There’s never a time when your website couldn’t use a little more love at the search engines. After all, is there such a thing as too much traffic?! From time to time, you’ll notice some onsite factors that are a clear indication that you should start spending more time on your website before things get out of hand. Many of us see our websites as a backyard garden, something that we’ll tend to one of these days but just never really get down to doing.
Here’s a quick list of issues and tips for fixing up your website.
Dead Pages with Links Pointing to Them
During the course of maintaining your website, you will add new pages, update pages and remove pages. You may have removed pages because you stopped offering a product line or service. However, each page of your website can have external pages pointing to it, and search engines like to use these links as a signal about the quality of your website. When you have dead pages, you will generally have a new page that has come up in its place. You can set up a simple page redirect via your .htaccess file or via your CMS to ensure that the links you already have don’t lose potential and that your visitors have a seamless experience.
Slow Loading Pages
Checking Alternate Keywords
When you’ve optimized your website for a few keywords and have hit the sweet spot at search engines for traffic from those terms, you can always do more from there. A quick method to ensure that you are not leaving out ancillary products for your competition to snatch up is to look at your keywords log. Look at what phrases your customers are looking for when they visit your site, and see if you can create a product or service that would be useful to them. Quite often you will notice that people search for slightly similar terms to your products, and search engines will send you traffic thinking that your website has the required services available. It would be wise to invest some time and effort into making the most of that traffic and having something that your customers can use in those niches as well.
Mobile, Social and More
If you haven’t already created a mobile experience for your users, you need to look into that soon. Mobile browsing isn’t just a fad anymore. It’s here to stay and it’s everywhere. People are looking at your website from their phones, and they need to see the data that is relevant to them quickly and easily before they move to alternate providers. Social websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are a great connection point. There’s nothing like hearing the pain and pleasure points so quickly from your end users and making changes to ensure that you are ready for the next big wave that people are looking for. The new media options available today allow us to hear what people want in an instant. If we don’t adapt to those demands, someone else will.
Reaching your customers via email is an inexpensive yet effective way to increase traffic to your website. That being said, you need to make sure to follow a few basic strategies for making the most of your mailing lists and outreach efforts.
The first thing people will see when you send them an email is your “From” name and email address. Since most emailing programs and websites allow you to customize your header settings, make sure your name clearly communicates that it’s coming from your website. For example, if your website is Mark’s Marketing Magic, make sure your email goes out as Mark’s Magic Marketing <firstname.lastname@example.org> or the equivalent for your website. It is also especially important that your email ID is not a Gmail or Hotmail address. That’s the last thing people expect to see from an established brand.
Use the subject line effectively as well. When you send out an email, do not use something generic like “Buy These Products.” Instead, use a phrase that’s more specifically targeted. And form it in an attention getting way like “James, these Magical Marketing strategies will surprise you!”
Get to the point. Long emails are not particularly inviting or easy to go through. With a limited attention span, most people will skip through a large portion of the email. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your emails to about five hundred words and spread the paragraphs apart so that it’s easy to scan and read. The focus of the email should be expressed clearly in the first two paragraphs with links to buy or respond before the first “fold” of the email.
Test before you send to minimize the chance of your message ending up in the recipient’s spam inbox. Many email service providers look for words like “free,” “buy now,” “get it here,” etc., to check if a mail is from a spam source. Most mass email programs have built-in tests for Bayesian spam filters and spam words that should be an essential step in email preparation. Also, the more unique your email looks, the lower the chance for being sent into spam limbo.
Filter mail users, which can be done with most of newer programs, based on opens, click-throughs, privacy requests, unsubscribe requests and sales. When people buy your products, make sure you thank them. And don’t email them again with another pitch!
Include an appropriate method for contacting you and sharing the email with others. Your footer should contain a number of options including methods of unsubscribing, easy forward-to-a-friend links, and contact-the-sender functions. In your email signature, clearly include your name and details.
Make sure to test your email tactics over time, and remember that email can be the cheapest and most effective method of reaching your customers. It is often ignored as it involves some work. But keep using it, and you’ll be surprised with the number of repeat customers you’ll find in your database.
Google Webmaster Tools is a free web service offered by Google that enables you to take more control of your website or blog. You can analyze your website as well as learn new ways of making it better in terms of enhancing its visibility on Google.
Perhaps the most effective role played by Google Webmaster Tools is in helping you gather information about your site which is otherwise impossible for you to know. For example, you can obtain complete information about the rank of your site in Google for the keywords that are important to you. You can also find information on the backlinks that point to your site, including the identify of the backlinks and the associated anchor text.
Before we move further, here are the benefits you’ll enjoy by using Google Webmaster Tools:
- Content Analysis: You will be penalized for using duplicate contents, descriptions or titles. With Webmaster Tools, you can easily detect duplicate titles or descriptions on any pages of your site.
- Sitemaps: Sitemaps help you index your pages in Google, although Google will index your website without a sitemap. With Webmaster Tools, you can tell Google to index the pages you want and opt out pages you don’t want Google to index. To enable this function, you need to create the XML file using a generator like http://code.google.com/p/sitemap-generators/wiki/SitemapGenerators.
- Web Crawling Analysis: Once your website has been indexed or crawled by Google, you can find problems encountered by Google while locating your pages. If Google encounters difficulty in finding any page of your website, it will be difficult to get it listed on search engines.
- Move Historical Data from One Domain to Another Domain: If you are changing your domain and are worried about how to preserve the historical data, Webmaster Tools has the solution. All you need to do is establish the new domain with Webmaster Tools and verify it. Then use the Change of Address element to let Google know about the move of the historical data from the old to the new one.
Google Webmaster Tools Setup
To set up your website with Google Webmaster Tools, follow these three steps:
- Visit the Webmaster Tools website (http://www.google.com/webmasters/) and sign in with your Google account. Then click the “Add a Site” button in red.
- Once you have added your website, you’ll need to verify that the website is yours. If you have Google Analytics, you can easily verify your site by connecting Google Analytics to Webmaster Tools. To follow this method, click on “Alternative Methods” and select the “Use your Google Analytics account” option.
- After verification of your site, you can add its sitemap to help Webmaster Tools know about the pages of your website. If you already have the sitemap of your website, you can find it when you type http://yourdomainname.com/sitemap.xml. It will take a few days for Webmaster Tools to gather information about your site.
Google Webmaster Tools vs. Google Analytics
Google Analytics provides data on the traffic your website receives, including search terms that generated the traffic, whereas Webmaster Tools displays the traffic that your website receives for each keyword (on Google only). In short, Google Analytics, the website statistics tool, displays info on how many visitors you are receiving and how your site is drawing them in. On the other hand, Webmaster Tools tells you how Google tracks your site from a search engine’s point of view.
Google Webmaster Tools can be connected to Google Analytics to see how the Google Analytics Referring Pages report links with Webmaster Tools. Once you are on the Webmaster Tools home page, click “Manage” next to the site and click “Google Analytics profile.” Then choose the profile you want to connect with the site and “Save.” If you have multiple owners, Google requires each owner to connect individually.