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What's Included in a Perfectly Optimized Homepage?

What’s Included in a Perfectly Optimized Homepage?

When you’re trying to get your business noticed online, you need to create a website that stands out. While your site must have a great user experience and make it clear to visitors what your business does, you must also be sure it’s optimized to keep search engines happy.

Building a site with the following attributes will not only make it easy for visitors to understand who you are and to navigate through the rest of your website, it will also make for a strong approach to SEO.

An HTTPS Certified Site

First thing’s first: Both visitors and search engines want to know you site is secure. Google’s Chrome browser has started warning visitors that a site is not secure if it does not have its HTTPS certificate, and they’ve also made it a ranking factor.

Switching to HTTPS is simple, and most web hosting platforms will do it at little or no cost for existing customers. If you don’t switch, you risk falling behind your competition who have made the switch.

Fast Load Time

Another ranking factor is how quickly your site loads. Load time can vary from desktop to mobile devices, and you want your site to be quick on both. If you’re not sure where you stand, check out the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google. The tool gives you a rating—green, yellow, or orange—for your site.

If your site isn’t loading as quickly as you’d hoped, talk to your web developer about strategies to increase the speed. Sometimes it’s as simple as eliminating some of the bigger items and sticking to just simple text and images on your homepage.

Crawlable Content

Search engines like Google go out into the world and crawl websites, looking for information on sites that tell them what the website is about. This is how a search engine determines which queries you should be ranking for.

Let’s say you own a home painting business in the Atlanta area. They’ll likely see terms on your site like “home painting,” “exterior painting,” “contractor,” or “home repair.” They’ll also see your location and contact information. Google then determines, based on what they find, where you should be ranking in a given query. That’s why you’ll turn up in a search for “home painters near Atlanta,” but not “party planner in Seattle.”

Only some website content is easily crawlable, though. Using HTML and simple text on your homepage gives you the greatest shot at getting properly indexed, so that you show up in search results for the most relevant queries.

Include Your Value Proposition

Your value proposition must be clearly highlighted on your homepage. Again, when search engines crawl your website, they’re looking for relevant information about what your business does. Your value proposition not only makes that clear for search engines, it also makes it easy for human visitors to immediately know and understand what your business does.

Featuring your value proposition above the fold, front and center, and in a simple text format, keeps all visitors happy and well-informed.

An H1 Tag and Alt Text for Images and Logos

Another way to get more relevant keywords onto your homepage is to include them in your H1 tag and Alt text on images.

An H1 tag is basically the heading at the top of the page. It’s something that search engines will look to for information on what the website is all about. It will also let visitors know what they can expect to find on the rest of your site. So it’s important that the H1 tag accurately portrays what your business does, and includes keywords in a way that doesn’t make the language seem unnatural.

Alt text can be used to let search engines know about the content of a certain image. They are another way to include additional keywords on your homepage. The Alt text description should really describe what the image is, but you can also use keywords that you’re hoping to rank for.

Let’s say you’re the owner of a local art school in Dallas. There is an image on your homepage of students at pottery wheels, making bowls. The Alt text description could read “pottery students at XYZ Art School Dallas, Texas.” That not only accurately describes the photo, but also includes your business’s name and location.

The Right Metadata

Metadata is the information about your business that is displayed on SERPs. The title is the blue link that you’ll see on Google, and the meta description is the grey type underneath, which gives people a little more context about what they can expect to find if they click on the link.

Make sure that the title and meta description for your homepage are more than just your business’s name. Including something more specific about the products or services you offer, or your location (if relevant). This will help you appear in appropriate searches and also give people a greater sense of what you do.

For example, Duct Tape Marketing’s title is, “Duct Tape Marketing: Small Business Marketing Consulting” and our meta description is, “Simple, effective, and affordable small business marketing system and home of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.”

Your Contact Information

This may seem obvious, but you’d be shocked by the number of businesses who neglect to include their contact information on their homepage.

Not only is this wildly helpful to visitors who might want to reach out to you with further questions or to make a purchase, it’s also a ranking factor for search engines.

Your contact information should be correct, and should sync up with what search engines will find on your Google My Business profile and other online directories. If there are inconsistencies on your business’s name, location, or contact information, that can hurt how you rank in SERPs (and it can certainly confuse your customers).

You want your homepage to get noticed by customers and prospects who need the solutions your business offers. The best way to do that is to create a homepage that ranks well with search engines and is user-friendly for human visitors. When you optimize your page for both man and machine, you create an effective online base for your business.

If you want to talk more about how to optimize your business’s homepage and website, schedule a consultation with our team.

why websites fail

Why the Majority of Websites Fail

Gone are the days when businesses can rely solely on “pretty” websites. In today’s digital marketing landscape, a website must be an optimized, revenue-generating platform.

I’ll just get right to it: The reason so many websites fail is because businesses take a design-driven approach from the beginning as opposed to developing a website from the ground up with SEO in mind. Without SEO your coding and design efforts will all be for nothing.

A brief look at the web design industry

I hear the same complaint from entrepreneurs time and time again: They’ll get a referral, hire a friend, or search online to find a web designer based on style and price. Sound familiar?

When this happens, more often than not, businesses realize upon site completion that their brand new fancy website isn’t optimized for search. The new site launches and search rankings don’t change at all (some even plummet). But hey, at least the website looks good.

It’s never a fun day when you have to tell an entrepreneur that they likely need a complete site redesign in order to achieve their SEO and business goals.

Because I’ve heard this story so many times, it is now my mission to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-web designer, and I do think first impressions and a good-looking site are important, I just want the web design industry to embrace SEO as well and make it a natural part of the web development process. It’s a win-win for everybody!

Why web design is like building a house

A web designer or design agency are often chosen because of the look of their portfolio. It can be easy to judge a book by its cover when it comes to hiring a designer, as they are digital artists with distinct tastes that either don’t match or do match the direction you’d like to take your brand aesthetically. While web designers are generally very good at their craft, the majority of them are not marketers or SEO consultants.

The issue lies with business owners searching “web design” when looking to hire somebody to do their website, so it’s no wonder a design team would pop up. Rarely do people search “inbound marketing platforms” (which is what they should be typing in) when looking to build their website as the phrase isn’t as commonly used as “web design.”

So, where does the whole “building a house” analogy come into play? If a house were built by an interior designer, it would likely collapse, right? Most people wouldn’t allow an interior designer to build their house, and the same can be said for the website development process. To attract and convert visitors into sales, you need an entirely different skillset than design.

In order to disrupt this traditional way of thinking, web designers need to embrace marketing and SEO, and business owners need to treat the website as a true investment that will help them reach their business goals.

Where content and SEO come in

As we established in the previous sections, when it comes to building a website, looks matter but not nearly as much as the marketing strategy that goes into your website. Your website needs to make a good first impression, but it has to do so much more than that. A good website helps you to sell time and time again. I like to call this the SEO-content balance – SEO brings people to the site, and content converts them.

If a website has a great SEO structure, but terrible content, your process will likely breakdown. The same is true the other way around. If you have great content, but a terrible SEO strategy, people will never see it! You need to have a perfect balance between the two to have optimal success.

Your website’s ranking potential

To be competitive online, you need to invest in a custom website built with SEO in mind as it’s being developed. Your website should not be built with a templated theme (like so many of them are). It should be developed around your business’s needs and marketing goals.

Your website is an investment, not an expense. It takes time, effort, and talent to build it right, but trust me, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

If I haven’t made it clear by now, let me reiterate that your website is one of your company’s most important assets. All of your sales, marketing, and advertising efforts lead back to your website (or at least they should), so you need to make sure it’s modern, updated, and functions properly. There’s nothing worse than driving people to your site only for them to be disappointed that the site is clearly dated. It shows you don’t care enough about your company to leave a lasting impression on your audience.

At the end of the day, your website needs to get your phone ringing, not just serve as a piece of eye-candy, so make sure you’re spending the time and money to get it right.

Need more tips on how to grow your business? Check out our entire Guide to Marketing Professional Services. For more tips on website design, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

5 Steps to Optimize Your Website Like a Pro

photo credit: Google via photopin (license)

photo credit: Google via photopin (license)

Everyone uses search engines to find products and companies these days. About 60% of all consumers use Google search to find businesses, and over 80% of online searches result in direct sales or in-store visits. You want to optimize your website so that you show up on the top of these searches. This should be a top priority for any business owner.

Unfortunately, search optimization is not a fix it and forget it type of task. Google’s search algorithm is constantly evolving as they attempt to provide the best results for their searchers, and, of course, make as much money as possible in advertising. Your website has to keep up. You can’t simply hire an SEO expert to optimize your website once and forget about it for years; you’ll begin to see diminishing results.

With that in mind, you should be doing these following tasks on a regular basis to continually optimize your website, and stay ahead of the search curve.

5 Steps to Optimize your Website

1. Keyword Research

All search optimization begins with keyword research. You have to have an understanding of the current search landscape and your keywords. This is critical to not only do at the beginning of any marketing strategy, but also occasionally re-evaluate. These numbers always change, and you want to stay up-to-date.

Using Google Keyword Planner, begin with your industry and location. The tool will then give you a wide range of search terms, how often they are searched, and the competition over those words (based on how many businesses are buying ads based on those search terms.) You’ll want to find as many relevant keywords for your business as possible that have low competition but high search numbers.

Once you identify those terms, write them down word for word. Any slight variations on your identified keywords will hurt your optimization. Use these keywords in all of your efforts to optimize your website moving forward.

2. Create Great Content with Keywords in mind 

Content is the basis for the entire Duct Tape Marketing approach, and posting regular content will help your website show up on more searches. When approaching content, you must keep the keywords in mind. The entire point of the content is to reach people who are looking for it.

Use your keywords as a springboard for content ideas, and try to work your keywords into the posts as often (but as naturally) as possible. For even more tips on optimizing each post for search, check out Kala’s post on post optimization.

3. Speed it Up

Google is beginning to punish slow running websites. You want to make sure your page is always up to speed. Luckily there is a tool to do just that. Google Speed Insights will not only tell you if your page is running slow, but it will give you suggestions on how to speed it up.

It is important to do this regularly and even follow up on those suggestions. Things you are doing on your website (posting new content, new products or pages) can slow your website down. You don’t want to be penalized for slow speed if you don’t know it is occurring.

4. Use Landing Pages

You want every single one of your landing pages to keep your keywords in mind. If you’re creating a landing page for a new product or promotion, try to work a keyword that is most relevant to your individual product into the title and body copy of the page.

If there are multiple keywords you think apply to this promotion or item, you may want to test multiple landing pages with each page focused on one keyword. Do this too often, though and you’ll slow your website down, so be sure to delete underperforming landing pages.

5. Update Your Page Titles

Quick question: what are the page titles of your website? Most business owners have their page titles as simply the name of your business. This is great if your business name is perfectly optimized, but most aren’t (the best search names usually follow the City + Service format, like Kansas City Auto Body for example.)

Try changing your page titles to include your #1 keyword. This can be something as simple as “Your business name + Top Keyword” but you can get creative. Try to incorporate a slogan that includes the keyword.

Optimal Results

With these five tips, your website will be consistently delivering you optimal results. Be sure to evaluate those results, find what works and what doesn’t. Also, this is not a complete list by any means. SEO is an incredibly deep and ever-evolving strategy, but that means there are tons of great resources to help you along the way.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC