It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running, your website has to perform. If your website doesn’t come up in Google, you may as well not exist. And if your customer does find your website, you have 15 seconds to capture their attention – or they’re gone.
We create branded websites for small businesses and help our customers wrestle with these challenges. Online visibility and performance is an art. It takes a lot of work – every day – to really stand out online. But here are three quick fixes that make a lasting impact.
1. Set Your Title Tags
Our first quick fix – set your title tags. The title tag is the most important element on your web page to search engines. But most small businesses don’t set them – or even know what they are.
What are title tags? They are the words used to describe each page of your website. Look at the top of your browser. Hover your mouse over the open tabs. The words that come up are your title tags. This tells the user and search engines exactly what the page is about.
What to include in the title tag? The most important words on the page – and those words that your customers will use to search for you. Usually this includes your company name and what you do. For local businesses, this usually includes your location (“Indian Restaurant in Portland, Oregon”). For many entrepreneurs this will include their name (“Susan Smith Coaching, Austin, Texas”). Set a specific title tag for every page of your website –based on the content.
2. Get Mobile Friendly
Our second quick fix – get mobile friendly. More people on our planet own mobile phones than toothbrushes. Your website must work on mobile. Here are some additional stats to prove this point:
So what do you do? Find out if you’re mobile compatible already. If you’re not the solution may not be as quick, but will still be very worthwhile. A good place to start is with Google – placing more emphasis on mobile compatibility. They sent shock waves to webmasters everywhere with their notices sent out in January and February about mobile compatibility. Google is now testing your website for mobile and will rank it lower if it finds any “mobile usability errors”. The good news is, Google has lots of tools to help you fix the problems. Start there to find specific instructions on switching your website to mobile.
3. Cut Your Text
Our final quick fix –cut your text. Less than 20% of content on an average web page is read. People are constantly skimming. They get bored in 15 seconds. So you need to make it really easy on them to get the points on your page.
Instead of writing out paragraphs of information, summarize your main points into a couple of words. Use these as your headings in easy to read fonts. Combine this with a visual that also makes your point. Take a look at some of the big brands you admire online. Examine how they get their points across. It probably doesn’t include a lot of text.
Check out the most popular website in the world – Google. They’re popular for many reasons - including the elegant simplicity of everything they do. The Google homepage feels refreshing and easy at each visit. Today I counted 12 words on the page. Also look at some of their supporting content pages (my current favorite Google site is Google Trends) for inspiration. You won’t see a lot of text.
Look at your own website. If you’re like most small businesses, you should probably cut your text in half – and then in half again. “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” This famous quote may have been introduced as early in 1657 – and is even more relevant today. Take the time to write shorter letters on your website. Your customers will thank you for it.
Sara Conte is a frequent contributor to online discussions about strategy, branding and entrepreneurship.