Website Optimization for Small Business

Google Search on LaptopTwo weeks ago we looked at the importance of a website for a small business. Last week we talked about why a Facebook Business Page isn’t a substitute for an actual website. This week we are going to take a brief look at how to optimize your small business website to yield a better user experience.

Today we are going to avoid diving too deep. Instead we will focus on a handful of website optimization tips that are best practice to serve your customers with a good user experience. Not only do you need a small business website, you also need to make sure it performs well to gain full benefit from the website.

Quality Content

People will keep coming back to your website if you continually add new and informative content. Show the value you provide to potential customers by demonstrating your expertise through a series of blog posts.

For example, say you run a landscaping business. You have your website well in hand, with your message of why you are different than your competitors clearly communicated. You have your services listed and you have a photo gallery showing some of your work. You’ve made it easy for your potential customers to get in touch with you.

Continuing with this example, if we create a blog we provide a platform for you to create quality content. You can cover topics specific to the area or even specific to regions within the local city. These topics provide useful information for your customer and can even serve as things they should do between visits by your crew.

In addition to these posts providing value to your local customer, they also offer quality content to improve your rank with search engines.

Digital Web MobileMobile Friendly

More and more people use their mobile device to search or browse the Internet. As this device usage shifts from desktop and laptop computers, your website needs to be responsive and usable from a mobile device.

Ensuring your website works well on mobile makes it easier for your customer to learn about your services. Always minimize any hurdles that might keep your customer from utilizing the information you have on your site. If your website is not mobile friendly, not only are you making it difficult on your customer, but you are hurting your search engine results as well.

The major search engines look more favorably upon websites that are mobile friendly. They realize more people are utilizing mobile devices and have adjusted their algorithms to reflect that.

If you website is not mobile friendly it is time to resolve that.

Page Load Speed

People are impatient. We expect content quickly. Depending on the study, you have have between 7 seconds and 10 seconds to capture the attention of someone visiting your website.

This means you want your website to load quickly for people visiting it. For each second it takes to load, that’s a second you are losing from a potential customer’s attention span.

There are several ways to influence page load speed for your site. Websites need images to catch attention, but those images need to be optimized for the web to reduce page load times. There are several tools to help you with this, by further compressing an image or making sure the resolution of the image is acceptable for the web while keeping the file size small.

It is important to keep the website code efficient. No unnecessary calls or loops that might slow things down. Using a modern content management system with a performance optimized theme can help with this. Site loading speed tools can help determine what is causing a delay and indicate potential issues.

Improving page load speed helps your customer – they get their information faster and you get more of that 7 to 10 seconds to capture their attention. Page load speed also factors into improving your search engine results. Search engines favor websites that load fast.

URL Format

We start to get into more technical considerations now. How the URLs are formatted on your website can either improve the friendliness of your website for your customer (and in turn, search engine results).

You want URLs that are friendly to read as they are easier to remember. They also do better when being indexed by a search engine (i.e. making it easier for your customer to find you).

Here’s an example. Continuing our landscape company example, say you have a blog post called ‘How to Make Your Grass Green’. Some websites will use a link like this to access that page:

See the part after the .com portion of the URL? Ugly, right? And not easy to remember. Something like this looks better, and is more relevant to a search engine crawling your website:

Friendlier to read and optimized more efficiently for a search engine to accurately index your website page.

These are small things, but can give you that digital edge over your competition.

HTML CodeMeta Tags

Continuing with our more technical look at a page on a website – meta tags. Meta tags are pieces of information that live underneath the pretty looking web page. They are part of the code and behind the scenes, pieces of information that help search engines know what they are looking at.

We could write volumes on different meta tags, their importance, how they are factored into search engine rankings and more, but we want to look at two of them. The title tag and the description tag.

The title tag can be used to control what shows up in the browser window title or tab. This can help the search engine easily tell what the page is about. You can stick with the defaults for your content management system or you can tweak this title tag to refine the information.

The description tag can be used to help keep the search engine from guessing what to provide as the search result summary. If you leave a description tag blank, a search engine such as Google will make a best guess for the summary of the page in search results. Google will pull content from the web page itself to do this. Sometimes this works out fine – but other times, defining that description tag provides you with an opportunity to draw people in.

These are two tags that can be used as tools to improve your search engine results or leveraged to get people to click on your result on a search engine page. You can gain an edge over your competition if you use these tags correctly and consistently.

Wrap Up

This article is a brief look at factors that go into making your website more highly optimized. A better optimized page serves your customer better and influences your ranking in the results returned by a search engine.

Again, continuing our landscaping example – there are likely several landscaping companies in your town. If you use the information in this article, you can find your website easier to use for your customers and returning higher in the search results. This extra effort generates more potential revenue for you and your business in the long run over your competition.