Improving Traffic to your Website
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about getting organic traffic from search engines to your website, it’s a huge process which includes various factors like on-page and off-page optimization. Basically, Search engines work with different types of algorithms which will evaluate the website qualities to rank in the search result. These algorithms will regularly update by search engine companies to give quality search results.
Here are a few points to improve the traffic of your website,
About Search Engine Algorithms
Google updates its algorithm 100s of times per year. We need to do there commended improvements to the website, at least quarterly, to keep up rankings (where your site shows up in results) and traffic (how many site visitors you have) from the search engines. The kinds of updates required to maintain a stable ranking position and traffic to your website can be confusing. Here are a few tips to stay stable in search engines.
People visit your website to get information for a particular query, so giving them accurate, good and lengthy information will be very useful for them. Search engines take content as important signals to rank your website in search results, to stabilize in SERP (Search engine ranking position) and traffic to your website. You need to regularly update your content to keep search engines from viewing your content as stale. At a minimum, you have to release 1 or 2 useful blog articles (approx. 1800 words per article) on your website, change existing content which is outdated, and add content to important pages (like the service or about us page) once a month. This doesn’t always have to be written content. Videos, images or gif files are also effective.
More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in the U.S. You need to concentrate on mobile responsiveness of your website. Search engines attach strong ranking signals to mobile user experience.
These signals are things like:
- Good traffic data from mobile devices
- Do mobile users stay on the site a long time
- Do mobile users go to multiple pages
- Is there a high rate of click to call or click to navigate
- Are there obvious mobile specific styles in the code
Social Media Profile Integrating
More than 10 Million people all over the world use social media. Search engines take integrating social media pages into a website as a strong signal to better your search rank.
Do you have an active social media presence creating a lot of new links back to your website such as:
- Links from people sharing your content in posts
- Links from you sharing your content in posts
- Built in ways on your site to easily share content in posts
- A social presence spread out over multiple platforms (facebook, instagram, twitter, etc.)
Paid Link Building/Guest Blog Publishing
In addition to links from social platforms, backlinks from other websites are also important. It tells the search engine that other relevant sites also think that you are relevant. Link building is an important component of the ranking signals for search engines. If you carry a brand in your store, make sure that they have a link to you as a place to find their product. Pay to publish a guest blog article on your area of expertise in a related website with a lot of traffic. Pay to be listed in relevant online directories with good traffic. There are many ways to build backlinks and it’s an ongoing activity. Search engines are looking to see, like content on your site, what NEW links exist showing that people are STILL talking about you.
- Provide details about what data you collect on your website.
- Explain how this data is collected – For example, it could be through site logs, cookies, web beacons, signup/registration forms, comment forms, etc.
- Explain why you collect this information – This could be for improving your website, improving user experience, etc.
- If you use third-party ad networks like Google AdSense, you may also be serving cookies and web beacons on your website to serve targeted ads.
- Explain if your users could opt-out of these cookies. If so, then you might add the links to opt-out pages on your site and third-party advertiser websites.
Are you confused by GDPR, and how it will impact your website?
GDPR, short for General Data Protection Regulation, is an European Union law that you have likely heard about. We have received dozens of emails from our clients asking us to explain impact of GDPR on their website and what needs to be done to make them compliant.
Does GDPR apply to your site?
The answer is YES. It applies to every business, large and small, around the world (not just in the European Union). If your website has visitors from European Union countries, then this law applies to you.
What is required under GDPR?
The goal of GDPR is to protect user’s personally identifying information (PII) and hold businesses to a higher standard when it comes to how they collect, store, and use this data. The personal data includes: name, emails, physical address, IP address, health information, income, etc. While the GDPR regulation is 200 pages long, here are the most important pillars that you need to know:
- Explicit Consent – if you’re collecting personal data from an EU resident, then you must obtain explicit consent that’s specific and unambiguous. In other words, you can’t just send unsolicited emails to people who gave you their business card or filled out your website contact form because they DID NOT opt-in for your marketing newsletter (that’s called SPAM, and you shouldn’t be doing that anyways). For it to be considered explicit consent, you must require a positive opt-in (i.e no pre-ticked checkbox), contain clear wording (no legalese), and be separate from other terms & conditions.
- Rights to Data – you must inform individuals where, why, and how their data is processed / stored. An individual has the right to download their personal data and an individual also has the right to be forgotten meaning they can ask for their data to be deleted. This will make sure that when you hit Unsubscribe or ask companies to delete your profile, then they actually do that.
- Breach Notification – organizations must report certain types of data breaches to relevant authorities within 72 hours, unless the breach is considered harmless and poses no risk to individual data. However if a breach is high-risk, then the company MUST also inform individuals who’re impacted right away.
- Data Protection Officers – if you are a public company or process large amounts of personal information, then you must appoint a data protection officer. Again this is not required for small businesses. Consult an attorney if you’re in doubt.
SUMMARY: GDPR makes sure that businesses can’t go around spamming people by sending emails they didn’t ask for. Businesses can’t sell people’s data without their explicit consent. Businesses have to delete user’s account and unsubscribe them from email lists if the user ask you to do that. Businesses have to report data breaches and overall be better about data protection.
What do you need to do to make sure that your website is GDPR compliant?
- WordPress Upgrade: If your website is developed using WordPress, WordPress version 4.9.6 is GDPR compliant. So, you need to make sure that your website is upgraded.
- Comment Consent Form: If you website allows users to leave comments, you need to make sure that by default you don’t store the commenters name, email and website as a cookie on the user’s browser. You need to add a comment consent checkbox. The user can leave a comment without checking this box – but it would mean is that they would have to manually enter their name, email, and website every time they leave a comment.
- Data Export and Erase Feature: You need to have the ability to comply with GDPR’s data handling requirements and honor user’s request for exporting personal data as well as removal of user’s personal data.
- Google Analytics: You need to anonymize the data before storage and processing begins; and add an overlay to the site that gives notice of cookies and ask users for consent prior to tracking.
- Contact Forms: You need to get explicit consent from users to store their information; get explicit consent from users if you are planning to use their data for marketing purposes (i.e adding them to your email list); disable cookies, user-agent, and IP tracking for forms; comply with data-deletion requests.
- Email Marketing Opt-in Forms: Similar to contact forms, if you have any email marketing opt-in forms like popups, floating bars, inline-forms, and others, then you need to make sure that you’re collecting explicit consent from users before adding them to your list. This can generally be done with either adding a checkbox that user has to click before opt-in or simply requiring double-optin (Double opt-in includes an extra confirmation step that verifies each email address. This confirmation provides additional evidence of consent) to your email list.
- Retargeting Ads: If your website is running retargeting pixels or retargeting ads, then you will need to get user’s consent.
If you are not sure, contact your website developer to discuss how your website can be made GDPR Compliant.
One of the most common concern WordPress website owners have is regarding the security of their site and if it can be hacked. As the most popular Content Management System (CMS), running almost 30% of all websites that use a CMS, there will always be some WordPress sites that are no longer actively maintained or whose owners are simply unaware of what they need to do, so, yes, we will keep hearing about hacked WordPress sites.
But the truth is that WordPress has a vast and extremely active community, who follow the latest security trends, and spring into action whenever they discover a vulnerability, make WordPress the most secure CMS if you follow a few simple steps.
Some of these simple steps are:
- Change your admin login URL – your website developer can easily help do this, and doing this will make it difficult for hackers to guess how they can login to your website.
- Limit Brute Force Login attempts – This can be be done by limiting the number of incorrect login attempts by blocking IP addresses from where these originate and blocking IP addresses as soon as there is an attempt to login using an invalid username.
- Use a Custom Login Username – Do not use “admin” as your username, instead use something that is not easy to guess.
- Use a reliable Website Hosting provider – According to WP WhiteSecurity, 41% of hacked WordPress sites are hacked via their hosting.
- Run regular security scans on the website – You can either run these scans yourself or ask your website developers to run these scans atleast once every week (this can be automated)
Web users form first impressions of sites in as little as three seconds. Your potential clients, referral sources and recruiting prospects make instantaneous judgments of a site’s visual appeal. First impressions can skew subsequent judgments of perceived credibility, usability and ultimately influence whether to contact you or not. You only get one chance to create a good first impression, make it count. A clean and professional site can ensure that your first impression will be a good one.
What’s at risk? Below are the dangerous losses from a poorly designed Web site:
- Brand integrity
- Potential Clients / Existing Customers
- Geographic reach
Site surfers are fickle. When an existing client or prospective customer goes to your site they want information and they want information fast. Users will not wait for flash animations and absolutely despise “coming soon” or “under construction” signs with winking construction workers. They shutter at a home page crowded with everything under the kitchen sink the site has to offer. Users will not waste more than THREE seconds figuring out how your site is organized.
Warning: If clients do not find what they need, when they need it, they will leave your site and likely never return.
Brand is very important and does not simply refer to a logo. A site’s brand should include logo positioning and color scheme, but it should also include your voice and unique graphical images. It must be an integrated effort, matching all print collateral. Clients will acknowledge your consistency and the brand will be enforced.
Credibility is critical for all businesses. Consider this scenario. A business owner knows he or she needs a Web site, spends tens of thousands of dollars on print collateral and then hires their nephew to build a Web site for a few hundred bucks. May be a smart kid, but knows nothing about branding, marketing or design. Customers aren’t fools; they know when you have taken the time to plan out a Web site. If you or your team is embarrassed to send customers to your site, then pay attention. You are losing credibility and quite frankly potential business to your competitors. Building a site should be managed through a marketing or business development director.
Great sites do not guarantee clients and customers, but a bad one certainly will crush business development. For instance, an ecommerce site runs massive risks. Customers shopping online often complain about expired SSL certificates (SSL Certificates ensure credit card security), broken links, missing images, confusing page flow to purchase items, poor instructions and obvious programming errors. Customers will never come back to these sites. Keep in mind, there are not many e-commerce sites as successful as Amazon.com. It’s my opinion that the Amazon site flow is quite confusing. However, Amazon has enormous market share, so customers just put up with it. Most e-commerce businesses do not have the luxury of being a multi-million dollar business annually.
CPA firms, law firms, Real Estate companies and other professional services sites are notoriously bad at keeping content up to date. If you try to find an attorney you may find them on the site but then learn that they moved to Kansas. Occasionally you find mug shots of service professionals outdated, missing, or the site reflecting inaccurate staffing. The quality of the images on your site is very important. It’s your choice. Do you want to cut costs and take back alley photos with your digital camera, showing your CFO Bob with spinach in his smile or do you want to spend the money hiring a professional photographer? Your customers want to trust you and so how you appear is important. Is your image appropriate to your business? Can your customers trust you with their money?
Losing customers also means losing profits. If your customer cannot find information on your site, but finds what they need on a competitor’s site.say goodbye.
So, What is a Website Audit?
A Web site audit is your key to improving your customer experience, increasing the ability to acquire new customers, making more money, building community and “buzz” around your site to keep the company name, products and services top of mind. This audit may be an informal or formal document from a company specializing in audits. To start, you might ask your clients some of the following questions:
- Did you find what you were looking for and did you find it fast?
- Having been to the site, do you have a desire to go back to it?
- What would it take for you to go back to the site?
- What do you need?
- How can we best provide this?
If you do not have the time to do an audit yourself, you can hire a company that performs these audits. Web Site Audits are typically 20-30 page documents and recommendations that outline some of the following:
- First impressions (Is your customer getting what they want?)
- Branding (Consistency of brand through language, layout, font use and graphics)
- Heuristics (Success of user tasks, site efficiency, simplicity and error handling)
- Competition (Competitive Analysis)
- Search Engine positioning (How are you ranked based on existing key words)