Website Must Haves (part 1)

We all know how important a website is to a business’s online strategy. Almost every business, whether B2B, B2C, non-profit, local or global needs an online presence to reach buyers in the internet age.   A company’s website is its virtual storefront.

Shockingly, a recent survey by 1&1 Internet reported that up to 40% of small-to-medium sized businesses still don’t have a website. Even if you’re on social media, operating without a website is just silly. A website is an essential piece of your online marketing strategy. Whether you’re looking to build your first website, or if your existing site just isn’t getting the traffic or leads you were hoping for, you may wonder what it really takes to have a great website.

Having a website alone isn’t the key to great results. Instead, it’s the ability turn your website into an inbound marketing machine. Your website has a hefty goal and it needs to wear many hats. A website needs to not just exist, it needs to perform. It needs to attract visitors, educate them and convince them to buy. But I know what you’re thinking – easier said than done.

Part 1: Get Found Online
A great website isn’t so great if no one visits it. This is why the first chapter is dedicated to getting found online, which covers the very top of the funnel of your inbound marketing strategy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an absolute must-have to any website strategy, but it takes hard work and consistency when aiming for the top spot. These tips will help get you on your way to increasing your organic (non-paid) search engine rankings.

Building Inbound Links

Every website on the internet has the goal of reaching the #1 position in search engines but because there is only one top spot per keyword phrase, not everyone can make it. So what gets a first place ranking? Off-page search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important factor to increasing your ranking results.
Off-Page SEO is about building inbound links, essentially getting other quality websites to link back to you. Search engines call this authority or “link juice.” The more inbound links you have, the more important your site must be, thus the higher you’ll rank.

Link building, when done right, isn’t easy since adding links to other websites is sometimes out of your control. Here are some tips to building inbound links:

• Create high-quality, educational or entertaining content. If people like your content, they will naturally want to link to it.
• Submit your website to online directories (check out this list here). This is an easy way to start.
• Write guest posts for other blogs. This is a win-win for both parties. People will want extra (quality) content from others and in exchange, it’s a great way to build inbound links.
• Researching link building opportunities with other websites, but always check the authority of the websites that you are trying to get links from. There are many tools online that allow you to check domain or page authority, including HubSpot’s link grader tool.
• And don’t borrow, beg, barter, bribe or buy links.


Website Must Haves (part 2)

On-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

While off-page SEO is hugely important, we can’t forget about on-page SEO. This consists of placing your most important keywords within the content elements of your actual pages. These on-page elements include Headlines, Sub-headlines, Body Content, Image Tags, and Links. Often times on-page SEO is referred to as
“keyword density.”

It’s very common that businesses will do too little on-page optimization or too much (keyword stuffing). While it’s important to include your keyword as many times as necessary within a page, you don’t want to go overboard with it either.  For on-page SEO done right:

Pick a primary keyword for each page and focus on optimizing that page for that word. If you oversaturate a page with too many keywords on one page, the page will lose its importance and authority because search engines won’t have a clear idea of what the page is about. This is very common on homepages in particular, where too many keywords are used.

• Place your primary keywords in your headline and sub-headline. These areas of content have greater weight to search engines.
• Include the keywords in the body content but don’t use them out of context. Make sure they are relevant with the rest of your content.
• Include keywords in the file name of images (e.g. mykeyword.jpg) or use them in the ALT tag.
• Include the keywords in the page URL and keep the URL clean.
• And lastly, write for humans first, search engines second. Always prepare your content for your audience and then look to optimize it for search. Content written in the other order won’t read naturally and your visitors will recognize it.

Title Tag & Meta Tags
While this may be the least sexiest component of SEO, it is a definite must-have. A Meta Tag is a line of code that is contained in the background of a web page. Search engines look at meta tags to learn more about what the page is about.
Meta tags don’t quite have the level of SEO importance as they used to but are still very important. Back in the day, websites abused meta tags to increase their rankings by including far too many keywords. Now search engines are smarter and give more weight to inbound links and page content for ranking instead. However, they still play an important role to an SEO strategy. Make sure to use these on all of your pages.

If you’re not a web guru, most website editors and content management systems enable you to easily edit meta tags without coding knowledge. If you don’t have an editor, you can simply open a web page file (ending in .htm, .html, .asp or .php) in Notepad or a plain text editor and the meta tags will be found near the top of the document.