Having a website with good content is not a guarantee of success in the search engines, even if that is what people like Matt Cutts would like to have you believe. You need to ensure that your website is optimized for the perfect audience you are looking to attract, those people who are the most likely to turn into buyers.
To offer a suitable analogy, if you buy an entry-level sports car and expect to take it out to the track and immediately win a race, you are going to be disappointed. But if you modify the car and upgrade aspects of its performance until it is refined and customized to perfectly fit the specific track you are racing going to race on, then you’ll have a chance of competing.
But how how to optimize a website and turn it into that high-level sports car that is optimized for a specific track, when it is essentially like every other site out there?
While it’s true that all sites have the same components (at least initially) not every site is optimized for the perfect audience you are looking for and that is likely to turn into clients or buyers for you.
Optimization involves taking the elements of your site that you can control and ensuring that they are changed and adapted so that they don’t just bring in more traffic and leads for your company, but traffic and leads that will convert to sales. In this article we will cover some basics of on-site optimization.
This is what’s ‘under the hood’ when it comes to optimization. Working with the key elements of your site and its presentation online, you can create a site that actively pulls in the right type of visitors.
The goal is to update your site on a regular basis with content that is highly relevant, specific and interesting to your perfect target audience. The people that are most likely to buy your products or services. I will discuss target audience in another article, but essentially this group contains the people that you want to sell to.
You can update your site with relevant and interesting content in many ways, but here are some ideas to point you in the right direction. Committing to the following activities on a regular basis is a way of ensuring that you are actively optimizing your site.
Optimize your titles
Keep your webpage titles brief (preferably no more than 55-60 characters) and highly descriptive. They also need to incorporate the important keywords of the page, (the more specific the better), and it needs to be attractive for the users.
The most important keywords should be towards the beginning of the title,
Puppy Training – Ultimate Guide to a Well Behaved Puppy
Puppy Training | Ultimate Guide to a Well Behaved Puppy
Work hard to master Meta descriptions. The Meta descriptions no longer have any real relevancy in regards to the Google ranking algorithm. Keywords in your meta descriptions will not affect your rankings at all. However, they are still extremely important, but for another reason. The Meta Descriptions are what shows up in Google, right below the title of your website. They are what people read before deciding whether to click on your website in the search results, or someone else’s.
If you don’t use your Meta descriptions then Google will simply take a snippet of code from your site fairly randomly. This is usually a terrible idea as it’s often not text that will convince someone to visit your website over another.
Work hard to optimize your Meta descriptions, because they will have a large part in determining how many visitors you actually get from a particular keyword ranking.
There is another aspect to this also and that is user behavior. When Google see that users prefer your website over others in the search results for a particular keyword they will give your site a higher ranking for that keyword. So although the Meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on your rankings, they have an indirect effect and are very important.
Here is a screenshot with a poor meta description, where Google has just taken a random snipped of text from the site.
Here is a good example of proper use of meta description.
Here are a few other good meta descriptions I found if you really want to learn how to optimize a website.
Optimize your alt tags and image file names intelligently
Alt tags are the text alternative to images when a browser can't properly render them or when the user has images turned off, which is common on phones. Even when the browser has rendered the image when you hover over it with your mouse, you will be able see the alt tag text for that image.
The alt attribute has a lot of SEO value and image search is generally a lot easier to rank for, and can still bring good traffic to your site. Adding suitable alt tags to the images on your website can give your site a nice boost in traffic. Image optimization is especially important if you are running any form of ecommerce shop.
Let’s take this picture as an example (a picture of a puppy chewing a shoe):
You could use the generic name that your camera gave to the image such as dcmi2417.jpg. However, it is much better if you change the file name to something like: puppy-chewing-shoe.jpg
Here are a couple of ideas for alt tags that would work well for this image:
- Young puppy chewing a shoe.
- Baby king Charles spaniel chewing an old boot.
Creating relevant content
Think about your clients and the questions that they often ask you, and you will find that your content ideas never stop flowing. Every time you have a question from a client, that is a potential idea for an article, and the more relevant the article, the more likely a new client from your ideal customer base will find your site. Remember, relevance in content is vital.
At the same time, include keywords in your content that are not general, but rather as specific and relevant to your prospects as possible. The Internet is a saturated beast, and the more specific you are with your keywords the more likely you are to get some good rankings.
Use long tail keyword phrases like ‘train your puppy to stop biting shoes’ or ‘train your dog to stop barking’ because there will be less competition for these long-tail keywords and you can write content that is very specific to your client’s needs. The more specific you are the more likely you are to make a sale.
Using Google Analytics to see what works
One of the best analytics tools is Google Analytics, and it’s free. Google Analytics allows you to track visitor data for your site all the way from the entry point to where the visitor either leaves your site or converts into a client.
You will be able to see who has visited, where they came from geographically and online, (sometimes including the search phrase they used to find your site), and which pages they visited before leaving. You will also be able to track how long they stayed on the pages they visited.
Why is this important? It means you can use the data to adapt your optimization strategy, creating content that is popular with that all-important target audience, and most importantly that is likely to turn them into a client or sale.
If for example you see that those who found your articles on how to ‘stop your dog from barking’, are more likely to turn into sales or paying clients than those who found your content on ‘how to train you dog to do tricks’ you can focus on creating a guide or a series of blog posts on that topic.
On-site optimization on it's own will not be enough to get your website ranking for competitive keywords, but it's the first step towards getting your site get found by people who are perfect for your product or service.
It takes time to get right, but if you spend a little time every week on writing specific content that is optimized for your perfect target audience, you will soon see results. Tie it all up with intelligent analytics and off-site optimization and link building, (which we will cover in another article), and you will find that you will be able to compete with you very own track ready race car soon enough.