Written by: Kate Greunke, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Making sure potential clients can find your business website is crucial to running a successful brand. Search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary for helping your website talk to Google, telling it all about what you offer, where you offer it, and the people you serve.
On a basic level, this means having more than just pretty photos on your website and more than just a little text. On a more advanced level, having good SEO means implementing specific tactics and tools to ensure that your website is doing more than simply "sitting" on the internet.
SEO is a long-term strategy and won’t provide instant results. It is bolstered by good website design, blogging, and making use of free Google tools. Let’s talk about each of these and how you can maximize them for your business.
How Your Website Layout & Design Impacts SEO
Search engine optimization is judged by several factors, including how attractive and easy your website is to use, how fast your site loads, whether it contains optimized blog posts, and lastly, whether it is mobile-friendly and secure.
In a perfect world, everyone would address their SEO while simultaneously building their website. However, most businesses find themselves commissioning a new website from a designer, then chasing down some much needed SEO help months after the website has launched and received very little traffic.
SEO involves making changes to the imagery, text, and layout of a website. It only makes sense to work with a website designer who also incorporates SEO into the foundation of your website. Otherwise, you’re essentially paying for a new website…twice.
Regardless, you might be ready to implement a few website improvements on your own. Here’s my short list of 12 website success rules to keep in mind.
12 Website Success Rules:
Employ a set color palette, font pairing, and logo; this should be consistent throughout the website and the rest of your marketing.
Use high-quality photography; stock images from Unsplash or Pixabay are always good, free options.
Avoid using image slideshows; they slow the loading speed of your website.
Name each image file to include the service you offer and the city and state/province you are targeting
Keep all verbiage in the “first person” voice (I or we)
Build a complete home page that includes client reviews, calls-to-action, and client-focused copywriting
List the cities and states that you serve on both your homepage and in the footer
Position your Services page around your ideal clients’ specific needs, limiting yourself to 3 service offerings if possible
Use a lead magnet to entice people to join your mailing list; make sure to email your list monthly to stay top-of-mind.
Avoid using pop-ups; they don’t convert well compared to landing pages.
Blog at least monthly; this gives search engines something new and relevant to index, thus increasing the “surface area” of your website and the likelihood that your website will appear in search results.
Use online forms to easily capture client information or allow them to book calls using Calendly / Acuity.
Why Blogging is Great for Website Traffic
Writing regular and consistent blog posts is excellent for SEO because it gives Google more content to search and more keywords to find on your site whenever someone searches for items or services that happen to be related to your business.
Search engine optimization is similar to categorizing a document in a filing cabinet. In the real world, you'd put that document in a clearly labeled folder, making it easy for your team to pull up what they need in a moment's notice. Google is a giant filing cabinet, and your website, including your blog posts, are documents within that cabinet. Giving your blog post an eye-catching title and writing your post with the proper format will make it easy for Google to help people find what they need.
7 ways to optimize your blog posts for search engines:
Use an SEO-friendly header; I use Coschedule’s free Headline Analyzer
Headers within the post that are appropriate to the post’s main ideas
Categories ‒ keep them straight-forward not abstract so Google knows what to do with them
Label image files or “Alt Tags” with a description of the image and your geographic service location
Write an excerpt for each blog post; keep it straightforward with words that are most important
Don’t use tags, as tags will create additional pages in your website, which can be interpreted as blank if there are only a couple posts for a given tag ‒ not great for SEO
Blog at least once per month; Google notices your consistency!
Why You Should use Google Search Console
Google Search Console is not another name for Google Analytics. Search Console is actually something entirely different; it is a tool that helps Google properly index your website. To put it in simple terms. Google Search Console will tell you if and when your website has an issue that might impact SEO or user experience.
How to Make Sense of Google Analytics
To avoid being overwhelmed by the vast amount of data available through Google Analytics, just keep track of these four metrics:
Your overall traffic (aka: How many people are visiting your website in a given time span? If you see that you are receiving very little traffic, you then need to ramp up your content marketing efforts. Start blogging 2-4 times per month to increase your short and long-tail keywords and share those posts on social media and Pinterest. This constant flow of fresh content gives Google more to index, plus Google tends to favor websites that regularly publish blog posts, as that is a sign that the business is still active.)
Your traffic sources (aka: How are people finding your website? Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, organic search, something else? This is a great way to judge whether your social media efforts are working. They should be sending traffic to your website. Google Analytics will let you know in one glance.)
Your bounce rate (aka: How many people are landing on your site, only to leave without clicking on anything? A bounce rate that exceeds 40% over a 30-day period is a warning that your SEO or marketing is attracting the wrong person or that your website isn't matching what your ideal visitor needs to see.)
Your visitors (aka: Where are they located? If a large portion of website traffic is coming from an area or country that you don't serve, something is wrong. If most of your traffic is coming from areas that you service or would like to service, that's a great sign that your SEO, marketing, and website are doing their job.)
While there are many other stats you could be tracking with Google Analytics, these top four will give you a realistic look at the health of your online presence. If you are selling products, for example, you'd want to continue measuring this data and so much more (e.g., tracking a customer's path before/after they buy or almost buy from you to learn more about their behavior).
How to Maximize Your Google Business Listing
Your Google Business Listing is a free, fast way to tell Google exactly who you are, where you are, and what services you offer. It puts your business on Google Maps and helps people find you when they're looking for an "interior designer near me," for example. While this might sound like a great tool, less than half of small business owners actually use it, and even fewer use it correctly or maintain it.
When setting up your Google Listing, make sure to fully complete every section, including the lesser-known Q&A and story sections. The story/about section of your listing allows you to share a brief bio about yourself or your company in 750 characters or less. This is a perfect place to use keywords that pinpoint your ideal client, service area, and actual services.
Your contact information, location, and hours of operation should be current. Your photos should be of high quality and should include you, your team, and the exterior and interior of any retail space or office space you use. You can add new photos every few weeks to keep your listing fresh, which can go a long way in getting more local eyes on your listing.
If you receive the same questions over and over, add them to the Question & Answer section. Additionally, be sure to respond to the questions you might get asked by Google users within that listing. You should also be asking past clients to write reviews of your business on your Google listing. That star rating is one of the first things potential leads will look at when they find you, before contacting you.
On that note, consider using Google Business's appointment scheduling tool. You would need to integrate it with your current scheduling tool (Acuity or Calendly, for example) to prevent double-bookings. This integration is an easy way for people to go straight to an appointment or meeting with you as soon as they see your listing.
From using consistent branding to repeatedly showing up on your blog and in your email marketing, your efforts will snowball and pay off. Keep showing up, and keep doing the work. Your business truly CAN be successful. You’ve got this!
Kate Greunke, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kate Greunke founded Socialite in 2014 as a virtual agency of professional marketing specialists exclusively for the home industry. Kate hosts a marketing podcast, The Kate Show, which is ranked in the top 1.5% of all podcasts globally and available on all podcasting apps. In 2021, Kate was named 20 Under 40 by Window Fashion Vision Magazine. She currently resides in Wisconsin with her husband and two children while managing an international team and extensive client roster.