4 Simple Ways to Optimize Your Website for People and Search EnginesHave you ever come across a website that was so hard to navigate that you left as soon as you arrived? Chances are, the owners of that website may have focused too much energy on optimizing it for search engines and not enough for regular Joes like you and me. The last time we checked, it was humans making purchases of our products and services, not search engines so shouldn’t we put them first when creating our websites? But, we need the search engines to help those people find our sites in the first place…
When your website is optimized it helps search engines crawl, index and rank it which should ultimately lead to more visitors. And when your site is optimized it provides a better user experience, which should lead to more conversions (e.g., sign-ups, sales, etc).
Today we’ll explore some simple ways to optimize your site to make both real people and search engines happy, and guess what? It’s easier than you might think. Here are four things you can do today:
Title Tags Matter
Title tags are the bread and butter of optimizing your page for search. Simple, but often overlooked. These little buggers play an important role in helping your page in the much-coveted organic rankings (the ones you don’t have to pay for). Title tags interpret the content of a page for the search engine so they know what your page is about. To make yours better, focus on three core things:
- Make each title tag unique - Each title tag needs to be different from other tags on your site with special emphasis on the first words. Place your keywords front and forward here. For example, if you are optimizing your page for your dog walking service, your title tag could be: San Francisco Dog Walking Service | Company Name Dog Walkers
- Keep it short – Your title tags are truly the place to keep it short and concise. A good rule of thumb is about 70 characters or less (including spaces), so be thoughtful in coming up with a title that represents your page.
- Remember the humans – The effort you’ve made in #1 & #2 will help your page appear in the search engine results page (SERP), but remember, now you need to appeal to a person and get them to click through the result to your page. Use action verbs like “Meet Our Dog Walkers” and use your company name to encourage trust.
Make it Easy on the Eyes
When a visitor arrives at your site you have just 3-5 seconds to capture their attention or risk losing them as they bounce off your site possibly to never return. Your design and navigation can have a huge impact on this. Look at your site with a fresh set of eyes, or recruit a friend who has never seen it before. Consider the following:
- Navigation – Is it easy to get around and find information? Make sure you have a clean, easy-to-understand main navigation at, or near the top. Too many pages, or options can confuse visitors or cause them to get lost and lose sight of that all important call to action (we’ll get to that in a minute…).
- Colors and Fonts – Stick to a few fonts on your site to avoid it getting messy and hard to read. It’s also best to avoid too many colors (especially competing ones) or you’ll have what we refer to as the “fiesta platter” (not a good thing). By using fonts and colors that are consistent with your branding, you also make your site immediately identifiable to your visitor.
- Too Much, Too Slow – Presenting visitors with too much content can overwhelm them – a sure fire way to get visitors to leave, and leave fast. Break your content into digestible and easy to scan sections. Bullet points and lists are helpful for this. Also, make sure your pages load quickly. Less than a second is optimal. The search engines can penalize you for having a slow-loading website and your visitors certainly don’t have all day to wait for your pages to load.
What Do You Want Them to Do
Ah, what you want your visitor to do. Also known as the call-to-action. This is a biggie and one you want to make sure it is crystal clear on your homepage and other important pages of your site that affect conversions. Pick one call-to-action to focus on and ensure all your copy and graphics support it. You can test the heck out of calls-to-action by trying text links vs. buttons, button colors, copy of the CTA, etc. Our rule of thumb is to always use an active verb in your CTA such as sign up, donate, take a free test drive, try it, buy now.
Content – Kind of a Big Deal
We’re finishing the list with content because it’s what makes your website valuable to visitors. Does your site provide useful, informative content, or just try to sell? You may want to consider that because when people search online they are most often looking for an answer, such as”San Francisco Dog Walkers”. If you’ve got a site with great content about different urban walks you can take your dog on in San Francisco, dog walking tips, dog walking Q&A, not only will your visitors find value in what you offer, but the search engines will too, leading more visitors your way.
These 4 tips should help you optimize your website for visitors of all kinds, human and search.
Have any tips you’d like to add to our list? Share in the comments.
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