In Part 1 of this article we examined the first five tips concerning SEO for start-ups released by Google’s Tech Lead as part of its commitment to greater transparency. The tips are intended to help the small business owner with a website of 50 pages or less to rank well on Google for a handful of related terms along with the brand name, without having to spend years studying the art of online marketing. The tips are a collection of no-nonsense, back-to-basics checks intended to give those with a business to run the peace of mind that they aren’t practicing search incorrectly in what little time they may have to dedicate to marketing. The first five tips were covered in yesterday’s post, and today we will finish up with the final five tips:
6. Site Strategy — The website is up and running so the last thing you’ll feel like doing is going back to the drawing board, but Google recommends a search strategy check when up and running. This is simply a process of considering whether or not each different type of user you expect on your site can find what they need. Navigation checks form part of this task – if a user is sent to an internal page on the site from a search result, can they figure out where they are and navigate elsewhere? More often than not, search users will click on a result and be taken to a secondary page on the site rather than the homepage. From there, a clear path must be available to other areas of the site.
When working on site strategy, you’ll also need to assess the content of each page. As a rule of thumb, each page should be focused on one particular product, service, or topic. Time is often the most valuable currency a new business possesses, which can lead to new information being added to old pages for quickness’ sake. If that has been the case, consider whether very long pages can be broken up into their own new, shorter pages.
7. Conversion Definition — An extension of point six, the seventh piece of advice from Google is to define a conversion and make that conversion possible on each page. A conversion doesn’t necessarily have to mean a checkout, it could be something a little earlier in the buying cycle such as signing up for a newsletter, submitting a contact form or sending the page to a friend.
8. Copy Considerations — Text is obviously one of the most important elements of any SEO campaign, but for those who don’t have time on their side and just want to get the basics right, simple practices (such as including keywords naturally on each page) are important pointers. This means paying attention to what your customers actually search for compared with the more technical or corporate jargon you may use to describe your service. The example Google gives is use ‘running shoes’ rather than ‘athletic footwear,’ as that’s what those looking to buy sneakers will type in. Other types of content can also be included on the page in order to show the visitor that you’re a reputable company – product reviews, frequently asked questions, shipping, return and warranty information all are possibilities.
9. Page Check List — In order to get your startup’s website of less than 50 pages ranking well, Google says each page on your site should feature:
- A meta description
- A descriptive, unique title
- A unique topic
- Anchor text that describes the link, rather than simply saying ‘click here’
10. Things to Avoid — However much time you can spare to dedicate to your small business online marketing, there are one or two things you can do that will undo all of your best efforts in minutes. Google’s pitfalls to avoid include:
- If an SEO promises you certain search positions, it IS too good to be true.
- They may seem like quick fixes but buying links to gain PageRank will have the exact opposite of your desired effect should the search engine catch wind of it.
- Creating a website that looks flashy but has very little actual text to be indexed is a mistake as far as ranking is concerned.
- Slow-loading sites – two seconds is what a customer deems to be an acceptable window for a page to load. Google’s preferred page load time is half a second or less.
- Don’t just rely on Google as your sole source for site visitors – try social media and create a buzz about your product or service. Aim to use social media holistically, focusing your energy on the best fit for your target demographic.
There you have it! The 10 items that Google recently identified as most important for start-ups to keep top-of-mind when designing and implementing their first website. The key thing is, however, to realize that every website needs to keep these items in mind and periodically review things to ensure that none have slipped by the wayside in terms of importance.
Image: Starting A Business by Shutterstock