A new website can be a lot of things but what you don’t want it to be is a frustration. Since we’re making websites for clients day in, day out, we’ve got some pretty easy tips on how to get the most out of your new website, whether it’s one that we’ve made for you or one that you’re just setting up on your very first website builder. We hope you find the below tips on some easy, quick website wins useful!
Optimize Your Site for Search Engines
To someone who has been at this for a while, it almost seems like it’s a given that new websites will need to prove their worth to a search engine’s customer base (people who use Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) but for a brand new website owner, this may not be obvious. Making a new website is almost as emotional of an experience for most people as buying a new home & they figure that there are tons of other people waiting in breathless anticipation to see & use their new website, and they watch their traffic numbers when the site’s launched to see … nothing. This can be really discouraging to someone, so let’s talk about a couple of basic principles governing organic (search) traffic to websites.
- New websites pop up every day
- Millions of web pages are created, deleted, and edited every day
- Search engines are increasingly focusing on quality content
- It takes time & dedication to grow organic website traffic
Optimizing your website for search engines is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, and should be considered in just about every new piece of content that a website publishes. Mostly, ask yourself when you’re publishing new content, “Is this actually useful to my audience, or is it a fluff piece?”
Search Rankings Take Time
A search engine first needs to be aware that a website exists, then they need to know the site’s layout to know where to find new content during an automated check of that site’s content, called a crawl, then they need to determine which of the website’s pages they’re going to possibly serve up in search results, called indexing, then they need to determine the site’s primary focus, then serve up the indexed pages in search results. After all of that work, a search engine is going to watch to see if the person who clicked on the search result link is happy with what they found in that content, or if they come back to the search again right away, which is primarily how search engines are ranking the content’s quality.
Play The Long Game & Focus On Some Quick Wins
A couple of really quick wins that most new website owners overlook at first, especially if they’re opening a service business, is getting listed on Google & Apple maps. This might not sound like it fits in with the business model you’ve got in mind but expand your consideration a bit to take into account one example – what happens when someone buys a new house in an area that they’re just moving to? They’re possibly moving for work & are going to need some specific services to help out with the new digs, like lawn care, pool care, pest control, etc. Personally, I head to maps first & just see which businesses are closest to me, then research them after that but if a great business isn’t on maps, they’re missing a huge opportunity.
Getting on Google maps is easy, just get your Google My Business profile set up: https://www.google.com/business/?ppsrc=GPDA2
You know those spam robocalls about “your Google business listing” that never seem to stop? They’re talking about Google My Business.
For Apple maps, check this out: https://register.apple.com/placesonmaps/
Doing this will do a lot of the initial work you’re going to need for your SEO game – you’re going to want to pick up as many citations as possible, within reason, for your local SEO game, too, so if there are any local business listings where you can list your company’s info, even if it’s a nominal fee, it’s worth it. YP.com is another good one: https://marketing.yellowpages.com/en/claim-your-listing?from=advertise-with-us-YP
Claim your business Yelp listing, it’s free, and make sure that you’re thanking the folks who take the time to leave you a review or that you’re taking any constructive criticism you receive there into account on how you might be able to improve your services. There’s always going to be one or two unreasonable critiques, though, nobody can win ’em all.
Make Sure You’re Presenting Appropriate Pages
Websites are so easy to make these days that it’s a little more difficult for a new site owner to consider that they need to think about the purpose each page serves & build that page based on that sole purpose.
Using a service business as our continuing example, service business websites usually tend to do better if they list their rates on their site, even if it’s only “rates start at $X” or something like that. People tend to be more receptive if they have an expected price range that they’re walking into, even if each customer is quoted a different price based on their needs.
If you have existing pages, it’s well worth the effort to audit them annually to ensure that the information on them is still accurate & it’s clear to your visitors what purpose that page has for their visit – what are they supposed to do on that page? Double check your existing content to ensure that you haven’t gone down the rabbit hole on any of it!
Direct Your Visitors
Another quick win is to use a call to action on each page, instructing your visitors which step to take next. A service business could place a static button on the page to “schedule a consult” to make it easy for potential customers to understand what’s expected of them to begin doing business. What the button does, specifically, is up to the website owner – it doesn’t need to be “schedule a consult” but it’s best to keep it simple. A website might highlight a “Contact Us” link on the page & keep it relaxed but still drive engagement. It’s best to have the link stand out from the other content on the page in a way that encourages action, whether this is strictly using a specific color or some other styling.
Quick SEO Wins
New website owners should start thinking about their social media presence from the beginning & set up the usual accounts for their type of business, since traffic to a website is one of the ranking factors used by search engines, social media is free & helps reach your target audience. If the new website is like 40% of the modern internet & is running on WordPress, the owner might use something like Blog2Social to syndicate their new content across their social media accounts with the click of a button on their website, making it easy to do a bit of link building & demonstrating expertise in their field. The free version of Blog2Social won’t allow this for every social media platform but it’s well worth the investment to get a Pro license to be able to broadcast your new, useful content at the best times across your social media in places like:
- Google My Business
This really is about working smarter, not harder!
Internal links are also a good quick win for new site owners. External links take time & effort to build but internal links give a clear signal to search engines which pages on a website are more important to the website. If all pages lead visitors, ultimately, to a single focus point on a website, such as a consultation form, it becomes pretty clear that the consultation page is one of the most important pages on that site, based on the internal link structure, and makes it likely that when someone searches for that website, that page will be one of the first that will show up in search results.
Building links has been denied by Google to be an actual ranking factor but there is so much anecdotal evidence that links are a ranking factor, still today, that it’s always something a website owner needs to be on the lookout for. Quality links, though, stay far, far away from buying links or those free backlink services, those are what your competitors want you to use. ☠️
Make sure, while you’re racking up your SEO quick wins, that you’re using relevant links, relevant keywords, and not keyword stuffing – manipulative content won’t get your website anywhere good, focus on creating content that’s useful to your audience.
Set Up Google Search Console & Google Analytics
Both of these tools are a free service & are mostly for viewing historical data, so don’t expect anything out of them right away. Google Search Console is how you can see what Google is serving up your content in search results, how it feels like your website is performing, and how you can request to have new or edited content indexed by Google.
Google Analytics will show you how your website visitors are reacting to your website content, where your visitors are coming from, and can be integrated in other tools like Google Ads, Google Search Console, etc., making things pretty handy.
Site Page Speeds Are Important
A website’s loading speed is a minor ranking factor but more than that, we all love it when a website that we’re browsing is lightning fast. Generally speaking, this is determined by your web host and, no daddy, every well known host is not a good choice. We typically recommend our own hosting for our web design clients, Liquid Web, or Siteground – any of these will see our clients with a great site speed & the hosting package is determined based on each web client’s needs. Remember – page speeds are also filed under “useful content” for websites.
Use Ads To Drive Traffic
Having a sale on your eCommerce site is great! Unless nobody knows about it. Paid ads are a great way for immediate traffic, vs the long game of SEO. There are a number of really good tutorials available to help new website owners learn how to advertise wherever they decide is best for their business model. Digital marketing is still the same, regardless of where the ads are run, it’s really all about immediate traffic results with qualified leads.
Set Up A Mailing List
This is a really key point that gets overlooked by many new website owners. Just like Google Analytics providing historical data, there’s no way to get a legitimate email marketing list right away. Usually your email subscribers will be your customers, which means that there’s already a business relationship in place. They’ve purchased from you & are far more likely to purchase from you again and they’ve said that they want to hear from you in their inbox. This is where a business should place the bulk of its efforts, serving the people on its email marketing list – it will really cut down on ad costs (hint, hint). Build it up over time, MailChimp & AWeber still have a free tier.
Most of All – Be Authentic
Your new website can be a lot of things but it really should be you, in digital form. If you think about working with the website & you feel like you have to be someone you’re not in order to do what the website’s supposed to do, that’s not a situation that most people can keep going for very long, so be as authentic as you can possibly be & enjoy what it is that you’re doing. Your readers will appreciate the genuineness, too!