In building a website it is important to build a well design site that makes easy for people to visit, navigate and find the information that they are looking for. However, even an excellent constructed website is like a desert island if there are no visitors. No matter what you are trying to promote on the web; it could be a product, a brand, a blog or a vlog…you are looking for an audience that either buys into your brand/product or simply gets inspired from your blog or videos. While getting followers or people liking your pages on social media can be easily be done, driving people from media platforms or search engines and turning them into brand ambassadors or customers is a complete different matter! In short, how can you drive visitors to your site when you are just starting out?
First, we need to rank high in the search engine for specific keywords that best describe our site. It would be useless to rank high in the search engine when people are looking for “buying a car” if our website is about “how to take care of orchids”. Second, we need to make people land on the page that best describe their search request; for instance we could differentiate the page a potential visitor click on depending if they are looking for. If they are looking for places “where to buy an orchid” will click on a different page from people looking for tips on how “often you water an orchid”. Finally, once we attracted visitors, it is important to provide the best possible content and an easy navigation menu to encourage people to visit more pages and stay on site.
Now, there are few tricks that can be implemented to make the search engine chances of finding our site a little easier and therefore ranking higher on the search results. In this post I will focus on submitting the required information to webmaster tools and few tips on how better organize a website.
Submit a site map
A site map is a list of all the website pages that are accessible to users/visitors and crawlers. Crawlers are internet bot whose function is to browse the Internet to find out about new content in order to update their indexes and therefore provide better search results to users. Sitemaps show how the website is structured (typically in a hierarchical fashion) and the relationship among web pages. Generally, a webmaster submits a XML sitemap that users do not see but that lists to the search engine all the pages of their site, how they are organized and how often they are updated. These sitemaps can be generated for free from sites such as www.xml-sitemaps.com. The final document is then downloaded into the root folder of your website’s directory. Finally, the domain.com/sitemap.xml needs to be uploaded into webmaster tools (under Crawl sub-menu). Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask, all support sitemaps. Submitting a sitemap does not guarantee indexing or better ranking, but they definitely help keep your site under the search engine radar.
Submit a robot text file
In addition to a sitemap, as webmaster, I also submit a robot text file. As sitemaps, they can be easily generated for free using tools such as SEO Tools and located in the root folder of your site’s directory. A robot text file contains a list of allowed pages that canto be crawled by search engine crawls and spiders. In case there are pages that should not be accessed by search engine indexing bots, a robot text file can be generated and then added to webmaster tools. If all pages can be accessed by the search engines, the submission of a robot file can be ignored (however, as Google Web Tools keep reminding me that I needed to add one, I generated one).
Create a hierarchical website
The best websites offer an easy to navigate structure. If we were thinking of a website as a geometrical figure, we would think of a pyramid where the base is the homepage and you go up from main domains to single pages. According to the latest trend, every page should not be no more than 2 clicks away from each page. This is where navigation menus, sidebars and internal links come in handy to let users easily find the information they are looking for. In addition, sidebars and menus can also be used as “promotional tools” as they can display additional pages to visit and therefore retain visitors. However, as the user experience is key in ranking high, do not abuse the number of links, menus and sidebars (limit yourself to one main menu on top of the page, and a side-bar for extra information related to your page topic). In addition, do not exaggerate over the number of dynamic pages as Google prefers static pages.
Check multiple browsers and devices
Whatever your browser of choice, check few to make sure that your webpages are displayed correctly. By signing up to webmaster tools from different search engine, can help figure out pretty easily if there is a problem with our site as eventual errors are listed. In addition as more and more people access websites from mobiles and tablets it is of fundamental importance that our website is optimized for mobile users. A poor performance on mobile can affect massively the success of our marketing strategy. The best approach is to have a responsive website that delivers a different response depending on which device the page is access. Luckily for us, webmaster tools allow webmasters to check the performance of our site on mobile. In addition, even sites that allow users to download free templates for web design, already contain the required information for allowing websites to be displayed correctly on multiple devises and even browsers.
Check your site speed (on multiple devices)
Site loading speed is also an important feature to promote incoming traffic as a long loading time could either prevent users from accessing your pages or clicking the return button therefore increasing the bounce rate. In case your Analytics is telling you the the bounce rate is pretty high (>30%), you might also consider to verify if your site is loading fast enough using the Site Speed tool in the Behavior Menu of Google Analytics. As the Site Speed helps you check multiple browsers and devices, the slow loading time could be restricted to a specific search engine or mobile device; for instance if most of your visitors are browsing from Safari or Samsung tables, focus on optimizing the user experience for Safari and tablets. In addition by entering your website URL in PageSpeed Insights of Google Developers, you can get a full report on how your site performs in terms of speed and also suggestions on what can be done to improve the site performance both on laptop and mobiles. Finally, download an app extensions such as Alexa traffic Rank tool (Google Play) and add it to Google Chrome toolbar. Every time you visit a site, the app shows how long it takes for the website to load. By comparing it to other sites, Alexa marks the site as slow, average or fast.
Add a Blog and encourage comments
Whatever your business is, it could be a product, a services, or a digital tool to increment brand awareness add a blog immediately! Blogging is a perfect method to present your product/service in a fun and engaging way without looking spammy; for instance you could write a blog post describing the benefits of an healthy diet, if you are selling fresh smoothies. In this manner you can achieve two goals: first, you create content that people are happy to read and second you prepare the mindset of your audience for promoting a product that is indeed part of a healthy diet. Finally, by adding high quality images, videos, encouraging comments, replies and shares you create an engaging page for people to communicate with the brand, establish a connection and eventually turn them into loyal customers.