website essentials

Every day, potential customers in your community are searching online for businesses like yours. Are they finding your website? These searchers are more likely to click on the first few businesses that appear on a search engine results page. So it makes sense that one of your search engine optimization (SEO) goals should be to show up in the top results when people search for information related to your business’s products or services. By implementing SEO best practices, your website can rank higher on those search results.

What your website needs to rank online

Here are 11 elements of your website to pay attention to. For a diagram of where to find them, refer to the infographic below.

1. Page title

The title of each page is the most important SEO element on your website. The title tells search engines what visitors will find on the page. It’s the blue clickable text found on the search engine results page. You can boost your chances of getting found by search engines by:

  • Including keywords as close to the beginning of the title as possible
  • Limiting the title to 50-60 characters

2. Page URL

Including keywords in the URL will help search engines better understand what the page is about. Be careful not to cram a bunch of words into your URL. Instead, try something like: Notice that it’s descriptive, but not overly so. Don’t use the URL “how-to-make-strawberry-frosting” if the page is actually about employees, the location of the bakery or another topic not related to strawberry frosting.

3. Meta-description

The meta-description does not show on your website, but appears as the text underneath the blue clickable text in a search result. Beyond being relevant to that page’s content, the meta-description should be engaging and make people want to click. Give searchers a tease of the information they can discover by visiting your site, but don’t be too vague: You still want potential customers to know what they’ll learn or how they’ll benefit from trusting you with their time.

4. Primary headline

The primary headline is the second most important SEO element, so it’s a great place to include keywords. Even better is an attention-grabbing headline with keywords. It’s got a big job to do: Explain the benefits of your product or service, and keep visitors on your website long enough to explore these benefits. To make a strong primary headline, make sure it follows these guidelines:

  • Be clear
  • Get to the point
  • Entice readers to engage
  • Stand out from the rest of the content on the page

5. Body content

Be sure that the words on your website provide the information your visitors are looking for in a scannable format. Make sure to include keywords where appropriate, and update it frequently to keep it fresh and relevant. Writing quality content with the right keywords is a powerful measure for search engines and will keep people engaged with your site.

When deciding what content to include, ask yourself:

  • Is it relevant?
  • Is it useful?
  • Does it sound like something a human would say?

6. Images

Images are eye-catching and, if done correctly, will catch the eye of search engines as well. They can help tell your story and communicate important things about your business. Important considerations to boost SEO include:

  • Image names: When placing important images on your webpages, include keywords in the file names as appropriate.
  • Image alt tags: Most website platforms allow you to append alternate (alt) text to images. This is the information that describes the image. Include keywords as appropriate, as these alt tags are picked up by search engines as well.

7. Navigation

Your potential customers don’t want to spend hours searching, and most won’t. That’s where having a navigation menu comes in: It’ll save your customers’ time and make them want to come back to you. A few ideas for navigation:

  • Hamburger menu: It’s known by many as the three lines stacked on top of each other that often appear on the top right of a webpage. By condensing your navigation into one easy-to-find spot, your site experience looks clean and simple. When a website seems clean and simple, people are likely to interact with it longer.
  • Home and breadcrumb links: People don’t want to be confused. Make sure they always know where they are on your site and can easily find other pages as well as navigate back to home.

When choosing colors and other design elements for your website, start with your logo. Your site is one important part of your business’s brand, and should feel cohesive with your logo. Besides that, a well-designed logo catches attention and will help users remember your site. If you don’t love your logo, consider refreshing it.

9. People

Behind every business is a team of people making it happen. Showcasing the incredible talent you have working for the company, and for your customers, is a great way to create a personal connection with your visitors. Consider adding these items to your website:

About us

  • Consumers want to understand the people behind the website. Include the story about how and why you started your business on an “About Us” page. Keep it short: You want to capture interest, not give every detail about your company over the past 10 years.
  • Establish a connection by including biographies of employees. Let the company and workers’ personalities show through.

Contact us

  • Make it easy for customers to reach out. Make the “Contact us” page visible by placing it in the main navigation.
  • Include your business name, address and phone number in the header and footer of your website.

10. Call to action

Though your site should be easy to use and sound like it has humans behind it, we get that you still need to meet business goals. Call to actions (CTAs) motivate visitors to go from “Just looking, thanks” to “This is helpful, I want to check it out.” CTAs normally come in the form of a button and should mention benefits or otherwise appeal to visitors. The focus is to lead them to action with compelling copy that hooks them, whether the action is booking an appointment, driving foot traffic or making a sale.

Internal and external linking will also boost your SEO.

  • Internal linking means linking to articles or other pages of your website. For instance, if you write a blog about how to bake a cake, you could link out from that post to cake recipes on your website. Not only is this convenient for users, it helps search engines crawl and find all of your pages. (Tip: Have each link open in a new window so readers aren’t pulled away from the article that has already captured their interest.)
  • External linking comes from other websites that link back to yours. If a bakery sees your blog on baking a cake and links to it, that builds credibility for the content you’ve created and therefore, credibility for your site.

Using too many links or linking to irrelevant pages will hurt your SEO efforts. Be sure you include links where they make sense naturally.

If you remember one thing about this website, let it be this: Design for your customers. By keeping them in mind, you’re ensuring your page will have the proper direction and focus it needs to rank online.

Check out the below infographic on the various parts of a webpage:

Get traffic moving your way
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