How to Create a Website That Google Won’t Ignore

Follow these 3 steps to build a first-­rate website for your small business.
Google magnifying glass
Using Google Adwords, you can pay for your site to be listed alongside certain search words. (Photo: 422737/Pixabay)

When an entrepreneur opens a small business, he or she must be able to juggle many skill sets – from accounting to marketing to managing inventory. Add to that list one more area of expertise: building a website and making sure potential customers can find it.

The first, and perhaps most important, thing to do is make sure Google can discover your site. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your site more visible to search engines. It may sound technical, but there’s really not much computer code writing required.

Barry Schwartz serves as executive editor of the Search Engine Roundtable and is the news editor of Search Engine Land. He’s been researching search engine optimization for more than a decade and is one of the country’s foremost experts on the subject.

“I tell people this. You basically want to make your website so great that it would be embarrassing for Google not to rank it well,” said Schwartz, who is also the CEO of Rusty Brick, a New York­-based software and mobile development company.

So how do you create a first-­rate site? It basically boils down to three steps.

1. Create engaging content

You want your site to have engaging content. “The more people that like your content, the more people will see it, the more people will link to it, the more Google is going to want to rank it well,” Schwartz said.

So how does the owner of a small business, like a laundromat, create content when they’re really in the business of cleaning clothes? Start a blog on your site.

“It would be hilarious to write a blog post about the worst damaged clothing they ever saw. Have cool content about funny customer experiences,” explained Schwartz. He suggests listening to your customers when they walk in and find out what issues are important to them. In the case of the laundromat, perhaps it’s topics like ripped shirts or certain types of stains. How-­to articles like “10 ways to remove a red wine stain” rank very well in search engines.

“Also, if you have a search box on your website, track what people are searching for on your site itself,” he added. “There will most likely be clues to content you want to write about.”

2. Focus on marketing

Now that you have scintillating and clickable content, how do you get people to find it? This is where search engine marketing can help.

“There’s no one tip that will get you ranked No. 1,” Schwartz said. “There’s so much competition out there. Google’s algorithms are really smart that you have to build absolutely the best website in your niche. And if you have 50 websites that sell sneakers online, why should you be No. 1, why shouldn’t you be No. 50? That’s the question small business owners have to ask themselves in building a website: What am I doing better with my website that nobody else is doing?”

Most off-­the-­shelf website creation tools – such as WordPress or Squarespace – will take care of the basics of what you need to be discovered by Google. After that it’s really about marketing, how you’re publicizing that content on the Web – through social media, email newsletters and so forth.

“Search marketing encompasses search engine optimization,” he said. “But a lot of what SEO is these days is marketing, is getting the buzz out about the content you have to offer so that more people see it and more people link to it.”

Schwartz also suggests looking into Google AdWords, which allows users to pay to have their site listed alongside search results for specific terms. The program allows business owners to do research to see which terms offer the most bang for their buck.

For example, a bakery in California might get better results being linked to a term like “Los Angeles cookies” as opposed to the broader, more generic term of “chocolate chip cookies,” which would have a lot more competition.

3. Continue to evolve

Google is constantly changing its algorithms, so website owners need to stay abreast of these evolutions. But Schwartz said most small businesses shouldn’t have to worry too much about that.

“They should just focus on building the best website possible,” he said. “This way, when Google does change their algorithm, you’ll rank higher since this is the type of quality content Google wants its users to find.”

He also suggested having an expert run a simple audit on your site.

“Change one thing in the source code and you could see huge changes in your search ranking and your traffic.”

One place to look for help are in online communities and forums where you can ask for advice – oftentimes for free. Indeed, several times a month Google itself offers live webmaster hangouts where you can ask the search giant questions directly about issues related to your website.

“These are good ways to get free advice from people in the industry, so I would recommend going that route,” Schwartz says. And, he points out, there’s no one magic bullet.

Focusing on these three areas should get small business owners on track to producing great websites for their current customers and hopefully finding new ones as well.

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