Getting Your Website Found on Google
The majority of business owners are more than aware of the fact that a website is essential for growing a business in today’s digital era. Unfortunately, a common misconception about getting a website created is that once you have your brand-spanking-new website designed and ‘live’ on the web, people will find it, read it and take action. Sadly this is not the case.
YOUR WEBSITE TEAM
There’s many steps required in the process of getting your website found online, and the design and development of a site is just the beginning. In this post we’ll look at some of the skills and roles needed to get your website up and running and the importance of factoring a few SEO basics into your website from the beginning of your website journey.
Website designers – the artists
Consider your website designer as your website artist. Generally speaking, the role of the website designer is to make your website look good, in other words – aesthetically pleasing. Web designers use programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator to create a ‘picture’ of what your website will look like, hopefully adhering to design, user experience and conversion principles.
A well-designed website is so important and your site must make a good visual impression to instill trust and lead your visitors toward your calls to action. But there are lots of working parts and behind-the-scenes research, planning and preparation needed to create a website that looks good, yet is fully functional and will actually be found online.
Website developers – the programmers
Enter search engine optimisation – the strategists
There’s a crucial step that’s commonly missed during the website design and development process and it’s essential to getting your website found online. This step is called search engine optimisation, or ‘SEO’.
SEO is about giving your website pages the best chance of being found when people search online for information that is closely related to your business. Whether you’re an e-commerce store or a local bricks and mortar business; a consultant or a course creator, your website is unlikely to be found without SEO.
Where web design/development meets SEO – the absolute basics
Whether you plan to use SEO to compete aggressively for keywords or simply want to be found at the top of page 1 for your business name, some of the basics of SEO should factor in at the beginning – the planning and design stages of your website.
1. The words (keywords) you use to describe pages and posts on your site
Are you using the same words and terms that people use to search for your product or service online? Or, are you only focusing on your business name or using industry jargon that the typical buyer of your product or service wouldn’t use?
For instance, when I type ‘bohemian homewares’ into Google (a keyword that people look up in Google approximately 200 times every month) here’s an example of a website that comes up. Note the keyword ‘bohemian homewares’ is in the title tag (the line of blue text). This most definitely helps this website rank close to the top of page one when people enter ‘bohemian homewares’ into Google as a search term.
2. The ‘meta tags’ or in very simple terms the ‘headings and signals’ used on a page.
Google can read the words that make up the text content on the pages of your website, and you can certainly include the most important words or keywords naturally throughout your text. But there’s another place you can add the most important keywords for a page to help Google better understand what it is about. The meta tags. If your website doesn’t make use of meta tags you can be pretty sure you will not make it anywhere close to page one.
If you have a WordPress website, there’s a fabulous plugin called Yoast that allows you to easily add meta tags to each of your web pages and blog posts (actually you can add them to categories, tags, products and other types of pages too). But you do need to know what focus keyword you want to use for each page, and this is usually worked out through keyword research (back to point #1 above). One important tip here is to ensure you never target the same keyword on two separate pages.
When you’re editing a page in WordPress, Yoast looks like this:
This is the part where you enter the SEO title (also known as the title tag) and description (referred to as the meta description) that shows up as the search snippet (your mini listing) in the Google search results. Headings throughout your page should also include your focus keyword or a very closely related keyword.
And let’s not forget your images – these are a prime spot to use meta tags too. In WordPress you can add extra information about each individual image so that your images also support your focus keywords for a page or blog post. Before you add an image to your WordPress media library it’s best to rename the image file name to be descriptive, using your focus keyword if possible. Then you can add a helpful ‘tag’ to the image known as the ‘image alt tag’ making use of your primary/focus keyword, or if you have a few images on the one page you can include some secondary focus keywords in there instead.
3. The theme and content of all the pages that you create, and how much information you should provide on each.
A sharp, enticing homepage is cool, but what other pages do you have? Do you have a page for each of the services you offer? How about an ‘About’ page or FAQs? Each additional page on your website – provided it has truly good information – gives your website another chance of being found.
Something I commonly hear from clients is that they want their site to be really visual and clean and they don’t want to have lots of text. Unfortunately having very little content is not going to help you be found online. If your website is purely an online business card and you have a unique business name, this is probably going to be ok, but if you have any competition or want to ‘rank’, content is hugely important.
Each page in the image below is targeting a different keyword group. Without these extra pages, this site would be missing out on the chance to get found for a wider range of keywords other than that on the home page – ‘Caravan park consultant’.
4. The way you structure your site, including menus, categories, linking from one page to another.
Is your site structure set up in a way to help your website visitors easily find the information they need?
Are menus clear?
Do blog categories make sense?
Do you make use of internal linking? (the pink words – these open to another page)
Getting the structure right not only makes it easier for Google to understand your website, it also helps your site flow nicely for your users, so they can easily find what they want. Not only that, you can lead visitors where you want them to go.
5. Connecting your website to Google Search Console
With Google being the major search engine, connecting to Google Search Console is essential. Search Console is one of Google’s free tools on offer to help make managing your online presence easier. Here you can do a ‘Fetch’, where you’re effectively saying to Google – saying ‘Hi, my website is here – come and check it out! – amongst many other things.
- You can submit your XML sitemap, which is a listing of all the pages and posts on your site you want Google to crawl and index
- You can cross-reference the number of pages Google has indexed against the number of pages on your website in case you have accidentally blocked some pages from the search engines
- You can check for 404 errors, which are pages that are missing from your site as they have been deleted, or an incorrect link has been used
- You can see which keywords people are using to find your site; where on average you rank for those keywords; and how many people see your website in the search results vs how many actually click on your website (referred to as your click-through rate)
Connecting to Bing Webmaster (similar to Search Console) should also be on the to-do list.
These tips are just the beginning!
The tips I’ve offered above are literally the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your website functioning effectively with the goal of being ‘found’ on Google or other search engines.
It’s really important to understand that getting results from your website requires much more than being ‘easy on the eye’ and getting the visual elements perfect. There are hundreds of other technical considerations to take into account that make your website more appealing to your readers/visitors/customers and Google.
If you’re having a new website designed, be sure to find out if the site will be SEO-friendly and if this is included in the fee. And be aware that while some web developers are truly SEO savvy, that is probably more the exception rather than the norm. It’s hard to know it all unless you’re working in it every day.
As a client, being informed is the best option and if you know that SEO setup is not included in the web development process, you now know that you’re probably not going to show up for relevant keywords or even your business name, until you do some SEO work on your site.
If you need a hand, be sure to get in touch. I’d love to help.
Author - Maz Hancock
Maz is a SEO Specialist based on the Gold Coast and enjoys working closely with digital marketing teams and ambitious local business owners to implement SEO in a way that’s results-focused, simple and effective.