So you’ve just launched your brand new website; a huge congratulations.
You’re probably sitting at your desk just waiting for all those website visits to roll in.
However a week goes by and there’s very little. Now a month, now three, and you’re wondering what’s up…
While there are a number of factors that contribute to visitors finding your website, if it isn’t optimised for search engines - you’re already behind the 8-ball.
This guide and checklist is for small business owners who may have created (and manage) their own website, and want to ensure that their best foot is forward when it comes to getting found online.
It’s also a handy resource for website designers and developers (who may also use Webflow) as a workflow before launching a website.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a combination of strategies you can perform on your website that aim to improve the experience for both visitors and search engines.
SEO is a really effective tool that small businesses and not for profit organisations can tap into. Some of the benefits of SEO include:
This guide runs through 8 ways that you can optimise both your website, and its content, to improve your search engine rankings:
Let’s dive straight in…
Many people jump straight into designing a website and creating the content without considering the aim of their primary user.
Creating a profile of your ideal customer or visitor can help identify what they might be looking for on your website; and importantly — the ways you can improve your content to meet these goals.
Action: Grab a pen and paper, or open a Word document, and brainstorm who a list of all the people that you think may visit your website. From this list, identify 2 to 3 key users. Develop a profile, or a persona, for each of these users.
A profile may include:
This understanding helps create content and design a website with intent, rather than guessing, and gives you a better platform to begin search engine optimisation for your website.
Searching a term like “SEO” and “Keywords” will return millions of results.
Simply put, keyword research is identifying words or phrases that people are most likely to search for that are relevant to your content. It’s discovering and implementing relevant words or phrases throughout your content to make it more relevant and useful for your customer or visitor.
An example of this is ‘small business website design Hobart’ for Domin8 Designs.
Broadly, there are two types of keywords: short tail and long tail.
Short tail are short, sharp words or phrases that consist of around three words or less. An example of a short tail keyword is “web design”. Because of the direct nature of short tail keywords, they often have a wide search intent and are very competitive (i.e. hard to rank in search engines).
Long tail keywords have more than three words, and are usually much more specific (i.e. ‘best web designer in Hobart’). These keywords are often less competitive and are targeting a specific intent from the searcher.
Where to start keyword research? Check out Neil Patel’s “Uber Suggest) — https://app.neilpatel.com/
Action: Brainstorm a list of 10+ keywords that you want people to find your website for, or, that you think are relevant for your business/organisation. Incorporate both short and long tail keywords.
You may also need to repeat this process for different pages of your website, such as individual service pages or blog posts.
Once you’ve developed a handful of profiles and researched keywords, it’s time to create the text content for your website.
Action: To begin, identify 2 to 3 primary keywords that you think are most relevant to the content you’re about to work on.
These become your ‘primary keywords’.
There’s two steps to creating the main content for your website: the meta information and then the body of text itself.
In a loose hierarchy, the meta information includes:
Action: Considering your primary keywords, develop the meta information for your website.
Here’s an example:
Your primary keywords should appear in the title of the page, as well as the meta-description (if you have access to this from your website editor), site URL and Heading 1.
Following this, you can use the questions from your ‘visitor persona’ to structure some sub-headings for your text content.
Action: Review your keywords list and identify another 4 to 7 keywords as your ’secondary list’. Use these keywords, along with your primary ones, to develop the rest of the content.
Dom’s tip: be mindful of ‘keyword stuffing’ — trying to cram as many keywords into your content as you can. Search engines like Google are incredibly smart these days and will penalise you for tricks like this. Ensure that keywords occur naturally through out the content.
Stay tuned: We’ll be developing a content-writing specific post soon.
Internal (links to other pages on your website) and external (links to other websites) are also important for SEO.
In particular for newer or smaller websites, external links to reputable, bigger websites can really boost your search presence; while internal links help keep website visitors engaged in your content and on your website.
Action: When creating content, aim for three to six links, dependent on the length and intent of your content.
Dom’s tip: If you mention or refer to another article or blog post, either on your own website or another, this is a great way to incorporate links into your content.
A sitemap (or structured list of pages and URL’s of your website) helps Google and other search engines understand and crawl your website, including information like when a page was last updated, the importance of a page etc.
One of the great things about Webflow is that it automatically creates an XML sitemap for your website.
Most website editors should generate a sitemap for you, or you can create one yourself — and once complete, you can submit this sitemap to Google’s Search Console.
Action: Find out if your website platform automatically generates an XML sitemap. Submit this sitemap to Google Search Console or other search engines.
The speed of your website can make or break a visitor's experience and in turn effect your search engine rankings.
How do I test page speed?
You can type your website URL into Google PageSpeed Insights to test your website.
Action: While there are a range of ways to improve the load time and page speed, the main actions you can take include:
Dom’s tip: Be mindful that PageSpeed Insights are an indication only. Sometimes you can run the same website twice and get vastly different results.
This section can use a whole other article, however we’re considering the accessibility of your website from both a general use perspective, but also for those with physical, visual or intellectual impairments.
Considering accessibility can mean aspects such as:
A responsive website is one that is legible on desktop, mobile and tablet devices (and now even big screens). Google specifically penalises websites that aren’t mobile friendly, so this should be a starting point.
Creating a responsive site is an easy one, particularly in Webflow — and is a well known standard and expectation of websites today.
Action: You can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to see if your website passes.
A 404 page is where visitors may end up if they visit a nonexistent or moved page of your website; which can happen from time to time.
Instead of being a dead end, a 404 error page can be useful in letting visitors know where they may have gone wrong — but also importantly how they can get out; such as through a link back to the homepage or a search box.
Finally, although incredibly important, are HTML ‘Alt Tags.’
An Alt tag is assigning a text description to an image, something that people with vision impairments may not be able to make sense of, to make it more accessible.
This lets people with poor or no vision understand the purpose of the image in the context of the page and naturally flow through the content.
Action: Add Alt tags to all images on your website. If you’re not sure how to do this, do a quick Google search on adding Alt tags to your website platform.
What good is it making all these changes if you can’t see the progress you’re making?
There are a range of tools that can help track your improvements, whether it’s the number of visitors viewing your website or the overall position of specific keywords.
Our favourites include:
Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind that nothing with search engine optimisation is a definite — however performing any of the above can be the first step in gaining even a one-percent improvement for your website; and in turn more customers or awareness of your business or brand.
At Domin8 Designs, we use Webflow to develop our websites which make a lot, if not all, of the above tasks incredibly easy; and we’ve achieved a heap of page-one results thanks to these simple strategies.
If you’ve found any of the points above useful, be sure to let us know via the comments or through our social media. If you get stuck or would like more information on any aspect, you’re always welcome to get in touch.
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