Through my freelance work, I work mostly with small and medium-sized businesses. I love helping SMBs bring their ideas to fruition by helping them with their digital marketing. So if you own a business or are contemplating starting one, and you are excited about it except for the whole website/marketing/advertising part, read on. Small business owners need to do a few key things in order to get set up for success with their websites.
1) Have a secure website.
Make sure your website is set up so that it is secure and not vulnerable to hacks. For content management system (CMS) users, this often means keeping your software up to date. It’s possible to set up automatic database backups and updates for most content management systems. This is important because many sites get hacked and if you don’t have a backup, then you’ll have to start all over again from scratch.
2) Make sure your website is not blocking robots.
“Robots” are the automated software programs that search engines use to crawl websites across the Internet. If you want people to find your website when they search in Google, then robots are the good guys and you don’t want to accidentally block them from accessing your site. Go to yourdomain.com/robots.txt and if you see Disallow: / on that page, that means robots such as Google’s “Googlebot” are blocked from your site. In most cases you don’t want to block anything. If you accidentally block important pages like your home pages, then those pages won’t rank in search engine results. You’ll essentially “disappear” from Google.
3) Set up Google Search Console.
You need to set up a Google Search Console account (free) https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. This allows you to submit a sitemap to Google. There are free tools such as the SEO for WordPress plugin that will create sitemaps automatically for you. Check Google Webmaster Tools at least monthly, if not weekly, to make sure there aren’t any problems with your site. This is the best way to find out if Google has encountered any problems with your site.
4) Keyword optimization.
Next you need to identify important keywords that your potential customers may be using to find your website. Come up with a list of these keywords, and then go through your website and make sure there are webpages that include these keywords or similar keywords. Focus on the body content, the title tags, and the meta descriptions. You also want to look at H1 headings and image alt tags. Don’t keyword stuff! Just make sure you are using relevant, descriptive words. Don’t use “Home” on your home page title tag for example. Use “Your Product / Service – Your Brand Name.”
5) Consolidate duplicate pages.
If there are multiple pages that are very similar or duplicates, you want to consolidate those pages. About once a month or so, take a look at all your content and look for any old content and/or duplicates that should be updated. This is important because you don’t want your site to have a lot of unimportant, “weak” pages; instead you want quality over quantity.
6) Don’t have any broken links!
If you change URLs, don’t just let those old URLs remain… redirect them! That means adding a 301 redirect rule from the old page that points to a new page. Some CMS have redirect plugins to make this easy. In other cases you need to use an htaccess file to create URL rewrite rules. This is important because otherwise you can end up with a lot of broken links on your site.
7) Use analytics to check your site stats.
Monitor your site’s performance using Google Analytics (free). You should check this at least weekly. Analytics allows you to see the statistics on your site, such as how many people visited, what pages they looked at, what products they purchased, etc. This can be extremely valuable information that can help you learn what works well on your site! Read also: How to add an Annotation in Google Analytics.
These are just a few tips to give you a solid base towards digital marketing success. There are many more – sign up to get more updates from my blog. Or check out this related blog post on 8 Free & Cheap Online Tools that Small Business Owners Need to Succeed.