Small business owners often don’t know where to start when trying to improve their websites and increase the traffic they get from search engines like Google. In this post we’ll be looking at some technical improvements and services that small business owners can use that will have a big impact, such as XML Sitemaps, Schema Markup, and Responsive Design.
Business Intelligence and Information
Probably the most important thing a small business owner can learn is what is happening on their websites and what the search engines think of their sites. Understanding what people are doing when they come to your website is a critical element of having a successful website. Which pages are people visiting, how long are they spending on your site, and what people actually do on a site are just some of the things you can learn using analytics. There are many analytics services available, but for many people Google Analytics is a good option.
The second service that website owners should sign up for is the two Webmaster Centrals. Both Google and Bing have their own versions and, while the information may a little more technical than the analytics reports, it’s a really good way to learn if the search engines are having any problems with your website. These dashboards report on whether any errors that may be found during site crawls, such as unresponsive pages and xml sitemap issues.
Local Business Profile
If your small business has a physical location you are going to want to set up and claim that profile in Google Places. It gives you the ability to correct or adjust any information that Google has about your business. In addition it allows you to upload pictures that will be used in Google’s local carousel seen below. You’ll also want to set up a Google+ account for your business.
Schema and XML Tags
Schema and XML tags are “behind the scenes” coding that tells the search engines exactly what some of the information on your website really means. For example, if you have a physical location this tells the search engine what that location is (schema tags for local businesses). Unless you are pretty technical you will need the help of your “web girl/guy” to use these tags. Once you do this your business will have an “enhanced” listing with a map marker like the one shown below.
Most popular CMS systems have the ability to generate an XML file that lists all of the pages on your website in one file and submit it to the search engines. If you use this file and keep it updated every time you add new content to your website you will know how much of your website the search engines know about. It’s ok if they haven’t indexed all of the pages on your website, but it is a problem if a significant portion of your site isn’t indexed.
Mobile and Responsive Design
If you know anyone under the age of 30 you probably know how obsessed they can be about their smart phone and how they “Party Like it’s 2013“. Jokes aside, mobile browsing is becoming more and more important in everyday life, and having websites found and function well on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets can drive conversions through the roof. With that in mind, Mobile SEO is something every website owner needs to be concerned about. The best way to solve to this problem is to make sure you have a responsive design that adapts to whatever the consumer is using. If you don’t your site may not appear for people doing searches using a phone or tablet.
Anyone who has been involved in internet publishing for more than 5 years probably remembers how slow and unpleasant the internet was before we all got high speed cable internet connections. Thankfully those days are long gone, so why do we need to worry about page speed again? Because of mobile devices. When people use the net on their mobile data plans instead connecting to wifi browsing can be a painful experience. Google has introduced a page speed tool to help see how fast/slow your website is, which parts are causing problems, and what you can do to fix it. Some of these changes can be fairly involved so again you may need to involve your “web guy/girl”. However it’s definitely worth it as it will improve your website for everyone and help you with overall SEO efforts.