I see this happening all the time with small business web design. Someone is setting up a business and says 'I need a website' and I want it to look like this and maybe I'll have some of those fancy widget things that show the weather or the traffic news or whatever. The site gets built, tested and published and then just sits there waiting for people to find it.
For a while, the owner goes around telling all his friends about his wonderful new site and the traffic to the site will spike for a few days whilst his friends admire his site.
After a while though the traffic tails off because no one is actively looking for the things the site has to offer and maybe no-one is really sure what the site is targeting in the first place.
There is no need for this to happen if some careful planning goes into the website design from the start.
Obviously, you have in mind the sort of customers you want to attract for your business or service but do you know how they might set about finding you in a search engine. What are the keywords that people may enter in local searches for your product or service? Some of the obvious keywords may be highly competitive and you will find it very hard to compete with the big players. A better small business SEO strategy may be to optimise for a less obvious keyword or string of words.
If you've read this far you'll know by now that I specialise in search engine optimisation for local searches.
Let's say you have a business in York making cupcakes and you want to target customers within easy driving distance of your business so that you can deliver your wonderful cakes to them. Starting with a keyword phrase of 'cupcakes York' I will look at what actual local searches people are entering on Google in order to find cupcakes in the York area. These may mention 'delivery' or 'weddings' or all sorts of things.
I will build up a list of possible keywords that may be relevant to your site, look at the competition and plan how each page of your site might be related to that keyword or set of keywords. For example, you might have a page specifically for wedding cupcakes and another page for delivery. That way people can find your site for 'wedding cupcakes' or 'cupcakes delivered'.
These keywords with multiple words in them are known as long-tailed keywords for example 'affordable web design York' and are much easier to optimise for and compete for than single-word keywords such as 'websites' or 'cupcakes' for example.
A little bit of planning at this stage means that you know exactly what sort of local searches each page is going to be targeted at and that helps when writing the content including the text for titles, headings and the captions for pictures.
It doesn't matter whether the text is maintained by a content management system or by being coded onto the page, your on-page optimisation relies on some upfront planning in order to be effective. I will work with you to understand your business and decide what keywords are best for your search engine optimisation to enable customers to find you.
Before writing the website text content it is a good idea to review a few things:
Step 1 - Identify who the website is for
A common misconception is that a website is for the business owner who commissions the work and often I get given sample text content that is designed to enhance the reputation of the owner, rather than to appeal to an audience of prospective customers. The text reads more like a CV. Its not often that this text is suitable for a website. A website is for the people who have reached your site and you need to understand why they are there and what they are looking for.
Step 2 - Recognise what problem the person browsing your site is trying to solve
Your site visitor will probably have some reason to be there and they have not arrived at your site by chance. They are almost certainly looking for something; something to buy to satisfy a need, or a service that they need to solve a problem they have.
Lets say you have a site as a therapist. Your clients will have problems that they are trying to find solutions for so make sure that they can see the problem as they might see it for instance anxiety, depression, anger, relationship difficulties etc. Keep the text jargon free so that the average teenager can easily understand it.
Step 3 - Create content that addresses the context of the person browsing the site.
Having found that the site potentially addresses the problem that the visitor to your site is searching to resolve, make sure that there is enough well written text that tells your visitor that: a) You understand their problem b) You can help address the problem
Step 4 - Provide the information the person browsing the site is looking for to be able to make a decision
Cover all the basics of taking the decision to proceed. If its not an instant on-line purchase this may involve the location, parking arrangements, hours of working, environment, at what stage does someone have to commit to spending money?
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