Download supporting worksheets for the process.
Most people only have the vaguest idea of what they want from their website. Simply thinking carefully about what you want your website to do for your business can give you a big advantage.
You need to think carefully about what you want your visitors to do once they reach your website. Goals should be broken down to be as specific as possible. The aim is to have one page (or area) on your website to accomplish each specific goal.
For example the main goal for a new website may be to:
- Sell oranges
After some more thought you come up with some more specific goals:
- Sell Blood oranges
- Sell Navel oranges
- Sell Valencia oranges
- Educate clients in the differences between orange varieties
- Gather contacts of people looking to buy oranges wholesale
- Build a community of people that love oranges
- Provide customer support
The goals we discuss here are visitor focussed because we are trying to figure out how to get visitors from Google to your site. They are going to be making particular searches online and we are trying to establish how your site will show up for those searches.
You should also have goals for your website which are in terms of value to the business. For instance the overall website goal may to be make $5000 in sales in the first quarter. To make sure you are meeting this goal you need to know how much each visitor is worth to you. You figure this out by taking the total turnover added by the website, subtracting the website costs and dividing by the number of unique visitors. If this number is positive your website is a benefit to your business, if it is negative it is a drain.
If you are interested in applying this this kind of thinking to your website please get in touch.
Don’t worry about getting it perfect first time. Your goals can and should evolve as you get a better understanding of what your customers are looking for.
Add each of these goals to your worksheet.
Once you have developed your goals the next step is to put yourself in the mind of someone who is searching online related to that goal. Think about what someone would type into Google if they are looking to achieve each of your specific website goals.
The Google Keyword tool
To help you develop a list the Google keyword tool is essential. This tool brings traffic data and keyword suggestions based on the millions of searches that Google performs each day. You can find the tool online here: https://adwords.google.com.au/select/KeywordToolExternalhttps://adwords.google.com.au/o/KeywordTool
- First make sure Australia (or your relevant country) is selected. This can be found in the advanced options.
- Type in your initial ideas about keywords.
- Click Search.
Good local traffic numbers
You are looking for keywords which have decent local traffic. Optimising your site and getting #1 in Google for keywords that no one is looking for is not going to help you at all.
This number is going to be relative, there may only be a few hundred people searching for particular keywords per month. You might find that 350 people search for “Valencia oranges” while only 30 search for “Valencia orange”. You are going to prioritise “Valencia oranges” in this case.
If you find that your keywords have tens of thousands of searches you are in a competitive environment. The bad news is that this guide may not cover enough of the SEO techniques for you to be competitive. The good news is that if you succeed your reward will be bigger. See the further reading for some resources that you can learn some more advanced SEO.
With your list of keywords open in front of you open a new browser window and drop the more promising keywords into a Google search. You are trying to figure out two things:
- Confirm that people searching for that keyword are actually looking for what you sell. Recently we had a client who sold exhaust extraction systems to keep the air clean in auto-workshops. However everyone searching online for exhaust extraction was looking to hot up their cars, or looking for exhaust fans for kitchens.
- Which competitor websites keep popping up. Make a note of these sites on your worksheet for further study. Feed them back into the Google Keyword tool by typing their address in the website area of the tool (next to the word or phrase box). You should get some good keyword ideas from that as well.
You are looking for a list of around 5 keywords for each goal. There may even be less if there are not many high traffic terms. If you find there are too many keywords for each page you should try and break down your goal even further, and potentially add sub-pages.
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Why would someone buy from you rather than going down the road to your competitor? For the purposes of this guide I’m going to assume you have worked out your USP.
One hint for your USP… it’s not good customer service or quality products, those are expected from any business.
If you need help developing your USP please get in touch.
A good USP will help you think of keywords. For example you may be one of the only people who home deliver oranges. In that case “home delivery” may be among your keywords.
Make sure you include keywords for the particular region you are servicing. Include nearby suburbs and region, eg. “Melbourne West”.
Search Engines Search Text (mostly)
After your keyword research you should now have several pages of website goals with keyword research for each one. The next step is to use what you’ve discovered to generate text for your website.
How search engines work
Search engines work out what your site is about by “spidering” your website. Spidering is simply loading all of the text of your website into its index (database of pages) and following (“crawling”) any links it finds to find more text. The index is what search engines use to find answers to what people are searching for.
If you think about it this means you need to put your content into text on your website. Search engines are beginning to search pictures, videos and other content but simple text is still your best bet.
Using the keywords in the text will make sure Google understands who would be interested in your site. Often when people complain that Google is not ranking them for a particular search we find that their site doesn’t mention those keywords at all.
Landing pages - pages for searchers
For each website goal you identified earlier you are next going to create a page which is written for especially for someone who uses that search. These pages are called landing pages.
For example, one of your website goals might be to get the contact details of people looking to buy oranges wholesale. The landing page would include information about your wholesale orange program. You would include as many keywords you identified earlier as possible without making the text feel stilted and awkward. Remember whilst including keywords helps people find your site, the content still needs to read well and engage your visitors. The page may also include a contact form so that interested visitors could easily submit their details.
If you are improving an existing page go through your keyword list and make your keywords are included, replacing general words where possible. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and make the page impossible to read.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you are writing your landing pages.
Your content needs to be useful to your visitors
Remember that your site’s content is not simply about getting good search rankings. That only helps get the visitors to your website. The content also has to motivate your readers to spend time on your website and ultimately buy what you are selling. If your webpages end up as an unreadable mash of keywords linked with clumsy sentences you are not going to get anywhere.
Put yourself in the head of your potential customer. Ask yourself what your customers want to know? Think about the common questions your clients ask you every day.
Most websites talk about themselves excessively. If you must talk about yourself create a page like “About Us” and stick it all in there.
Make sure your content is original
Copying content from other sites is illegal and can penalise your search engine ranking. By all means get ideas from successful competitor websites but write the content yourself.
Once you’ve gone to all the trouble of creating your original content you might be worried someone else might steal it. You can use a tool like copyscape.com to catch them red handed!
Unique content is a huge advantage
No doubt as you looked over some of the competitor’s websites when you were doing your keyword research you would have noticed a certain “sameness”. Most websites tend to cover the same ground.
If you can offer something useful and unique on your site you can get a good competitive advantage. Whitepapers or special reports (like this one) which are immediately useful to your visitors not only give you a unique advantage but also demonstrate practically your expertise.
Up to date
Make sure that the website is up to date. Nothing looks worse than seeing a website that obviously hasn’t been touched in years. If you aren’t going to update your content very often, make sure it won’t date in an obvious way. Excluding dates and years in your content is a prime example.
Your web pages need to be accessible without password or payment. They will not be picked up by Google unless they are freely available.
Writing for the web
People tend to scan content quickly on the web until they find what they are looking for. Make sure you use as many headings, dot points and paragraphs as possible to make life easier for the “scanners”.
Breaking up your content in this way will also make your content less daunting to read onscreen.
Write a summary of your content at the beginning and then develop your points in greater depth further down the page. This way visitors can scan the page and decide quickly if they want to read further.
Make sure you keep the style as non-commercial as possible. You want to make sure the page is easy to understand as possible.
Facing the blank page can be frightening. If writing is not your thing consider getting a copywriter in. However remember that you know your business better than anyone. Make sure you have still done your research. This way your interview or notes to the copywriter will be as useful as possible.
If you are interested in a copywriter with a specialisation in writing for the web please get in touch.
Landing pages are not the only pages you are going to have on your site. As long as the content is useful to visitors the more content on your site is to your advantage. Make sure you include anything that you write in your business on your website if you think it is useful. It will make the time and effort you spent on it pay dividends.
Optimise NON-HTML documents
Unless there is a good reason all of the pages on your site should be HTML. You may want to keep forms for printing in PDF form. Otherwise stick to HTML.
If you send out regular email newsletters put an archive of those newsletters on your website somewhere. You never know how a potential prospect might find you.
Articles & Press Releases
Newspaper articles and press releases featuring your company can be included on the site. Scan the original article in and then retype the text as plain HTML for maximum benefit.
User generated content
If you can get customers to leave reviews or comments that can be a great way of adding content to your site. You’ll want to set up a process so you can check and approve comments before they are published.
Testimonials can be a powerful way to build trust. Don’t just confine them to a testimonials page but place them all over your website, especially next to your product or service the testimonial is for.
Testimonials are a great way to highlight how good you are without coming across as arrogant. After all it is someone else who is talking you up.
We’ve found that scanning in testimonial letters and then re-typing in the text along-side gives testimonials even more credibility. Inbound links