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Making the Most of Your Business Website: Part I

06.11.12

Author: Isabelle Leichtman

Your business website is one of the most valuable tools for promoting your business and disseminating your information to the public. Having an appealing, efficient, and easily navigable website is critical for potential clients to develop a positive view and understanding of your company and what you offer. Your site may appear at the top of the search engine results (not an easy feat, mind you!), so ensuring that users can quickly and easily find the information they are looking for is imperative. Here are a few key items to check into to ensure you're maximizing the benefits of your company website:

Design with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind.

SEO is an intricate process that increases the likelihood of your website appear closer to the top of search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, which in turn produces traffic to your site.  The proper keywords must be used and the content should then be focused around those keywords. It is also important to write headlines that feature your identified keywords and inform the reader of main points. There are no shortage of websites to peruse, and the modern user rarely has the patience or time to dig for the information they are seeking. In addition, using headings in this way greatly assists search engines in identifying and correctly classifying the content on your site.

Navigating your site should be simple and intuitive.

Search engines use automated programs they refer to as “spiders” or "web crawlers" that scan through each page of the site and accumulating and index information for their internal database. As these programs use algorithms and are primarily automated, you need to make it as simple as possible for search engines to gather the data they need to properly index your site. Failing to do so can result in the spiders missing parts of your website. In addition, complex navigation and linking can be both confusing and frustrating for someone trying to locate specific information.

Aj Kumar, co-founder of the digital marketing agency Single Grain, suggests using subcategories so that every page requires no more than two or three links to access it.

Avoid conveying important information in images or script files.

If you have animations, images, or javascript files (such as alternating headers including text in the form of an image) the spiders may not recognize the content and won’t include it in their database. While search engines do take factors such as alternative text (commonly known as 'alt tags') into consideration, the actual on-screen text is by far the most important element in terms of ranking. Kumar suggests making sure that if you store information in images or script files that you also include it in text elsewhere on the page.

Create a sitemap to help search engines index your website.

Spiders will recognize this and keep it in the database to ensure that the spiders have accessed all of the pages properly.  Sitemaps are fairly easy to create; Google provides a useful overview of the process on their Webmaster Blog, along with popular tools to generate the actual code.

Stay Tuned...

While the previously listed points are important in making sure your website is both user-friendly and ranked well by search engines, stay tuned for the second part of this blog series for tips that consider the overall appeal and aesthetic of your site!

Written by Trey Jones

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