Every day here at Seven Creative, people show us their sites that were built by other companies and ask us things like “why doesn’t my website appear in Google” or “Why do I hardly ever get any calls from my website” so we thought we should produce a quick check-list to help you evaluate your website and hopefully spot the areas stopping your website from indexing properly in search engines and hindering the site’s conversion rates.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; however, these are some of the most common problems. Don’t forget to let us know if you think we’ve missed something important!
1 – Contact details
There is a good chance that a lot of the visitors to your website are simply looking for your contact details. Other visitors are there evaluating you deciding if your the right one to ‘buy’ from. Your contact details, therefore, need to be available at the moment the site visitor makes the decision that they want to get in touch. Making it tough to find your contact details, hiding them or even requiring the website visitor to ‘click’ to find them can irritate and annoy – and this is the last thing you want when your competitors are only a ‘back click’ away!
Make your contact details prominent throughout the site. This will not only allow a potential customer to get in touch with you easily and quickly, it will also show potential customers that you have clear communication channels which will help to quickly establish trust – which is vital!
2 – What do you do?
I’m amazed. I’m staggered! The amount of sites I visit every day and I sit there thinking ‘what do you actually do?’ Every time we approach a new project we reverse engineer it from the point-of-view of the potential customer. By firstly profiling the customers you are able to build in a flow toward the website goals, avoid jargon which confuses people, and massively increase usability which means you’re much likely to end up with a website that actually works (provided your developer know what they are doing, of course!)
It’s really not rocket science – just say what you do and make it prominent. People love useful snippets but get turned off by big paragraphs. Get the important stuff ready-summarised and you’ll be amazed about how much of a better on-site experience your potential customers will have!
3 – Keywords and phrases
Before you built your site, did you check what people were actually searching for in relation to your products and services? It’s staggering how many people don’t! What is the point in having an all-singing-all-dancing website if no one can ever find it because it doesn’t match the phrases they’re using to find your products and services!
It’s very simple; find out what your potential customers are searching for and then make sure those phrases appear in your website (of course, in a natural context) on the relevant pages. Websites that don’t work don’t do this. It’s a simple as that.
4 – Social media
If your company is popular, they’re talking about it on the Social Media channels. If it’s not, they’ll be very little mention of you on these channels and Google knows this full well. Also, you need to demonstrate to your potential customers that you’re available with open and clear communication channels were anything to go wrong.
Not engaging with your potential customers on the appropriate social media channels is missing an opportunity to raise your profile, find new customers and without these ‘social media bookmarks’, Google will evaluate your website to reflect this and therefore your search engine position may not be as good as it could be.
5 – Images
It’s amazing how few people understand how much of an impact optimised images can have on your site. Properly optimising the compression and getting the aspect ratio correct means they’ll display quickly, the alternative text will be indexed by Google and the image name is an opportunity to get your image in an image search for the relevant products and services.
Also, I’m staggered by how many people put their really important text content as an image! Google can’t read this and you’ll find it very difficult to update if details change!
Optimising your images provides so many benefits it’s something you really need to focus on right from the word go.
6 – Content optimisation
Once you’ve got your keyword and competitor analysis report, you’ll be able to create well written text that also includes a natural density of your keywords. Stuffing keywords is not only amateurish, you’re website will be penalised by Google and you’ll not appear properly in the search results.
They key is and always has been to create good quality website content with a natural density of your keywords and phrases. Of course, there are ways to increase the emphasis on the really important content; however, trying to fool the Google algorithm is at best a very risky thing to do.
Focus on the correct word count and the keywords and you’re half way there!
7 – Compliant and well formatted code
The code is something you’ve probably never a thought to. If your website looks OK, the code is OK, right? Wrong! Errors in the code are not generally visible to the average website visitor, however, if Google encounters a poorly coded website, there is a good chance you’ll be penalised.
Broken links, validation errors, properly hierarchical use of HTML, etc. will not only mean your site will display more quickly but also that Google will be able to correctly assess your key words and phrases and you’ll therefore appear in the relevant searches.
Poorly written code – and you’d be amazed how ubiquitous it is – will mean your site will not index properly. This is not difficult to fix – although it’s better to get it right in the first place – it’s just, in my opinion, the sign that the web developer is either lazy or doesn’t know what he’s doing.
8 – Counter-intuitive navigation structure
There is very little as frustrating as trying to navigate your way around a site with a poor navigational structure. We encounter these every day and it’s something that will certainly be losing you customers! What does it say about your company if your site is confusing and it’s sometimes impossible to find the page you’re after?
When building a site, the site navigational structure needs to be designed with scalability and usability in mind. It needs to be simple and easy to use otherwise your site visitors will simply hit ‘back’ and click on the next link in Google. Usability testing is something that can highlight this; however, it’s a much better (and cheaper) idea to get this right from the start.
9 – External links
In SEO circles we call it ‘juice.’ Imagine your site is a half-full glass of juice. Every time you get a link to your site it adds a little juice to the glass. Every link that leads away from your site takes a little juice away. The more relevant and more important the site that links to yours, the more juice you get. The fewer out-bound links you have, the less juice you’re giving away. Now imagine that Google evaluates your site based on how much juice is in that glass and you have a picture of how Google uses links to help assess the importance of your site – the more juice you have, the more important the site is. The less juice you have, the less important the site is.
Be very aware that outbound links are taking away ‘juice’ from your site. Are they really that important? Could you do without these links?
10 – Domain name
One of the main criteria Google uses to assess your website is your domain name. The current domain registration term and the keywords within the website are two things that allow Google to decide whether your website is relative for a search and whereabouts in the search results it should be.
When you’re picking your domain name, make sure you’ve done your keyword and competitor research first. Your current customers may be searching for your company name but your potential customers are searching for your services. Remember, if your website has been built properly, it’ll index for your company name regardless of the domain name. Google also loves an established domain with a long registration period so why not have your domain registered for 10 years?
If you’d like any advice on picking a domain or need any other domain services such as registrant change, moving domains, re-establishing domain ownership or registering your domain, give us a call.
11 – Bonus mistake – Poor quality SEO
How could we possibly have a list about mistakes you may be making from an SEO point of view. The new Google algorithm updates mean that many people who have been paying for SEO over recent years have suddenly plummeted out of the rankings. Why? Because Google isn’t stupid. It knows that many people have been trying to manipulate their rankings by building hundreds of links from external sites whilst putting very little emphasis on good quality content – and now they’re paying the price.
‘Cheap SEO’ isn’t synonymous with ‘poor SEO’; however, they are very often the same thing. Good quality SEO does and always has had an emphasis on high quality content.
More information? Get in touch with us
Seven Creative in Sheffield provide the full spectrum of web marketing services such as SEO, social media optimisation, web site development and usability testing.