On the 10th day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: PIC-up YOUR WEBSITE
By PIC-up, we mean make your website image friendly…and maybe venture into the world of visually-driven social media, like Pinterest and Instagram.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Say more with less by using trust-building, interest-capturing and telling images. Original pictures are best; they often humanize an otherwise nameless, faceless “we” behind your company name. But if you can’t get original pics (or you can’t find one that Barney from the Mail Room didn’t photo bomb), stock imagery has (literally) millions of options. Paid stock photos tend to be higher quality, but even free stockpiles like Pixabay or Pexels have a wide array that might fit the bill. With nearly any stock photo, if possible, do a bit of editing to make it more yours.
No matter where you get your images, do make sure that the images convey positive messages to your audience. Think about it: is a close-up of a dentist’s drill really likely to ease a potential patient’s dental phobia? Is a unicorn-inspired dye job really what you want your potential clients to associate with your salon’s coloring capabilities? Select images that portray the emotions and experiences you want your customers and clients to have when they interact with you—lots of smiles and energy.
Don’t have the time? Contact SonicSEO.com for assistance managing the visual appeal of your online presence.
On the 9th day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: CLEAN UP YOUR 404 ERRORS
In Internet speak, a 404 is a “page not found” error. It’s the disheartening (or enraging) message searchers get when the search result they clicked on really doesn’t go anywhere. As you can imagine, these hurt both your ranking potential and goodwill with your human users…so you want to eliminate them.
To eliminate 404s, you first have to find them. And that’s actually pretty easy with Google Webmaster Tools/Search Console.
To log into Search Console, you have to have a Google account. If you have Google Analytics embedded on your site, then you can use the same login credentials. Once you’re in Search Console, navigate to the “Crawl” tab and select “Crawl Errors”. This will show you how many 404 errors there are and help you find them.
Once you find the 404s, you need to fix them. Most of the time, 404s happen because a page or blog got moved (i.e., the URL slug changed) and the redirect wasn’t done properly (or at all). That’s an easy fix. When you login to your website, assign a new URL that you want users to be redirected to when they click on the URL that is currently taking them to the 404 error page.
There may be times when 404s aren’t avoidable or are just hard to find. The next best option is to customize your 404-error page. If you can at least make users laugh about their dead-end (like these clever designers) and help them restart their search, then the momentary inconvenience may be forgiven without bouncing.
If you’ve got broken links all over the place, call in professional help. Contact SonicSEO.com.
On the 8th day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: FRESHEN UP YOUR CONTENT
Search engines do not want to send their users to search results that have gone stale. To make sure that’s a category your website does not fall into, you need to update your content regularly. However, you do not want to continually overhaul or change your website pages. That’s confusing for human users who regularly visit your site, and it can hurt your ranking potential.
Instead, you can post “new” content without generating completely new content by refreshing and reposting your most popular blogs.
First, identify blogs that have already performed well. That indicates which topics your users are most interested in. Then, update it by:
- Adding new content or details
- Removing outdated information (including studies or links)
- Reformatting it to change the order in which the content is presented and/or to make it more scanner-friendly
Update the title, too, but make sure that it’s evident that this blog is a new and improved version of one that viewers already liked.
While you’re making changes, don’t change the blog’s URL. That will kill the search engine performance it already achieved.
Of course, once you review your blogs to see what topics got the most clicks, generate more. Brand new content is always, good, too. If you have trouble keeping up with a regular blog schedule, contact SonicSEO.com for help.
In the spirit of the holiday season, SonicSEO.com is gifting free marketing advice for every business that has a website (and that should be every business). Check out our 12 Days of SEO Bootcamp on Facebook. Each day, we’ve posted valuable information about how to monitor, assess and improve your website’s search engine performance, user experience, branding impact and more.
If you need more than bootcamp for your website performance to start off strong in 2018, please contact us for an SEO consultation.
On the 7th day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: BUILD UP YOUR LINK PROFILE
Link building is often completely behind-the-scenes aspect of a search engine optimization campaign, but it doesn’t have to be. You can contribute to the number and quality of inbound links to your site (a significant ranking factor); all you have to do is ask.
Offline, you can ask to have people add links to your site from theirs. You just have to make sure that the people you’re asking have websites that are credible and relevant to your industry. So, some people you might want to approach include:
Professional organizations and/or certifying agencies, especially those that have directories of recommended service providers
Well-known and trusted bloggers
Community economic development organizations
Most of the best link-building prospects are free. In fact, you should NEVER pay for links. Part of what makes free links so value to ranking is that search engines recognize that you haven’t bought your way to an inbound link-rich website.
On the 6th day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN FOR MOBILE USAGE
Most people don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a mobile device, and if you do, you can probably count these Luddites on one hand. But what’s more important about the growing usage of mobile devices is that more and more people are using them exclusively to search for what they want, whether that’s a new pair of running shoes, a local diner for a quick lunch or online deals for their Napa Valley getaway.
So, if you want more customers to find your products and services, you need to make sure your website is showing up on mobile search results, and that requires a mobile-friendly website.
If your website is relatively new, likely it was built on a responsive platform that automatically detects and adjusts to the screen size on which it’s being viewed. But, even on responsive platforms, your website’s layout should be conducive to top-to-bottom scanning and thumb-scrolling. Phone numbers need to be hyperlinked for click-to-call capability, and navigation needs to be simplified so mobile viewers can more easily find their way into and out of their current path.
Honestly, if you don’t know if your website is optimized for mobile usage, it’s best to ask the experts. Contact SonicSEO.com for a site evaluation and free consultation.
On the 5th day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: TEST YOUR CONTACT FORMS AND EMAIL LINKS
Customer service is marketing. If your website is going to be your most powerful marketing tool, it has to deliver a good customer experience. That means the portals through which existing and potential customers can contact you online have to work—all the time, every time.
You will never know what your customers may be experiencing unless you test your “contact us” capabilities yourself. It’s easy to do:
- Create a testing schedule—at least once per month
- Assign someone to complete the form on the Contact Us page of your website
- Before entering data, clear your browser history
- Fill in all fields and hit the button to submit the form
- Follow up with the person/email account to which form submissions are sent to make sure it was received
Of course, a working Contact Us form is useless if no one is checking the email where form submissions land. Make sure that an experienced customer service representative is checking this email multiple times each day and responding to and/or forwarding customer messages appropriately.
SonicSEO.com tests contact forms as part of our inclusive site maintenance. Contact us to learn more.
On the 4th day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: TEST YOUR WEBSITE’S LOADING SPEED
Internet viewers have no patience for slow-loading websites, and search engines know it. To boost ranking potential (because it boosts user experience), your website has a need for speed. But you don’t know if your loading speed needs improving until you test it—both your desktop and mobile version.
There are a number of speed tests you can use, but our favorites include:
—this is Google’s speed test, which shows your mobile and desktop speed test results in side-by-side tabs
GTMetrix.com—this site generates a report with all the major data points about your website’s loading time, like page speed score and fully loaded time in seconds
Google’s PageSpeed Insights have a number of clickable results that provide guidelines and tips for how to fix issues dragging down your page speed. Many loading speed problems can be remedied by optimizing and/or compressing images, updating caching parameters and compressing back-end code that controls how your website renders.
If your website loading speeds are poor, contact SonicSEO.com for a website tune-up.
On the 3rd day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: OPTIMIZE YOUR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS PROFILE
Google likes to keep Internet searchers on their properties, which includes Google maps and the snippets of top-ranking results immediately below the map, like these results for “private security Albuquerque”
To show up in these snippets, you have to provide Google with your contact information rather than make Google search for it…and optimizing your Google My Business profile is pretty easy. Assuming you already have a Google My Business profile, here’s what you need to do:
- Make sure all fields (required and optional) are filled in—leave nothing blank
- When possible, in relevant fields, incorporate keyword terms that you want to be found for and your target geographic location—be as specific as possible without being restrictive
If you do not already have a Google My Business profile (or have no idea if you do but want one), contact SonicSEO.com.
On the 2nd day of boot camp, my marketing expert told me: MAKE YOUR SITE LOCAL SEARCH-FRIENDLY
Mobile devices have GPS integration. Because mobile devices and their users can be located on a map, their mobile searches should be able to find the business and services they need close by. That’s why “near me” searches are skyrocketing.
Make sure your business’ website shows up for “near me” searches relevant to your products/services by:
- Updating and optimizing your My Business (a Google property) profile
- Including your contact information—including street address—as indexable text on your website
- Creating content targeted to local searches and searchers
For help “localizing” your website, contact the Internet marketing experts at SonicSEO.com.