How to make your website visible to the masses
Recently, we warned that digital ads have the potential to go unseen. Your website can suffer the same fate.
If your website doesn’t feature prominently in Google’s organic search engine results pages, you are kissing a lot of traffic, and potential customers, goodbye.
Organic search traffic is important to marketers. According to a recent BrightEdge Research report, more than half of the traffic visiting most websites comes via search. That’s something people need to know and capitalize on.
BrightEdge published research in 2014 that showed 51 per cent of channel traffic came from organic search and that it was far and away the largest channel. “In the intervening years, there were significant search algorithm changes that dramatically altered the layout and ranking of the search engine results pages and saw an increase in the space taken by Local, ads, and Quick Answers,” the company stated.
In 2017, BrightEdge again analyzed a large set of domains and found that, despite all the changes in SERP (search engine results pages) layout and algorithms, 51 per cent of traffic, on average, still comes from organic search.
“What this means for marketers is that organic search is large, and its dominant position is durable over time, making it critical for SEOs and marketers to secure the resources needed to maintain, defend and expand SEO results.”
In Canada, more than 90 per cent of internet searches are conducted on Google. That’s where most of your time, energy and resources should be placed – please the Google robot and you reach the people searching the web.
Think of a website like a vehicle. The material you put into a car – gas and oil – determines how well it runs on the road. The same goes for a website. The material that goes into the website determines if it’s a clunker or something that gets a lot of traffic.
Dan Stephenson, new media production and design instructor at SAIT’s School of Information and Communications Technologies, teaches how to build websites from front end to back end, design and development, and most importantly, having a compelling interface.
He says Google looks at more than 200 factors in the algorithm when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). It’s that complicated.
A 2017 survey by research firm eMarketer found 63 per cent of people mentioned relevant content creation as the most effective SEO tactic for reaching their goals.
“You want to create great content. Users want great content. They want to know about your business. They want to know about your site. So, writing great content, creating articles and pages is useful,” says Stephenson.
Keep your content fresh, too, because in ranking websites, Google wants updates and changes and increases ranks based on this.
“That’s why a lot of sites like to have news sections or a blog. It gives them a chance to update their content regularly,” Stephenson says.
Because website development is not a priority for many businesses, sites become stale by not being updated. The result is they are no longer search-engine friendly and threaten to become invisible to the masses, says Stephenson.
At the outset, work with your website developer to choose a platform that allows you to easily maintain your content. If you have the right tools in place from the beginning, it’s simple to update a website quickly and inexpensively.
Other effective strategies identified by eMarketer were: keyword/phrase research, 53 per cent; social media integration, 42 per cent; external/internal linking, 38 per cent; mobile/responsive design, 31 per cent; meta-descriptions/tags, 24 per cent; and webpage loading speed, 19 per cent.
When incorporating keywords into your content, Stephenson recommends thinking about how your clients or potential clients would search for you.
“If you’re an automotive repair shop, are you using the word ‘automotive’ or ‘car’? What are the words they’re going to use to find you? Use those words within the content of your website. Because when Google goes to the site, it’s going to remember those words,” he says.
Stephenson says links are also important for making websites search-friendly. Google likes sites with incoming links (other websites linking to your site). So, people should try to get as many good links (i.e., relevant) as they can to their website. The more you can get people linked to you, the more Google is going to notice the site has some credibility because other people endorsed it.
Organizations who have websites should consider the following:
- You need to have the right traffic (people) visiting your site.
- If Google can’t properly see the website, it will relegate it to Page 2 or beyond in its searches.
- Search engine optimization isn’t a one and done activity; it should be an ongoing investment.
If Google doesn’t pay attention to your website, very few others will. And that would mean a lot of potential viewers are passing you by.