According to Netcraft, there are more than 975 million websites in the world. How many of those sites are business related is unclear, but it’s fair to say that, as competition goes, it’s pretty fierce out there. Optimizing your business website is imperative, but pleasing both the search engines and your visitors is something of a balancing act. Here are six ways in which you can go about catering for them both.
Choose Your Keywords Wisely
Keywords can make or break a site. What can often be an overwhelming task is that much simpler when you choose the right keywords and optimize them effectively. Choose the wrong ones and the opposite is true. It helps to think of keywords as the forerunner of everything that comes next, since they affect many aspects of website optimization like your choice of domain, meta descriptions, content, and more. Moz (formerly SEOmoz) offers an excellent chapter on keyword research in their Beginners Guide to SEO.
Pick the Perfect Domain Name
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Your chosen domain name impacts how site visitors and search engines perceive your website. Choosing the right TLD (Top Level Domain), using your domain as a branding tool, and checking availability of the same name on social media channels are just three of the nine essential elements of choosing a domain name described by Entrepreneur. If you find that the domain name you want is unavailable, it’s worth checking expired domains to see if the name you want is for sale.
Optimize Site Speed
There’s a common belief that a visitor will wait around two seconds for a site to load. Harry Schum, a speed specialist at Microsoft, believes that figure is more like 250 milleseconds — it really is a case of blink and you’ll miss it. The speed at which your site loads will of course depend on the user’s technology and connection speed, but there are several steps that you can take to make sure that everything is shipshape at your end. The Yahoo Developer Network provides a comprehensive list of 35 best practices for speeding up your website.
“Content is king” is perhaps one of the most overused terms in online marketing. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It goes far beyond the commitment to keep up a regular posting schedule on your business blog though. The wealth of content-related advice available is considerable, but you can essentially strip it back to just two main elements: using the right keywords in the right place and taking advantage of the search engines’ seemingly incessant wish for hyper-fresh content. A website that takes these, and other factors into account, will invariably be a well optimized website.
Mobile Equals Local
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The mobile era has long since been upon us. This shift, combined with the increased use of smartphones, means that the path to purchase has changed, and to take advantage, you should optimize your website for local search. Building a dedicated mobile site is often expensive and time-consuming, but a high ROI if approached correctly. An alternative approach, if your site runs on WordPress, is to simply choose a responsive theme. VerticalResponse offers a useful guide on how to optimize your business website for the mobile era.
Not all optimization techniques center around on-site elements. In reality, a significant proportion of website optimization falls into the off-site category. Keywords continue to play their part, but of all the factors that you should consider in the off-site arena, link building (and everything that falls under that umbrella such as blogger outreach and guest posting) and rankings based on social signals are probably the two most important considerations, and definitely the most sensible places to start.
Addressing these issues will certainly improve your website optimization, but it is important to stay consistent, to continually monitor the results of your optimization efforts, and to react to those results accordingly.