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Tips: Beginners Guide on How to Crush the Competition with a Great Website

Small or Medium Sized Business Strategies to Boost Your Website’s Search Engine Performance

Below you’ll find several tips. Many of them (as a business owner) you can do yourself. If you’re a tech savvy business owner comfortable with hosting, editing files and such, you can likely take care of all of them yourself. Some, you may have to hire a webmaster to complete, and depending on the value you place on your time, you may want to hire someone good to complete all these steps. The right person will give you a fair deal assuming your site is coded well and easy to work with. If you have a WordPress website, this guide will be easier for you to handle on your own. If you don’t have WordPress, these steps may be a little more difficult. If you’re on Wix or Weebly or another Free website builder, I’d recommend ditching it, but that’s just me. We recently switched a Wix website to WordPress and ranked it from #6 to #1 in little over 4 days, just because of the software abilities of WordPress.

Remember, this is a beginner’s guide to seo, so some of these things you may already have done, which is great. We will put together a more advanced guide shortly and since you signed up to receive this, you will receive that as well.

One thing for sure, these steps will put your website and business in a better position, guaranteed and they are a gift from us to you. We love sharing information and if you ever want more tips, reach out to our friendly staff, we welcome the opportunity to serve you. Finally, you’ll see a lot of different recommendations online. We read all the articles and do our own research and come up with our own recommendations and processes. All articles you find online are recommendations, opinions and SEO Tips, go with the median and be on the safe side. But most of the stuff you see ranking in the top #7 should be solid information you can rely on.

Page Titles, H1 tag & Meta Descriptions – Ensure They’re All Unique

*These are probably the most difficult things on the list

In some cases, website designers and developers don’t know much about SEO. Please note that I said “some” because there are website designers and developers that do know SEO basics and advanced SEO, and can properly optimize your site. If your website designer or developer does not know about SEO, or didn’t take the time to properly optimize your site it’s likely that your page titles, h1 tags and meta descriptions are not helping you out. Here’s how to check, and yes you need to check each page. If you have a website that’s more than 15 – 20 + pages, it may be beneficial to do #9 First, wait until Google crawls your site, and then it will tell you what’s duplicated making things easier. The only reason I recommend you do some on your own is so that you get familiar with the process and understand what is going on. By the way, Page Titles and H1 tags are valued a lot by search engines, so they need to be great, and Meta Descriptions tell users what your page is about and if you can get them to click thru to your page (increase your CTR) this can help your rankings*.

*If they click thru to your page and bounce (or leave) then that doesn’t help so make sure your content is great. User first content.

Discovering Where You Stand Now with Page Titles, Meta Descriptions & H1 Tags

To see what you have on each page currently, you need to visit each page. Yes, each page 1 by 1 and be prepared to take notes. On each page, unless you’re going to complete the page changes right then, if that’s the case, just take note what you did and the date you did it and the page you changed.

In all major browsers except Safari, you can visit the page and click CTRL + U. This will open a new window and allow you to view at least some of the code that renders the page.

If you are using Safari, you need to click CTRL + ALT + U. This will open a new window and allow you to view at least some of the code that renders the page.

So, for this simple step, we are checking to ensure we are not using the same Page Titles, H1 tags and Meta Descriptions for each page.

We need to find these three elements on each page. To do this, after you are looking at the code in the new window, type: CTRL + F using your keyboard.

Tool You Will Want: Character Count Tool for your Meta Descriptions & Page Titles

(you quickly realize why that tool is important as you read further through this guide)

 

Finding the Page Title
(Remember when on the page click CTRL + U in most browsers and CTRL + ALT + U in Safari)
Finding the Page Title

To find the page title, typein the search box.

The Page title will be the words used between&

Example:Free Guide SEO to Boost Your Site | Phoenix Online Media 

*Only change the words between theandtags, and if you are doing it as you go, save after every change. 

Page Title Tip: Moz’s 2016 Edition of Title Length Recommends 60  Characters, Most Experts are comfortable in the 50 – 57/60 range and it’s good to end the title with your brand name if possible. Read that article, there is a lot of good information in it – it’s Moz’s style.

Advanced Page Title Tip: Hire someone, or if your able, or know what you customers are searching for all ready, these keywords should be in your Page Title Tags. On the home page, we recommend something general that covers all of your services or “themes” your website like “Internet Marketing” or “Computer Repair” or “Power Washing. And because local optimization is amazing for small businesses and can literally double your business (we hear it daily), you’ll want to put the name of your business in the title tag.

Example: Mesa Computer Repair Services | XYZ Computer Repair

The words closest to the left, get the most “power,” but it’s not life changing power. We have tips below to help with better local optimization.

Finding the Meta Description

(Remember when on the page click CTRL + U in most browsers and CTRL + ALT + U in Safari)

To find the Meta Description, type

The Meta Description will be the words used between

Example:“description” content=”(480) 539-2900 – This free guide outlines a few quick tips to better optimize your website and improve the chances you make more money online. Got Questions? Call us” /> 

*Only change the words between the quotes after content=”Change the words here” />

Meta Description Tip: This is one that tends to vary the most, because in theory, you can have as many word characters as you want, that said search engines truncate words that go over their max, and that may mean your most important Call to Action (CTA) or message won’t be seen. At Phoenix Online Media we recommend staying at 165 characters or below. That said, there are agencies that recommend Meta Descriptions of 170 characters. They are not wrong, I’ve seen Google show 170 characters, but to be safe and always ensure you show everything, we recommend 165. Here’s a great article by Yoast about Meta Descriptions – read it take notes and enjoy

Advanced Meta Description Tip: As mentioned earlier increasing your CTR from search engines to your website will help your rank. It’s been proven by many. Here are a few things every Meta Description needs: Your keywords, a Call to Action (CTA), a Compelling Reason to Read Your Article, Be Persuasive, make sure your fulfilling the Meta Descriptions promise with the content after they click thru, and write in in a manner that gets them to want to act. We also like putting the company phone number at the very beginning, but that does take up space and make writing Meta Descriptions more difficult.

Finding the H1 Tags

(Some designers don’t use them, so don’t be surprised if you don’t find them, if you don’t, get them to make whatever they wanted to be your main headline and H1 Tag quickly.)

(Remember when on the page click CTRL + U in most browsers and CTRL + ALT + U in Safari)

To find the H1 tag, type <h1> in the search box.
Only change the words between the <h1>&</h1> tags.

Example:

<h1>Affordable Wisdom Tooth Extraction | Houston, TX</h1>

As mentioned earlier, H1 tags can be very powerful elements on a web page, so they must be present. There’s no rule to length, but they are usually the largest text on the page, so keep them short if possible. Generally, we like to use something like the Page Title, but not the exact same thing as the page title – a slight variation.

Example:

Page Title: Wisdom Teeth Extractions in McKinney, TX | XYZ Dental H1 Tag: Affordable McKinney Wisdom Tooth Extractions

(Regarding keywords just got wisdom teeth extractions, the city twice, brand name and we got affordable, which Search Engines will also associate with cheap and inexpensive plus hundreds of variations!)

*Surprisingly enough some web designers and developers don’t even use H1 tags, so don’t be shocked if you don’t find one on your page. Just contact us, or your webmaster and ask that they are incorporated into your page.

Optimized Images & Alt Tags

(Some designers don’t use images on every page and they should, but more common is that they don’t optimize and add an Alt tag. Again, some not all there are very good web designers and web developers.

(Remember when on the page click CTRL + U in most browsers and CTRL + ALT + U in Safari)

To find the Alt Tag, type alt= In the search box.

If it’s blank, then we need to look at the image and describe the image. Luckily most images relate to a page, so we can usually get a keyword in the Alt tag, but don’t be spammy.

Example: Fresh Pizza Coming Out of the Oven (is the image) Alt=Hot Pizza Coming out of the Oven

We see Alt tags stuffed we keywords daily, I don’t like it because of two reasons A) it’s not good for disability users B) Google will make an algorithm that they probably already made that will recognize this and it just gives your site bad street cred with Google.

Regarding image optimization, this also deals a lot with how fast pages load. We want all images to be smaller than 300 KB, it can happen, it can be done and it may be something that you need help with, but there are online tools (I think free ones, but in fear of recommending something that will bloat your computer, I’ll just say that there are probably tools and/or you can download them all, send them to a designer and say I want these all back 300 KB or less. Large Slider images will be difficult, but we can get them down quite about. I’ve seen quality ones in the 500 KB range.

KB = Kilobytes

Takeaways & Tips: Don’t add keywords to images if there’s not an opportunity.

Think users first. Every page needs an image and every image needs an alt tag.

SSL Certificates (Secure Sockets Layer)

For well over a year Google has given secure sites with an SSL certificate a slight bump. You are transmitting user information from your site to your server, so it should be protected, and users feel safe when they see the green bar. You have tons of options; the easiest and cheapest route is Domain Validation. It’s quick, easy and provides the security you need. There are tons of great companies that offer SSL certificates and we do too, but you must host with us, so you’ll end up with stellar hosting and the best deal on SSL certificates. That said, all hosts sell them companies like Comodo, Thawte, Symantec, GeoTrust, RapidSSL and hundreds of others. It’s not an option if you have an ecommerce store, you need a SSL certificate. They are relatively in expensive, they make users feel safe on your site, you get a badge, and you know information sent from your contact forms is encrypted.

If you’re looking for more expensive options there are Organizational Validation and Extended Validation. They get pricey, but they give higher insurance coverage, and the better ones will show your company name in Green next to your URL in the browser.

Recap: Inexpensive way for a rank boost, encrypted content from your contact forms, they make users feel safe, you get a badge, and a little piece of mind with some insurance.

Hosting Matters a Great Deal – Pinky Swear

There are great hosting companies, and a lot worse ones. Unfortunately, the bad ones spend the most on marketing and give you the worst service. As funny as it sounds, the bad hosts cost more (unless you truly only host – no emails), because they nickel and dime you for everything. Then, they throw you in a mid-to-low security environment with thousands of other websites. So you are sharing a server in most cases with literally thousands of other businesses. Those other sites may have security weaknesses, which may become your security weaknesses. This isn’t a blanket statement, some cheap hosting companies do have decent security measures, but nothing compared to the higher priced hosting organizations.

Great Customer Service is Priceless

Then, there’s the customer service. Low cost hosting companies have “tiered systems” for customer support i.e. Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, and the lower Tier reps aren’t much help, but I will say that in general they (as in the cheaper hosting companies, do try to provide good customer service.

Great hosting companies typically hire skilled technicians that would all be considered tier 3 reps at the cheaper organizations. The first person you call knows about domain support, hosting support, DNS record support, Optimizing your site for faster load times and so on. So, forget about the longer wait times, the fact that they always try to sell you more services, and the passing small problems around to different departments trained for your specific problem, and just focus on the company’s ability to quickly solve your problem and not waste your time. To me, it makes sense to save time for a cup of coffee a month.

Great hosting companies and the security measures they put in place can help ensure your site doesn’t get hacked, and that it’s always up and loads fast. Fast loading sites are a ranking factor and security is too, so take it serious. The right hosting companies will work with you to ensure your site is getting the resources it needs all the time. Have you ever been to your site on say GoDaddy, Host Monster, Blue Host, Host Gator, 1 and 1, FatCow or any of the other extremely cheap hosting companies and noticed that your site is slower than molasses? Again, the hosting is cheap, but the add-ons, well they add up. Do yourself and your customers a favor and fork over $3 – $5 more per month for great hosting. Phoenix Online Media offers amazing hosting through a top tier company and we offer it cheaper than the company offers it. We also offer 2-sets of off-site backups. Plus, we have a partnership with a top-tier (best in class) company that always scans your site for malware, gives you the same firewall financial institutions use, and automatically removes malware if it miraculously makes it onto your site. We don’t make money of hosting; we make money from taking care of people, because our team and our leadership team believes that the people you take care of, will take care of you.

The last thing you want is your rankings to drop because of a slow site or for your customers to bounce because they expect fast loading web pages. Customers are impatient.

Google My Business and Bing Places

Here are links to each place:

Google My Business (GMB)

Bing Places (AKA Bing Local)

These two profiles are arguably the best first profiles to get setup and verified for your business. Plus, they have an incredible amount of features to make your business look incredible (first impressions matter). We are in no way recommending that these are the end all great directories; there are hundreds of great directories, these are important and if done right can help your business quickly move towards more traffic and as mentioned earlier, they have the tools to show your business’ best qualities in a great way. Both processes are very similar and very easy to do. Complete everything, do the first one, save the information you used in the first one, and use it on the second to speed things up. If possible, use unique business descriptions that include your keywords in each directory.

When writing business, descriptions don’t stuff keywords, write naturally and think about your users. What do they want to know to decide to call or visit you? Then create a strong call to action. Google My Business is by far the better in terms of traffic potential, but some data does suggest that Bing users buy more online.

Make sure you do fully complete your profiles as much as you can: logo, address, phone number, social media links, photos, photos and more photos etc. prior to their verification process. In 90% of cases, after you finish the quick profile setup, both organizations will send you a postcard with a pin# to your business. You need this to fully verify the profiles and take advantage of all their wonderful features. If you’re that lucky 10%, they’ll give you a quick call and get everything done in a few short minutes.

Make a Page for Each Major Product/Service

I’m not sure why but some people I talk to assume that if Google knows they are an insurance agency, that they also know every insurance plan the sell and the details about the company’s plans, plan options, carriers (if it’s a broker) that the broker works with and so on. It’s not possible. Every business is unique, which is why there are more than a few kinds of each business in each industry.

I write this portion hoping that you have done keyword research, or that you have a pretty good idea of what users are going to use to find your business online. I talk to a lot of business owners and for the most part, they do know the main things users are searching to find them. They just don’t know much about the long-tail words or hidden gems. Remember, this guide is to get you to a better place than you are now, future information we share will get you to a better place. With that in mind, you need an actual web page for each product or service you over. An overall “Services” or “Products” page cut it. It does give Google and other search engines a better idea of what your business does, but it doesn’t give them as much of an idea as your competitors. If you want to win online, you must be better than the competition.

Simple Example of Creating Pages for Main Products & Services

  • Example: You’re an Insurance Broker and You Sell: Auto, Life & Home Insurance
  • Your site structure may look something like this
  • Homepage, Services Page, About Us | Contact Us | Reviews

Let’s focus on the Services Page. On that page, you’ll want to list out your services:

Auto Insurance, Life Insurance, Home Insurance.

And write brief introductions about each service with a nice picture next to the text, and a read more or learn more button linking to the new: Auto Insurance Page, the new Life Insurance Page, the new Home Insurance Page. Don’t forget that these images need to have Alt tags.

Tip: You’ll also want to alter your main navigation so users can hover over your services page and quickly get to what they are looking for.

These new pages need to talk about why you are different, what your benefits are, what separates you from the competition, your experience, give them some free tips and advice, and add a call to action on each of the pages towards the top left or right side of the page. A short contact form or button that is connected to a pop-up or your contact page will do for now. If you remember from an earlier section, we recommended that every page has at least one image and that each of those images have Alt tags. Ensure these new pages do too, and that they have a Page Title, Meta Description and an H1 tag as mentioned above (don’t forget the city). Make sure the pictures represent the page, so that you can have an opportunity to legitimately add a keyword in your Alt tag.

Create a Google Analytics Account & a Google Search Console Account

*Make sure you save all the passwords when creating these accounts.

All too often I talk with business owners and they have no idea how many visits they get, how many conversions they get, how long people stay on their site and on-and-on. I blame the designer/developer because it’s a must for every website, but if they offered and you turned it down, then I blame you.

Setting up a Google Analytics account will give you access to more information about your website visitors than you’ll ever likely need to know, and it’s free, and it’s easy to use and set up. Here’s a link to a page where you can sign up for a free account.

After signing up, walk through the steps: Give the Account a Name (Maybe an Acronym), Give the Actual Website Name, Then, enter in the actual URL. If you already have an SSL certificate in place, you will need to choose the https version of the URL from the dropdown, Select the Industry Category, select your time zone make sure the boxes you want checked are checked and click on the blue button that says “Get Tracking Id.” Copy the code on notepad, notepad ++, or another text editor and add it to your website between the closing </head> tag. If you need help give us a call or contact your webmaster. After that’s connected, test to make sure it works, and you’re off to the races with data you can use to improve your business.

Example of Google Analytics Tracking Code

<script>
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,’script’,’https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’);
ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXXXXXX-X’, ‘auto’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);
</script>

Setting up Your Google Search Console Account

Your Google Search Console Account has so much data, and so many recommendations and ways to improve your business that I’m excited just thinking you may set one up after reading this. If you do this after setting up your Analytics account and verifying that it is working, it will make the process a lot easier. Here’s a link to Google’s Search Console (formerly called Google Webmaster’s). Once logging in, they are going to ask you to add your website. Google recommends you add all variations of your website, for example, if you have an SSL certificate, you will be adding 4 versions. If you do not have an SSL certificate, you will be adding two versions.

Example of 4 Versions (SSL) https://www.xyzcompany.com https://xyzcompany.com http://www.xyzcompany.com http://xyzcompany.com

Example of 2 Versions (No SSL) http://www.xyzcompany.com http://xyzcompany.com

*The order that you enter them in does not matter, but you need to enter both the non-and non-www version of your website.

After entering in the first URL, Google will want you to authenticate that you do own the domain. The easiest way is to use the tab that says Alternate method and choose Google Analytics.

After it verifies, you’ll go to a dashboard, but since you want to enter in more properties, you’ll want to click on the red Search Console word in in the top left. This will take you to a page where you can add the remainder of your properties. To add the remainder of your websites/properties, click on the red button

ADD A PROPERTY

Continue this process until all four or all two properties are added, and if you get an SSL certificate later, make sure you go back to Google’s Search Console to add the new properties.

Tip: Go to each properties dashboard and add your site’s sitemap if you have one, if you don’t, we will cover that in our next guide.

Responsive Design

I’m not going to say much about this because if you don’t have a mobile/tablet friendly website by now, you probably don’t care. For those of you that don’t care, and just don’t think it’s worth it, these stats may change your mind: In most industries, mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic (very few industries haven’t but in the coming months they surely will), in 2015 40% of Black Friday sales were made on a mobile device, more than half of Google searches come from mobile devices, and Google’s share of mobile search traffic 89%.

Get a Responsive website. We don’t care if you get one from us, even though it’ll be the best built website you can get and compared to the big guys that do half as much, it will be more affordable – guaranteed.

Just get one, it’s best for your business and if you do business with Phoenix Online Media or anyone else, get a mobile site, because we care about your business even if you’re not a client. Go Responsive today.

JSON-LD Schema

Schema such as microdata and others have been around for a while. If you are using something other than JSON-LD, you’ll still get some benefit and you do not need to switch today. However, JSON-LD Schema is the preferred format by Google and what Google does, others usually follow. So, I’d think about switching to JSON-LD quick. It’s amazing because it tells search engines more about your site; it can help them better categorize your site, your products, your services and a whole lot more. Every site should have some form of Schema, but in the next 6-Months, every site should be using JSON-LD. Here’s a link to Google’s official announcement that they prefer it – click here.

Example of JSON-LD Code

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "http://schema.org",
"@type": "Restaurant",
"image": "http://www.example.com/image.jpg",
"@id": "http://www.billsburgerbonanza.example.com",
"name": "Bill’s Burger Bonanza",
"address": {
"@type": "PostalAddress",
"streetAddress": "123 E Indian School Rd.",
"addressLocality": "Phoenix",
"addressRegion": "AZ",
"postalCode": "85012",
"addressCountry": "US"
},
"geo": {
"@type": "GeoCoordinates",
"latitude": 33.494766,
"longitude": -112.072402
},
"description": "Bill’s Burger Bonanza is well known for making the best burgers in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. If you have a hankering for a hunk of beef, Bill’s Burger Bonanza can’t be beat.",
"url": "http://www.billsburgerbonanza.example.com/phoenix",
"telephone": "+16025551234",
"openingHours": "Mo,Tu,We,Th,Fr,Sa 09:00-22:00",
"menu": "http://www.billsburgerbonanza.example.com/menu",
"acceptsReservations": "True"
}
</script>

If you can do it on your own, great, there are plenty of examples that you can change, or you can get a webmaster or Phoenix Online Media to help.

Good luck and if you’ve followed this guide, you’re on your way to a better performing website.

If you can do us a favor and respond with the type of website you are using to [email protected]enixonlinemedia, we can ensure that we provide options in our next guide to help most of you. Thank you for downloading this guide.

Best of luck

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