Your website is looking old and out-of-date so you hire a web design firm. When they are done it looks great. The graphics really pop and your website is visually stunning. So you happily pay them their website design fee and move on to other projects.
The problem is that Google does not care about your wonderful graphics or that fancy font your website developer used. What they care about is the nuts and bolts of your site: what the site is about, does it load fast, and do people spend time on it or do they immediately leave after opening your homepage. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a long and sometimes arduous process and so we are not going to cover that here. If you do want to take on a full-blown SEO project on your website we recommend that you checkout MOZ’s guide to SEO. What we are going to cover in this article is whether or not your website is properly designed to do well in search results. Most website designers are concerned with putting together visually pleasing and easily navigable sites. They are not concerned about the SEO elements that are so important. Recently we conducted a SEO Analysis for a business that was concerned that they were not getting more website visits. We quickly found out that the homepage of the organization’s website did not appear in any search results due to a setting that had been established by the website designer.
The purpose of this blog is to show you some simple steps to make sure your website does not have any major flaws that will keep new customers from finding you in search results. You do not need any advanced technical skills and most of the corrections that will be needed to be made should be done by the website developer.
The first step is to identify that your website has the elements that Google is looking for. These include: Title, Meta Descriptions, H1, noindex.
Luckily there is an easy way to check for all of these important elements:
1. Go to your homepage or a particular page that you want to check.
2. Right click and scroll down to view page source and click on it.
3. Don’t panic. You are going to see a lot of code that will make no sense to you. That is okay. See photo below.
4. Hold down the ctrl button and press “f”. This will bring up the search function.
5. You are now ready to search the code for the different elements. Simple type the following words in the search box.
Title- Title is what shows up in the search results. It not only signals Google what is on the page, it is important to have a phrase that will encourage people to click on your site in their search results. You are looking for: <title>Chicago Social Media Marketers - Social Media plans for Chicago businesses</title>
Description- This is the description of your page that will appear in search results below the title. It is not important to SEO but it is an important way to get people to click on your site. Look for: <meta name='description' content='Chicago Social Media Marketers offers inexpensive and effective social media plans for small businesses and not-for-profits.' />
H1- The H stands for Headline. This is what Google considers the most important headline on your page. Look for: <h1> Affordable social media plans for Chicago businesses </h1>
Noindex. This is the one you do not want to find. It tells search engines like Google and Bing to not include your page in search results.
While you want all of these elements on your page, except noindex, you also want to make sure they contain the keywords that are important to your page.
Check your site speed. Google has a page speed analyzer that they generously let you use for free. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/. Research shows that the slower your page loads the more likely that people will leave it before even looking at it. Google will also penalize you for having a slow site. Do not be too concerned unless it gives your website a “poor” rating.
Type site:”yoursite” into Google search. This will show all of the pages on your site that Google has indexed. Make sure all of your pages are being indexed.
Doing all of these steps will not guarantee you will be at the top of search results but missing any of these important elements will all but guarantee your site will not appear on the first page of search results.