In part 1 of our 5-part series on a winning website, we’ll take a look at making a great first impression. Appearing professional and accessible is vitally important to your online success, and there are some very doable steps you can take to improve your presence.
Like a window-shopper strolling down Main Street, today’s customer will be attracted to (or inclined to ignore) a business based on their first impression. Many of those first impressions now happen on a Google search result page. While you can’t exactly buy a can of paint to freshen up your search presence, there are things you can do to make sure you’re properly represented.
A simple step that many businesses overlook is claiming their local business listing with Google. A completed profile gives your business an added boost on search results. It’s also the only way to appear in the map listings at the top of search result pages. Claiming your business is easy and free. Head to google.com/business and claim or update your business listing after you finish this video. This is the most effective thing you can do to better your online presence today.
If your home page does not have a proper page title, you’re botching your first impression. The page title exists in the HTML of your home page, and is displayed on a google search result page. How you set your page titles depends on the platform your website is using. If you are using a CMS framework like WordPress or Drupal, you can set the home page title in your site settings. If your site was built from scratch, you or your web designer will have to edit the title tag in the header section of your home page HTML.
A description tag lets you tell Google what your site is about. The description is displayed on a Google search result, and any of the keywords a user searched for will be highlighted there. The description meta tag is hidden in the header section of your webpage. It won’t appear on your page, but needs to be included in the HTML. Like the title tag, creating meta tags depends on your website platform. If you have control over the HTML, you can add <meta name=”description” content=”A description of your site” /> to your header section, changing the content section to represent your business. If you’re using WordPress or another platform, check your settings panels or google for a tutorial on how to create meta tags for your site.
In addition to rich meta tags, you should include on your home page text which will be relevant to people searching for a business like yours. Nothing is more important to a local business search than the location of the business and the areas served. This is especially important if your business is located in a smaller town and you serve nearby towns with different names. Including those names in the page text lets Google know that you are relevant to searches in the nearby town, and lets potential customers know that you’re willing to service them where they are.
Our final tip for optimizing your first impression is to take advantage of Google’s emphasis on business ratings. Using Rating Schema on your page, you can get a 5-star rating widget to appear on a search result. Not only does this stand out, a good rating gives immediate credibility to your business in the eyes of a potential customer. Implementing rating schema on your page is a bit more complicated than some of the other tips we’ve shared. If you or your web designer are comfortable giving it a try, you can use http://tools.seochat.com/tools/review-schema-generator to generate code that you can embed on your page. Make sure it’s done right, though, or you may do more harm than good.