The Gift of Search, or the How the Heck Do I Get My Site on the First Page of Google?
Hi. It's Shannon again, and I’m the Möbius Social Media intern here to learn just about anything in 15 minutes from my coworkers. We have dubbed this gift of gifting "The Twelve Days of Möjoy", and I am happy to re-gift these gems with you. Follow along from the beginning.
Let's Meet Heather
Name: Heather Lumb
Official Title: SEO Director
Unofficial Title: Engagement Futurist
What’s your middle name: Samantha Nicole
First song you play on our office radio: Anything by The Weeknd or Fleetwood Mac
Best habit: Turning off all of the office lights
Favorite website to binge: Searchengineland.com
Time at Möbius: 11 months and 2 days (she has a thing for remembering numbers)
On the 6th day of Möjoy I got a quick glimpse into the mysterious world of SEO from Heather, Möbius’ Digital Marketing Strategist. She’s the dominant force of SEO around here, and knows just about everything there is to know on the subject of search.
If you don’t know, SEO originally stood for Search Engine Optimization, though modern, intuitive, user-focused search is changing that acronym to Search Experience Opmization. So she's our Search Experience Optimizer (or Optimist if you know her). SEO is the action of optimizing a website in order to ensure it appears as high as possible in a list of relevant search results.
Search engines—like the cream of the crop, Google, and others like Bing and DuckDuckGo—work hard to make sure that every page, knowledge graph, image, map location, rich answer, etc., delivered to searchers is what the searcher was looking for, even if the search was spelled wrong or reads confusing. People trust the first page of search results the most (91% of people don't go past page one of their search results), so desiring a first-page ranking is understandable. There are myriad elements that go into making sure that your site is optimized, and there is no way that we could have covered them all in a day, much less 15 minutes. My head would have exploded, and then how would you have read this? So, Heather taught me how to do a quick website audit in order to find a steady starting point to great site visibility.
Quick site audit lists vary in number of things to look for, but there are generally around 7 items on a mini site audit checklist. So we sat down and got to work on a very real, very naughty website whose innocent name we have chosen to protect because we actually love visiting when we're in town.
1. Does your page load fast?
Does the page load quickly and correctly? The page should load from top to bottom, and it should load as soon as you click the link on the search results. You can do this by trying to open it and seeing how quickly it loads, but you can also use Google's PageSpeed Insights that will give both your mobile and desktop site's a score out of 100. You can also use sites like SEMRush or Moz to audit the speed of your site.
There can be different reasons why your page won’t load fast enough, and there are different solutions to the problem. A few ways to kick up that speed: optimize your image file size (without sacrificing the quality), minify CSS, JS, and HTML codes to make sure they’re as succinct as possible, and enable compression. There are more, but that's a good start.
2. 5 Second Rule “What’s your site about in 5 seconds?”
This one is pretty easy, and you probably do it every time you open a new site. As soon as you open a website you should be able to know exactly what the site is about in under 5 seconds. If you need to look/scroll around the site or otherwise play Carmen Sandiego in order to understand what type of company you're checking out, then it’s no good.
3. Is your site Stage-Ready? (up-to-date & beautiful)
A website should look beautiful (and there is beauty in simplicity, rememeber that). SEO is about optimizing for the user and their experience. If your site looks crappy and outdated, then people are going to think that your company is crappy and outdated. It’s important to make sure that your site has the most up-to-date information and designs to make the best impression on a user that might only look at it for 5 seconds.
4. Do you need Waze to navigate your site?
A site should have a navigation system that is common sense to the user. They shouldn’t have to look around to know how to do anything. Your pages should be easy to get to and titled correctly to show users exactly what they’re getting when they click around your site. No one is going to take time to navigate your site if it’s too confusing, and this is just as obvious for users as it is for Search Engine crawlers like Googlebot. Instead, users will close your site and move onto the next one that might be easier to use, and crawlers will crawl the wrong, lesser important pages or give up when they reach dead ends.
Ah, the infamous CTA—an elemental staple in the every day of marketers. CTA stands for Call to Action. A Call To Action is an instruction that illicits response from a user on a website. This could be an invitation to become a subscriber to a site's newsletter, a whitepaper or PDF for you to download, or even a simple "Get Started" button to seamlessly introduce users to your business model. It’s important to have an obvious CTA on your site because you want to give your audience a direct path to take. To look at umpteen examples of elegant CTAs, take a look at our friend Hubspot's round-up. Shameless plug: Möbius does CTAs, too.
6. Got Social?
Every website should link to the social media profiles that represent the same company. This is normally done via social buttons, as users know to look for them. Social media is vital to a company’s online presence, and under almost any circumstance, every company should have at least one outlet for social presence. It’s a platform to inform and find your company easily, but most importantly it’s where the company can engage directly with customers, and vice versa. Social gives your company a voice and opens the conversation from a one-way street (website presence) to a two-way street (social media engagment). Your social identity enables customers to ask questions, review your products, and connect with your brand.
7. Where do you live?
You location should be obvious on your website. Again, this is all about the user experience. The user shouldn't have to search around for where you are located or how to contact you. Your name, address, and phone number (known in the biz as your NAP) should be easy to find and understand.
Apart from these 7 questions to ask yourself about your site, you can also do other tests to help your SEO. You can do a site responsivness and mobile-friendly test, check for your https encryption (checks how secure your site is with users’ information), or if your site has amplified mobile pages (AMP).
As a site user, there is nothing more annoying than wasting time clicking around a site because you know that the information is there, but you can’t find it. If you start with this quick site edit, you can gauge which steps will be needed to increase your site visibility, to ensure your online presence is powerful, and to create a better experience for your users while making your relationship stronger.
Here is me mid-audit of a site definitely going on the naughty list...