Search engine optimization for your business website isn’t hard to do, but it does take time and thoughtfulness. In fact, it’s the thinking part that should take the most time.
Without a clear understanding and statement of your website’s purpose, your optimization efforts will be less than, well, optimal.
Anytime you build, replace or update your website, the first step is to start with this basic question: what is the website’s purpose? If you’ve answered, “I just want to tell people about my business and that I’m here,” that’s the wrong answer. At least, it’s woefully incomplete. If you’re in business to make money, you should answer that question with some variation of “to generate sales.”
There are important corollary questions:
- What do I want people to do when they visit the site or page?
- What do I want people to learn when they visit the site or page?
With these questions, the potential answers are more diverse. You might want website visitors to call you, to purchase products, to fill out a form, to download some information, to subscribe to a newsletter, to sign up for a class or webinar, or to read a blog that teaches or entertains. However, you don’t need to guide site visitors to all of these actions from just one page.
Give Visitors a Reason to Act
The next step is to figure out how you’re going to entice visitors to do what you want them to do. For example, if you want folks to call you, you’ve got to prominently display a phone number, and you’ve got to lay out a reason to call. This is where content and search optimization enter the picture.
Search engine optimization — SEO as we marketers like to call it — is a series of steps to improve the chances that a search engine will show your web page when someone searches for information about your services or products. One of the steps is to write page content that has a clear intent and contains some keywords or keyword phrases that potential customers might use in a search on Google or Bing. For example, when someone searches for “local veterinarian who treats hamsters,” Google and Bing are more likely to show a web page that contains “veterinarian” and “hamsters” than just “veterinarian.”
What Does Poor SEO Look Like?
We’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of small-business websites that failed to give visitors a clear direction or a call to action. The result is lousy search optimization. Here’s an example from a real website (not a client). Here are the headings and sub-heads from a business website home page. After reading them, can you tell what service it offers?
- Putting our clients first
- Demanding excellence
- Being cool with each other
- The client’s best interest is our primary concern
- Because success is the only option
- Highly functioning teams yield the best results
Here are the first three paragraphs of text on the site’s homepage:
“Our clients are successful because they understand the importance of providing their customers with the best service they can possibly offer.
Smith & Jones (Name changed to protect the guilty) is no different.
We recognize that without successful clients our business will fail. Accordingly, we strive to learn the client’s goals and craft our solutions to achieve the client’s objectives. One of our highest priorities is to learn and understand our clients’ business and industry in order to provide more effective and efficient legal advice.”
Finally, a clue at the end of the fifth sentence. Google and Bing are smart, but how are they supposed to know what services this firm offers?
What Good SEO Looks Like
Contrast that with a law firm that appears as the top organic search result in the same city as the firm above. That firm has its phone number in bold text at the top of the homepage. A “free case-evaluation form” appears “above the fold” of the home page. The intent is clear — call us, or fill out this form and we’ll call you.
Here are the headings on the home page:
- (City name) personal injury lawyers
- Our results speak for themselves
- Practice areas
- Trusted personal injury lawyers
- No upfront fees for your personal injury lawsuit
- Our experienced legal team
- Experienced, dedicated lawyers with proven results
This firm, which obviously specializes in personal injury law, has intentionally thought about its website’s purpose and calls to action. As a result, there are clear signals about content for search engines as well as for the people who visit the website.
One SEO Step at a Time
You don’t have to wait for a website do-over to improve the SEO on your pages. It’s simple enough to do one page at a time as long as you know your goals. Figure out the purpose of each page, the appropriate call to action and the text that tells people why they should take that action.
Successful search engine optimization is intentional. It starts by taking the time to know your website’s purpose, what you want visitors to do once they arrive and what phrases people are likely to use when searching for your services or products. In the long run, improving your SEO will make your website a more productive marketing tool for your business.
To learn more about which SEO tactics your business should implement so more of your customers can find you online, watch our free webinar where Dream Local Digital Founder and Client Success Officer Shannon Kinney shares additional insights on why good SEO is critical for any business and how you can rank higher.