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Friday, February 28, 2014

Create a Welcoming Website


Your website is the online space for your business. It is your "store" where people come to buy your products and services. 

When you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, how it is laid out is one of the most important factors you use in deciding how long you want to stay and what you want to look at. If it is cluttered and items are hard to find, you are more likely to leave. On the other hand, if items are attractively displayed and you find them interesting, you are most likely to stay.

One of my favorite shops in San Francisco, where I live, sells crystal. It is like walking into a fairyland. I always stop by when I am in the neighborhood and have made many purchases there. It is interesting, welcoming, and whimsical. It totally reflects the brand messaging of the business. On the other hand, one of the city's high-end object d'art stores is one of my least favorites. It is cold and sterile. I only shop there if I need to purchase something from the registry. What does this have to do with your website?

Your website is your store. It must reflect your brand and brand messaging. Here are some tools to help you create a website that attracts visitors, gets them to stay, and encourages them to do business with you:

Choose a Title Wisely
A very important factor of search engine optimization (SEO) is the title of your website. When a reader looks at the title of your website in the search engine results, they should be able to determine what type of content will be on the website and whether or not it is something they want to know more about. You should also remember that the title should appear in the URL address, so it should be simple, straight to the point, and include a keyword or two.  

Content is King
For many years, people would create website pages stuffed with keywords and phrases because that was the main factor for ranking high in search results. Because of this, the internet was flooded with useless pages that contained nothing but keywords and lacked interesting or relevant content. Since then, the major search engines have adjusted their algorithms, and now content is king.

Web pages need lots of useful, original, and fresh information that readers will enjoy reading. You should write to entertain and inform readers and skip trying to stuff in all types of keywords in an attempt to have it rank better. Search engines, especially Google, now penalize websites that contain pages that simply try to “keyword-stuff” posts and articles.

Add Lots of Images and Image ALT Tags
When an article or blog post on your website contains relevant images, not only does it become more visually appealing to readers, it can help improve your SEO. Tons of image searches are performed daily, and when you add an image to your post with an ALT tag, it will get indexed into search engines. The key to this is to remember to add an ALT tag to each image you use. An ALT tag is essentially an alternative description for your picture and should include a keyword or two relevant to your post. These ALT tags get crawled by search engine spiders and will determine how your images get indexed. You should be able to create the ALT by clicking on the image and looking for "settings" or "properties."

Interlink to Other Pages in Your Website
Business owners can become so obsessed with trying to get backlinks from other quality websites that they forget one of the most important and basic steps of SEO: interlinking pages on their own website. While building quality backlinks is definitely important to a good SEO strategy, you shouldn’t forget to link to other posts or articles in your own site. When you select keywords from one of your posts or other website content and then link it to another relevant post or page, you can increase page views AND you are helping search engine spiders travel deeper into your website. This is great for SEO purposes.

Follow my blog for more information on creating dynamic websites and visit my website at www.phaddock.com for lots of free tips and tools under my Resources page. 

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