by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Founder of the EmpoweringSites.com Network
It can be extremely frustrating to spend significant time, effort, and money to develop a professional Website, only to discover that your site has a low search-engine ranking, limited visitor traffic, and weak conversion ratios. Has this scenario happened to you? Do you wish your site could be found near the top of search-engine results? Are you struggling to build visitor traffic to your site? Do you desire to convert more visitors to paying customers/clients?
Here's the straight story. Maximizing your Website for search-engine and conversion optimization takes time, research, and effort on your part -- but if you start the process as soon as you finish reading this article, you can start seeing results in the next six months, with even greater results further down the line.
But rather than providing you with the so-called top 10 SEO secrets or the 10 steps to Website success, this article provides you with the 7 most common errors found on small business Websites. This list is not meant to be exhaustive -- the errors and mistakes Website owners and developers can make are plentiful. What you'll find instead are the most common errors found across a large study of small-business Websites -- along with some key suggestions and strategies for fixing the errors and putting you on the path to improving your site.
1. Underdeveloped Content. On the Internet, at least in terms of the search engines, content is still king, and Website owners are committing a major error in failing to publish high-quality content related to their business. Your content need not be overly long, exhaustive, or technical, but it should add value -- especially to your site's visitors (as well as in the eyes of search engines). Note: Quality content is not pure sales copy, but useful information.
2. Weak or Nonexistent Page Titles. Take the time to create unique page titles (about 60 characters long) that describe the content of each page -- using at least a few keywords in the process. You can, if you desire, include your brand or company name as part of the title for each page -- but the rest of the title should be unique to the page. For better search engine results, repeat the page title in the text of your page.
3. Weak, Nonexistent, or Incorrect Metatags. Metatags are purely for the search engines, as the vast majority of your visitors will never see them -- unless they decide to use "view source" when on your site. The key metatags -- from a marketing and SEO standpoint -- are the description and keywords tags. Again, each page must have a unique description (about 150 characters), and keywords related to the content in the page (with keywords used no more than 5 times). Learn more about metatags in our Website Marketing and SEO Glossary.
4. No or Limited External Links to Useful (Highly-Ranked) Sites. Search-engine spiders (and thus the search engines themselves) do not like dead ends -- they want to go from one Web page to another, until the whole Web is linked together. Your site cannot be a closed loop. Start a process of linking to highly ranked and respected (and non-competing) Websites -- links that your visitors may also find beneficial. Do not simply have a "useful links" page, but incorporate links to external sites in a variety of places on your site.
5. No Apparent Linking Campaign to Obtain Inbound Links. Just as you should have at least some links to other Websites, your site should also be linked to from as many highly ranked and respected Websites as possible. Start with industry and local Websites, and actively seek new inbound links. Develop a strategy for identifying quality Websites -- and then request a link to your site. (See a sample link request script here.) Want to see who links to you first? For Google, simply type "link:www.yourdomain.com" in a search box. For inbound links on other search engines, use this helpful article, How do I Find Inbound Links for my Page?
6. Weak or Nonexistent PageRank. In many ways, this error is related to most of the others in this article, but you should pay special attention to improving your site's PageRank. PageRank, trademarked by Google, is a complex and ever changing ranking of a Web page based on the number and value of links to and from the page. Gaining a high page ranking moves your site's pages higher in the search engine results pages, which means more prospective customers can find your site and buy your products or services.
7. Limited or Nonexistent Testimonials. Prospective customers and clients like to hear what current customers and clients have to say about your products and services. Some studies show that the first thing that prospective customers look for is the testimonials section. Establish a mechanism for collecting testimonials from your most satisfied customers and then publish them on a prominent page of your site.
While you work to fix these common mistakes, also take a hard look at the overall look and feel of your Website to make sure the message you are trying to send your target market is coming through. Ask yourself these questions:
See also our article, Top SEO and Web Publishing Mistakes.
More ideas for improving the marketing and search engine optimization of your Website can be found throughout EnhanceMyMarketing.com -- including our detailed Marketing and SEO Tutorials.
Web Marketing Guru Dr. Randall S. Hansen, CEO of EmpoweringSites.com -- a growing network of highly ranked educational and inspirational Websites -- has been empowering people his entire adult life. He is also founder and publisher of EmpoweringRetreat.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. He holds a doctorate in marketing and has been involved in marketing his entire life. Learn more at his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.