In the midst of the pandemic we have changed our habits, globally. Whether on hiatus, or permanently superseded, the days of strolling down the high-street and visiting shops to ‘shop around’ have been well and truly replaced by a quick Google search. The reality of this is that the old system of the brightest signs, placed in the right places to attract attention, is not as important as a strong presence on social media along with the ticking of the right boxes with your website, and subsequent achievement of a high Google rank for your page.
Websites, Witchcraft and Wizardry
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the process of ensuring that your site meets as many of the necessary criteria as possible, in order to rank as highly as it can. A higher rank means being closer to the top of the list for the search terms associated with your business.
Google is the big name, it’s the one that we here at YVTS will harp on about to a certain extent when we’re building a new site. With around 85% of online searches being carried out by this search engine, you need to know that your website is meeting Google’s criteria. To a large extent Google’s ranking algorithm can be thought of as a mystical force that no-one outside of Google fully understands, as they don’t share the details of how to be the best as that would not pave the way for fair competition.
A few key ‘ingredients’ for this mixture are:
• Keywords on your site – Think “What searches might people carry out to find a business like mine?” and ensue the relevant words are on there!
• Domain name – Your own domain means you can have professional looking email addresses, a website that doesn’t advertise someone else’s business (your-business.co.uk rather than your-business.wordpress.co.uk, for example) AND it counts as a keyword!
• Links to the site – I cannot stress this enough. Your site could be the gold standard of web design and have the ultimate UX (User eXperience) but if no one is looking at it, it’s not much use. A website needs to be linked to in ALL of your company’s marketing. The rank will increase as the number of people using your site does!
• Submission to business directories – At the very least you need a Google Business listing, your customers should know where you are and Google should be able to place you geographically so that when someone uses ‘near me’ at the end of their search, it knows that you are near them and offers your business in the results!
There are more, but I don’t want you to nod off!
It’s Not About You.
Interestingly enough, and somewhat surprisingly to many of you Apple disciples, Google is also iPhone’s default search engine, so it doesn’t matter whether you are true to Android or a loyal fan of iOS, Google is part of your life. This is all very interesting from an “I didn’t know my phone did that” standpoint, but it is extremely important from a “how will my customers be finding me?” perspective.
The reality is that even if you yourself are using an ancient phone with 9 buttons and no internet capability at all, it is irrelevant, you have to think about where and how your customers will access your online offering. More than half of the world reach for their phone first so you have to make sure your site is responsive (meaning that it will scale or rearrange to better fit the size of screen it is being asked to display on) and that it looks good and works well on a mobile phone. Desktop users account for a little under the other half, so having it look good there too is imperative. The last piece of the pie goes to tablet users but with less than 5% of the share and behaviour that is pretty much just ‘big phone’ they don’t really need to be worried about in the same way. Which browser is being used is also relevant as they will all handle the information in generally the same way, but just occasionally they’ll do something surprising (I’m looking at you Safari). This is why we check our sites on all common browsers before the customer sees it! Chrome currently has around 66% of the market share, where browsers are concerned. Safari is the next one down at around 17%. There are a few others, but these two are the ones that you need to cater for first and foremost.
Don’t Social Distance This Media
A Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter account are worth their weight in gold (or rather, as they don’t really weigh anything, they are worth my post lockdown weight in gold, which is not insignificant!). I do appreciate that it just seems like another thing to worry about in the world of business admin but it’s FREE so take advantage of it!
In my experience it is easier to get a Facebook page to be high in the Google Search ranking quickly than it is for the website itself, and the Facebook page will link to the website and help to build it up, win, win! Posting regularly on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram builds business visibility and allows you to communicate what your business is actually doing. Adding your website link in every post means more traffic to the site and a big stir to the magical SEO mixture, which leads to higher ranking in searches and more visibility to new customers! They do say a picture is worth 1000 words, it really is!
Customers are easily distracted
Your site’s search engine ranking is affected by how quickly it loads and shows your business to a visitor. Your site’s search engine ranking is affected by how quickly it loads and shows your business to a visitor. People are very impatient too – a site that shows the visitor a good experience in 10 seconds will often find the potential customer has wandered off – note how quickly online shop websites load (Amazon, for all their faults, have made an art form of selling people things.)
Careful design means the customer can be looking at a nice web page in less than a second on their screen even while the rest of the page is hurrying along behind the scenes.
So the long and short of it is, as you probably now realise, there’s loads you can do to be seen online and if you don’t want the hassle of arranging it yourself, we’d be happy to give you a quote!