A beginners guide to website strategy
In the real world if your store has a better location, if you can get in front of more people, if everyone can recognize your store from a mile away, you have a distinct advantage.
The Internet doesn’t work that way.
If you rent space in the West Edmonton mall beside a popular retailer you’re sure to increase your foot traffic. The catch is, retail space beside Holts, the Disney or Apple store will come at a premium.
When you build a website it’s like you put your store in a farmers field somewhere near Grenfell, SK. As your site acquires more links, is updated more often, you move closer and closer to a bigger town (more “traffic”). The front page of Google, the epicentre for qualified traffic, takes time and deliberate effort to get to the front page of and every day it’s getting more and more competitive.
The front page of Google is a zero sum game…
as one website goes up, another has to go down. All four major players in the market can’t rank number 1. As one company builds links and increases their rankings, other websites feel the equal and opposite reaction. If you don’t start being proactive about your online presence you’re going to see you traffic decrease from Google.
And I’m not sure if you’ve checked your traffic sources report in Google Analytics lately, Google organic search is probably your websites largest traffic provider. Might be a good idea to build a strategy to increase that traffic from Google.
You could advertise on Facebook or LinkedIn or reddit or the Leaderpost.com. Telling more people to come to your website should help you get closer to your goal.
You have defined a goal haven’t you?
OK we may need to take a step back here. No one really “needs” a website, think about it.
You need a contact us page so people can get a hold of you. You need a products page so people can see your new products regularly. You need a staff page so potential customers can see ‘who’ they’ll be dealing with if they so choose to set up an appointment. But no one really needs a website, a website is a tool, a tactic within a strategy. The sooner you recognize this the sooner you can being to use your website to its full potential.
No one really needs a website, companies need to be found, they need to be searchable, within a couple words hopefully. So that in the moment when your next customer has a problem, they pick up their phone, pull up Google and search for (insert your company’s keywords here) “funny marketing speaker Regina” and boom you’re right there.
So what’s the goal of your website? Have you had that conversation with your marketing team about how you can measure almost everything that goes on on your website and you could help them measure their campaigns too? You mean you haven’t had that conversation??!
Once you understand the basics about Google you can increase your traffic exponentially and come up from a variety of keywords of your choosing. That’s right you could say, I want to rank number 1 for “nobody likes a no-it-all” Jeph!! Well goodluck to you as I have that spot already. HA!
So how do you get to the front page of Google?
The easy answer is with great content will come great rank. But you’ll see in an average search a couple useless links within the search (the less competitive the more useless links, the more competitive the more relevant links). Google’s slowing adapting their algorithm to combat that. For Google, they want to provide the best search result possible. If they don’t, we will find a better search engine. So far that strategy seems to be working for them. Don’t try to out-smart Google, just try to give it what it wants (sounds like some sort of creature from the technological black lagoon).
So how do you “give Google what it wants”?
It really comes down to three parts that combine to create an online strategy. (explained further below)
1. Crawlability – how easy is it for Google to crawl? (Do you have a lot of duplicate pages? How about customer page titles? Do your images have the proper “alt text”? There are many factors that go into the crawlability of your website, we suggest using a company like Hubspot or Moz).
In the Search Engine Results below for “home builders” across Canada, 10 columns in, you can see a column labeled “On-Page Analysis Grade” that rates each page for it’s optimization for the keyword phrase “home builders (insert city)”. For “home builders Calgary” the fifth search result is Sterling Homes Groups website. Sterling Homes has the lowest Domain AND page authority out of all ten of the results but they still end up fifth. Being that the page is an “A” grade in Moz’s rankings gives this page a little more Google juice and helps it rank with websites which are much larger and have more authority.
2. Link Profile – how many websites link back to your website? (What influential websites are linking back to your website? What local websites are linking back to your website? Does your website get shared on social media platforms?) Though many people will discount links as an important metric when it comes to your website strategy, we’ve found in the research we’ve done on website that higher link counts correlate with a higher domain authority and larger amounts of organic search engine traffic. You need links!!
As you’ll see in the search engine results page reports below, “Page Authority” and “Domain Authority” are the major metrics Moz uses to measure a website’s ranking potential. They are very closely tied to “Linking Root Domains” essentially these are other websites that are linking to the given website. No, Domain and Page Authority aren’t perfect, but they are a great objective measurement that can be used to benchmark against competitors in your industry.
3. How often are you updating your website and with what? (Do you blog regularly? Do you have something that’s news worthy monthly? What story does your company/organization have to tell? Have you asked your employees what they’d write a blog about if you gave them the chance?). The new reality is that Google favors current, updated websites as opposed to stale, old, stagnent 1990 style websites.
Step 1: Crawlability (how to spoon feed Google)
All websites are not created equal. But you can give your website an unfair advantage just by knowing what Google is looking for. Whatever keyword you want to rank for, you need to have that keyword in your page title, URL, within a couple paragraphs, in your meta description, meta tags, and hopefully in an image and in the image alt tag.
Sounds confusing but Luckily we use this super powered company Moz that stays up to date on what Google likes and dislikes. They help us generate reports like this:
Moz uses a 36 point measurement criteria to grade pages, the full report can be seen here: On Page grade for “nobody likes a know-it-all”.
Optimizing your website for the keywords you want to come up for is like giving your website an unfair advantage. It’s not the only thing you need to do but it is one of the most important. We like to start with optimization than move on to the next two.
Step 2: Your Link Profile (tells how valuable a website is)
The most underrated part of your website strategy is your link acquisition strategy. Everyone has heard about the blackhats, the JC Penny’s getting penalized for buying links en masse. Here are 10 more brands that were penalized by Google. What we do is naturally increase links to our websites. Be that with Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, YouTube, Vimeo, Alltop, reddit, StumbleUpon, Squidoo, and other content rich website. If you’re creating and sharing remarkable content, people we want to link to it, you won’t have to pay them. The cost goes into the effort of making your website worth Tweeting about, your YouTube channel so good people have to bookmark it.
If you want to find out how many links you have linking back to your website you can check here for free using Open Site Explorer. It’s a Moz tool and one of the most valuable when comparing against your competitors.
Your job on your website is to create a story or a resource so valuable or interesting that people will want to visit and share it over and over again.
Step 3: How often are you updating your website and with what?
The only thing that is going to protect your website from future Google algorithm changes is amazing content. As rankings get more competitive always remember, Google wants to provide the best search engine results possible. They have a vested interest in doing this, better search results keeps people searching. Bad search results makes people try other search engines.
For whatever keyword phrases you’re trying to rank for make sure you’re creating pages and posts on your website dedicated to those phrases. Video will help you, images are great and even better are infographics.
Write better headlines, 80% of people don’t read past the headline.
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” -David Ogilvy
Half the battle is writing something that someone else would want to read. The other half is convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter what you’re creating as long as you’re creating. Other people aren’t going to like everything, don’t tie yourself to the results of your content. Just keep creating, keep telling your story.
Have more questions to ask about SEO but don’t know where to start? Let’s have a chat over a frozen yogurt or a full meal of food or something. Cool beans.