Search engines are the new high street. Unless your brand name is a well-known name, your customers are likely to use Google, Bing or other search engines to search for products.
Imagine: you need new shoes. You're not a sneakerhead so brand names don't mean anything to you: you only want new shoes. So, you go to a search engine and type "size 6 black shoes," and a number of different websites pop up all selling size 6 black shoes.
You make your decision based on different things: reviews, delivery, price, etc., and you're not alone: 49% of people use Google to find a new product. But how did those websites appear in the search results in the first place?
It's all about SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Search engines like Google take into account different factors when showing search results, such as how fast your website loads, whether it's easy to use, or whether the content on your website matches what people are looking for.
It may not be high on your priority list, but SEO drives 1000% more traffic than organic social media; so while your Instagram earns you followers, showing higher in search results will give you more traffic on your website, which is essential if that's where you turn interest into sales.
Our free Get Found Online webinar offers you everything you need to know about SEO, including how to choose keywords, what content works best, and the essential resources to use. But we're here to offer 3 things you can do now to improve your website's SEO.
Removing large images
In determining how to rank sites, Google's algorithms prioritize websites that load quickly and work well on mobile phones. It's about the user experience: if a site takes too long to load, people will leave or don't convert. In fact, over half of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
One of the easiest things you can do is make sure the images you use are small in file size. Your flag image may look great, but if it's 8MB and takes a lifetime to load, it will affect conversion rates.
Squarespace has a good guide on how to format images for websites, but you can also speak to our digital experts for one-on-one support – more information can be found here.
Check your meta descriptions
How do search engines decide on the words to show in the results? This is where meta descriptions matter.
Meta descriptions are part of the background to your website and describe what's on the page for search engines. It helps people using search engines decide which result to click on, so making sure they're relevant and entertaining is important. Check out the example below from the Accelerating Wales for Business meta description on our Events page:
It tells the potential visitor what they can expect once it clicks. Writing a good meta description means matching it to the content on your website and making sure it fits the overall objectives of your keyword: ie what search terms do I want to appear as a result?
Depending on your website's content management system, your meta descriptions may be done automatically. But using tools like UberSuggest or Screaming Frog will help you find pages without meta description or ones that are repeated, so you can update them.
Measuring your success
With any change you make to your website, it's important to measure the results.
Resources like Google Analytics show you where traffic is coming from, including search engines, and how visitors interact with your website.
You can also use the Google Search Console to see what search terms bring people to your site and understand how Google views your site. We address these resources in our free SEO webinar.
Remember: set a benchmark; please make your changes; Measure; please adjust (if necessary). Our digital experts can discuss this with you as part of our free one-on-one business support – more information.
Success: Kiti Boutique
Making changes to improve SEO has a real impact. Kiti, an independent boutique based in Pontcanna, Cardiff, honed their SEO skills with Accelerate Wales for Business to gain higher placement on search engines and attract new customers.
"The advantages of Google are that you appear in front of people who may not know your business by name," says Jane Rowlads of Kiti Boutique. "They're looking for brands, so their interest in buying is already there. But you're also competing against everyone else in your field.
"The search engine optimisation (SEO) webinar by Accelerate Wales for Business was a huge help in getting us on track. We got a great overview of what we needed to know, and we're constantly revisiting what we've learned to keep putting things in place to maintain our online presence."
"A lot of our web traffic comes from Instagram, but we've managed to increase the hits we get through Google by up to 37% and a lot of that is due to the hard work we put into our SEO. Being seen on Google brings a new stream of customers that they might not have found before."