Today’s websites are amazing channels for expressing your brand image and for selling products and services. But with the millions of offerings available on the web, how can you ensure that you get the most visibility, attract the right visitors and engage new clientele?
Here are seven tips for increasing your visibility on the web.
Content and User Experience Strategy
When you create a website, or if you would like to optimize an existing website, you need to ensure it is relevant and interesting to your visitors. To accomplish this, here are a few tips:
1. Respond to your clients’ needs
In sales, the golden rule is to know your customer. Whether you’re dealing with an in-person or online sale, the same rule applies. Once you have determined the profile of your targeted customers, you can adapt your website’s contents to their needs. Provide them with a harmonious, welcoming navigation experience so they don’t have to struggle to find information. Imagine the navigation process your customer will take, the information he or she is looking for, as well as the message you would like your customer to receive. This requires putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and guiding them during their navigation while responding to their questions.
According to current estimates, you have about 2 to 3 seconds (in french only) to attract visitors’ attention and about 8 seconds (in french only) to convince them to stay on your site. Make sure your website uses a clean design featuring short, light texts and relevant images and videos. Spend more time talking about “you,” in reference to the visitor, than about “we,” in reference to your business, and make sure the content is geared towards those who will be visiting your site. Always ask yourself the following question: Is this important to me, or to my visitors?
2. Motivate visitors with calls to action
All of the above efforts will be pointless if visitors do not do anything as a result of visiting your site. Start by defining your objectives in terms of the actions you would like them to take, as well as performance indicators in order to measure your site’s efficacy. Desired actions or outcomes could include having visitors make a purchase, download a brochure or even make a call by visiting the Contact page. Use highly visible buttons that encourage the visitor to click on them. Regularly check your webpages’ performance indicators and, if necessary, adapt your users’ navigation in order to improve their overall experience.
3. Search engine optimization
Once you have created a website that responds to your clients’ needs, it’s important to ensure that search engines are indexing your content. To do this, you have two options: natural search and paid search.
Natural search (or search engine optimization, called SEO) (in french only) involves giving visibility to your site through search engines by using strategic keywords that belong to your sector of activity. Apart from retaining the services of a natural indexing expert, this strategy does not require any media investment, but it does require technical understanding and a lot of basic groundwork.
You first need to choose the keywords that you will use on your website. For help making the selection, use free tools such as Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner to see the search volumes (or popularity amongst web surfers) related to various keywords. This tool will give you a good idea of the most searched-for keywords by users and volume trends, and will help you make decisions that will allow your site to have more of an impact. You can also check the occurrence of keywords on the Internet and even on your competitors’ sites.
Paid search (or search engine advertising, called SEA) (in french only) allows you to position a promotional link to a website amongst the first few results provided by a search engine. Paid search involves bidding on and purchasing keywords from networks such as Google Adwords or Microsoft AdCenter or sponsored links from Yahoo. When a web surfer performs a search using a keyword purchased by a business, the promotional link including the keywords will be displayed at the top of the natural search results. Note that the advertiser does not pay for this referencing unless the web user clicks on the promotional link.
To optimize the efficacy of paid search, you need to buy the most pertinent keywords for your business—the ones web surfers are most likely to use in their searches. Also, when you create the ad, the keywords you purchased must be used in the title and description of the ad as well as in the content of the destination pages. For example, if you create an ad for red roses, you must add the appropriate keywords in the title and description of the ad and make sure the link leads to the page where the customer can purchase the red roses, instead of violets, for example. This will make the cost-per-click more cost effective and improve the relevance of your advertising messages.
4. Give preference to long-tail keywords
Web surfers are increasingly submitting questions to search engines instead of simple keywords. For example, they will write: “Where can I buy gardening tools?” in the search window instead of just “gardening tools.” The arrival of personal assistants (chatbots) (in french only) and voice assistants is accelerating this trend. This means you will need to use long-tail keywords—a string of words—in order to respond to this kind of search. Frequently asked questions (FAQ), fact sheets and blog (in french only) subtitles are great places to insert long-tail keywords into your texts and improve your website’s natural referencing.
5. Use images and videos
It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but only if it is correctly referenced by search engines. One of the first steps to improving the natural referencing of images is to give them a title and a short, appropriate description—a text tag (alternate text, ALT)— (in french only) instead of a string of numbers. For example, if you are posting an image of a flower, it’s better to name the flower instead of labelling it “12345.”
Videos are just as useful, so long as they are short. Limit their duration to 2 minutes (in french only), otherwise you run the risk of losing 40% of your visitors. If you cannot cut down your video, simply indicate how long it will take to view it. By offering tutorial-type videos, you provide your customers with a better user experience and benefit from improved natural referencing. Google will improve your referencing if you help your users with their search.
6. Add external and internal hyperlinks
Adding external hyperlinks to your website that point to other sites you are familiar with can facilitate the natural referencing of your site. These hyperlinks to other interesting sites can also stimulate your visitors’ interest. Ideally, it would also help if other well-referenced websites included hyperlinks that lead to your site, thereby increasing your visibility and allowing your site to become better known. Finally, you should also consider integrating internal hyperlinks that will make navigating between the various sections of your website easier. The more coherent your website’s interconnection, the better your natural referencing will be.
7. Improve your visibility with geolocation
Another way of increasing your business’s visibility on the web is to list it with search sites such as Google, Yellow Pages, Yelp and Yahoo, which allow you to create a company webpage on their site for free.
By having your own page on these sites, your business can be quickly located in search engines. These search sites offer your business a presence on a map. They will then suggest it to web surfers as an option located nearby amongst other businesses similar to yours. Since web surfers often perform searches for specific needs on their mobile devices (such as looking for information, doing an activity or going somewhere), this type of service is a must-have to improve the visibility of your business, especially if you have well-established brick-and-mortar locations or stores.
For example, if someone is searching for a restaurant close to their work, he or she will use a mobile device to find interesting suggestions. If your business is listed with Google My Business and is located within a reasonable distance, Google My Business will show your business as a result. What’s more, customers can comment on your services on your business’s page, which will help it to become better known and help you adapt your offering based on customer’s feedback.
There are many tools that can be used today to raise your company’s profile via your website. That being said, it is always best to consult an expert in order to evaluate the extent of the work that needs to be done and help you avoid any surprises. This will give you a better idea of what you might be able to accomplish on your own versus what you could potentially gain by hiring a professional.