisation, providing them with a call to action (such as buying or booking), or merely letting them know you exist, a new website is a step in the right direction. However, due to the functionality of search engines driving the majority of web traffic, every website faces a challenge of being recognised as credible. Google has many algorithms that help rank a site in its results, but these are often changing. That’s why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is so important.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process undertaken to build and maintain a website to the point where search engines view it as useful and trustworthy. Effective SEO means good visibility on its results, which can only be a positive in increasing brand awareness. When developing a new website, there are a number of SEO practices to take into consideration.
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
One of the first aspects to look at before creating a new website is to understand what your competitors are doing effectively. Successful SEO will help you to level the playing field and, if it’s done well, you could gain a competitive edge. The main goal is to put you at the forefront of the consumer’s mind when they engage with your particular industry or brand category. But, if you are just starting out, chances are that someone else is already ahead of you. When looking at your competitors, a good place to start would be to evaluate:
- The relevancy, quality and quantity of content produced
- The diversity of keywords utilised in their headings
- How engaging the site is and its ease of navigation
- Its accessibility on different platforms (computer, tablet, mobile etc.)
- How long has it been active?
Assessing these factors will be a good starting point in determining what steps should be taken to catch up to the pack and eventually surpass them. When you understand what you are up against, you can begin to produce a website that works effectively from an SEO perspective.
Building a Quality Website
Now that you’re aware of what everyone else is up to, it’s time to produce a site that will perform well against your competition. Taking into consideration the following areas will hold you in good stead to get you on the map:
Content: This is at the crux of effective SEO. Not only should the content be relevant and engaging to keep the user on your page, but it should also be original.
Think about it from your customer’s perspective; their time on your page should be a helpful experience that encourages them to continue browsing or returning to your website. Not only will this increase the likelihood of them bookmarking or sharing your page, but it will also show Google that you are useful to consumers. Aim to have at least 500 words of original content on each page of your site.
Any pages linked to your website should also be trustworthy and relevant to what you are offering. If they aren’t, chances are Google won’t see you as useful and your rankings will suffer.
Keywords: A key driver of web traffic comes with people utilising keywords in their search. Understanding what your target market is searching for is a great way to establish how valuable it would be to utilise that keyword with your page. You should have a spread of useful keywords in your address, headings, content and image descriptions. Just don’t cram a bunch of them into your URL; short and sweet is likely to rank you higher.
Social: A great way to show Google that you are a legitimate business and useful to customers is to have links to external social media pages. Not only will this increase your credibility, but it can also drive traffic to external pages to increase further engagement.
What do sites like Google test for?
The algorithms used by search engines are complex and contain plenty of technical jargon in which most people are not interested. However, it does pay to have a general understanding of what Google is looking for in a quality site. Essentially, Google wants to know that your site is helpful.
They will test the bounce rate of people visiting, which is when people leave straight away. Reasons behind this could be because it is hard to navigate or not engaging enough—both of which are factors to consider in the design and publishing phases. You want people to not only come to your site but also stay and delve deeper.
Additionally, Google will take into consideration aspects such as site load speeds, broken links and its ability to ‘crawl’ effectively. If a user has trouble finding its way around, then Google will too. If Google can’t find your pages, then it won’t index them. If they’re not indexed, then guess what? They don’t show up in searches, your potential client engagement is lost, and your site’s credibility is damaged.
It Won’t Happen Over Night!
Perhaps the most crucial aspect to understand about SEO is that it is a gradual and progressive journey. It takes time to build authority in the world of search engines. In fact, in the first three months, it is not uncommon to rank poorly or not at all. At this stage, you have not built enough trust in the eyes of Google. However, as more people begin to visit your site, Google will take notice, and your site will build traction as it climbs the rankings ladder.
SEO can be daunting and seem like a full-time job, which is why you should consult an expert and discuss a strategy tailored to your business. Contact the team at SEO Marketer, they can conduct a free site audit and market research, including what your competitors are doing.