You’ve developed a great program, hired the best talent and found the best location—all that’s left is to throw up a quick landing or registration page and watch the business roll in, right?
In theory it might be that simple, but in practice, creating a website, landing page or registration page takes a bit more strategy than you might expect. There’s a lot of “noise” on the Internet, and it’s your job to make your site stand out from the crowd—both visually and behind the scenes.
The most important step is to optimize your site so Google ranks your page as high as possible in the search results. This is called Search Engine Optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, and Google has an ever-changing set of “rules” it looks for in a website. The more of these rules you follow, the higher you rank in the search results and the more traffic you’ll get.
No, dealing with SEO isn’t fun, but it’s necessary if you want to use your website as a resource and a selling tool. After all, what’s the point of creating a site if nobody can find it?
The following best practices will help your site rank at the top of the results page.
You might think it’s best to embed images with the biggest file size so they’re as clear as possible, but these large images (especially several large images on a page) can dramatically slow loading times on both mobile and desktop. Google doesn’t like this—it wants sites to load quickly for a better user experience. Resize your image and make them as small as possible (generally under 150 KB is fine) without sacrificing clarity. You can learn more about your page’s performance, here.
What’s an alt tag? It’s essentially a description text for any images or videos that are embedded on your site—from the social icons and brand logos, to hero and thumbnail images. You want these tags to describe the image at hand (this text will show up if the image doesn’t load), and ideally relate back to the content on the page itself.
Avoid Broken Links
This one can be a pain, especially if you have a more complex site, but crawl your pages for any broken links—both internal links and links that direct your traffic to outside sources. Broken links can be caused by a number of things, but if you find any, either update it with the correct URL or remove it entirely. Don’t skimp out on these links just because you don’t want to deal with potential future issues—links help reduce bounce rates and helps Google index your site.
Write Quality Content
Google rewards pages that are written and formatted well. And it makes sense. It’s populating results based on what your site says, so if there’s nothing to go off of, you won’t rank very high. Google has been favoring more long-form content lately, but don’t just word “vomit” on a page either—make sure you’re writing helpful page copy with your user in mind.
If you have Google Analytics set up to track your site’s performance, we’d guess more than 50 percent of your site’s traffic comes from mobile devices, not the classic laptop or desktop. When developing your site, make sure it’s responsive. This means that no matter if your user is on an iPad, smartphone or laptop, the site loads correctly on any screen and gives them the best user experience possible. You can see if your site is mobile friendly, here.
When you visit some of your favorite websites, have you ever looked critically at how the site is structured? Google prefers websites with a clear structure since it helps users navigate a site more efficiently and makes for an overall better user experience.
So what does this mean? First, make sure you have an optimized homepage that includes important key words that describe the content of the entire site. From there, add separate sections or categories, followed by subcategories and individual pages. You want the navigation to be clear—starting with the broadest to the most specific. Grab a piece of paper and outline the organization of your pages before you start development.
Take out the Trash
Details change, and sometimes the services or products you provide are no longer offered or relevant to your current clientele. If you have a page (or set of pages) that is no longer needed, either redirect the page somewhere else or update the copy and imagery so the page has a purpose. Never delete a page—Google will see this as a broken link (that’s bad, remember?), and you might create broken links on other pages on your site if you’ve linked to that deleted page elsewhere.