8 Key Elements for Small Business Web Sites
So you have a great looking website. All your contact information is there along with your amazing copy. You are thrilled with the look and the feel and the style.
Key visitors to your commercial pages include web robots that crawl the internet and catalog your content. Having proper HTML source code, plus the right combination of text and graphic presentation, is just one secret to success. Proper code may mean higher robot ratings, and the “look” is equally important. Once a new prospect finds your web site, you have 5 seconds to get them to stay. Websites must be designed to be found and then to hook the visitor so they stay on site.
As a small business web site owner, you may have asked “Why don’t we get any hits?”. Did you know web pages can load and appear correct with improper or deprecated HTML code? A browser may ignore your mistakes, and display what it thinks you meant, and it may look great. Web robots may not be as forgiving. This is the tech part of great website design. The part all us “non-techies” have a hard time evaluating, or even know we should evaluate.
Following is a list of 8 basic elements for good search engine placement that need to be considered in your design and web site promotion. For details on code issues from the worldwide authority, visit the World Wide Web Consortium to view DOCTYPE and other quality standards. Do a little research and ask your web designer or developer about these items. Don’t pretend to know what you don’t know, but ask informed questions about:
1. DOCTYPE Statement
2. Page Title
3. Proper HTML Code
4. META Description
5. META Key Words
6. First Paragraph of the Home Page
7. An Extra Page of Just LINKS
8. Backlinks (Links to your pages)
These 8 key items are either missing or poorly designed in 85% of all web sites. Some search engines may only list the other 15% in their directories. In other words, as few as 15% of the 6 billion web pages online ever make it into some search engines. Even worse, there are mistakes that may result in your page being blacklisted, and the search engine web crawlers may never come back to see if it’s corrected. This could explain why you “never get any hits”.
Web sites can be simple and professional without using fancy software to create your pages. Veteran programmers hand code and many create the HTML in NotePad. Web authors who choose to use flash, frames, or the latest software may be losing a significant portion of new visitors (customers) because the visitor may lack the technology or newest version of browsers. If they are turned off and leave without giving your site a fair viewing, it could mean lost profits.
Don’t be overly creative with your layout and design. We are creatures of habit and if the information your visitors are looking for isn’t where they expect it to be, they just might not take the time to look for your “creative location”. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken!
Most designers use prepackaged software to create web pages. If the software leaves out any of the key elements, the code is hidden, and you’ll never know your site was not optimized for search engines. The designer may not know, or care, about these items as long as the page looks attractive. Note: Search engine algorithms vary by company, so some elements such as “an extra page of links” may not be as important today with some search robots. Backlinks refer to marketing your site and getting other web sites to link to yours.
Finally, business visitors want information. They do not visit your home page to be entertained. Most have a need (problem) and want a fast answer (solution), so designs should be created to minimize the use of music or video unless that’s your core business. Anything that distracts from a positive first impression may violate my “5 Second Rule”. Keep your primary message short, engaging, and readily visible.