How do I get more people to visit my new website?
This is a question I have been asked on a number of occasions recently and is the main concern of most new website owners.
There are a lot of different things which affect the number of people that find your website. These include marketing, content creation, publishing schedule, social media and website construction to name a few.
As a web developer it’s my job to construct websites which are easy to find and share. In the past 6 years of doing this I have been learning as much as I can about the subject so I can build websites that will help my clients projects succeed.
I thought it would be a good idea to share what I know in a simple guide for new website owners. It turns out there was a lot to cover so I have split the guide into this 3 part series.
The 3 strategies covered are an overview of the most important areas to learn about and include some of the first and easiest actions you can take to help your new website reach more readers.
It is important to note that unless you have a huge marketing campaign behind you it can take a long time for your website to become known to the world. At the beginning you will only have a few visitors but as more and more websites and people become aware of your website you will see your numbers rise over time.
Strategy 1: Make your website easy to find in a Google search
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of setting up your website’s content and structure so that search engines such as Google will be able to:
- Scan your website easily
- Understand the subject and theme of the website and each of it’s pages and index it against phrases that people are searching for
- Display a link to your website when people search for topics covered by your website
The goal of SEO is to help people who have never heard of your website to discover it for the first time.
One great thing about SEO is that because Google ranks websites order of how relevant they are to the search is that visitors that find you in this way are very likely to be looking for what you have to offer and there is a high chance they may become a regular visitor or customer.
Another advantage of applying SEO to your website is that the work is all done on your website and is 100% under your control. You do not need make use of any external websites or services to make your website Google and visitor friendly.
3 Simple Actions To Make Your Website Search Engine Friendly:
Use plenty of quality original writing on every page of your website that you can.
Google only understands words so pictures, slideshows or flash components – even those containing words – will not help your website be discovered in a search. Google’s guidelines recommend 100 or so words of original text content (i.e. not copied from another website) including images, paragraphs and lists where it makes sense.
SEO for photography websites or websites where posts are primarily images or other forms of media can be more difficult as you will want to balance the visual aesthetic of the page against the search engine friendly content.
The approach taken on MacPherson Landscape Photography is to tell the story behind the photograph and provide useful information about the location directly below each image.
Another approach would be to have a hidden information section which is displayed after the visitor clicks on an icon. This keep the focus on the main image whilst also informing the search engines what the page is about.
In a bid to cut down spam websites, recent updates to Google’s search programs penalize what it calls “low quality” websites with only one or two pages of little or no text as they are most likely to be spam. The more pages of quality text content you have the better, and text on your our home page, contact page and about page does help.
Make sure each page of your website has a friendly URL (web address)
This should which matches the title of your page. When the same phrase is used in the title of a web page and its address and the phrase matches one typed in by somebody searching on Google, there is a strong possibility that the page is relevant to the person searching and that Google will display it high up in the search results.
If you use WordPress you can set this up easily by logging in to your dashboard and then going to Settings > Permalinks and then selecting the “Post Name” (see picture) option to set up web addresses that are easily readable by google and your visitors.
Use HTML to correctly describe your website’s content.
The HTML code that makes up your website and contains your content has a section called head which is invisible to your visitors but provides Google, Facebook and any other search or social tools that scan your website with important information that determines where and how your website link appears in search results and on social media pages.
This is especially important if you have photography or other image based website where a post or page contains very little text other than the image.
If the meta tags are missing Google does a good job of guessing what text it should index and show in it’s search results and generally takes the first paragraphs. However if you have no paragraphs your web page will have either no summary or will show irrelevant text such as form labels or menu items. This not only makes your pages hard to find but also looks bad to the visitor when your webpage does appear in the search results.
WordPress users can easily fix this by installing a plugin such as WordPress SEO by Yoast or Add Meta Tags This will create the tags for you if possible, or if you have an image based website it will add an extra box to your post and page edit view and allow you to type in an accurate description yourself.
You can find a great description of how meta tags work in the WordPress codex: http://codex.wordpress.org/Meta_Tags_in_WordPress.
The tips above are the basics of SEO that anybody can set up on their website. You may wish to research the topic further if your needs are more specific.
Strategy 2 – Make your website easy to discover and share on social media – will be published next week on the Creative Transmissions blog.
If you would any help setting up your website to be search engine friendly then feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch via the contact page.