Your Business’s Online Real Estate

aka Your Website’s Setup and Content

The way your website is set up, the text and images it contains, and even the way it looks can all affect SEO.

Your Domain

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Medium
What do I need?
Your domain provider, your hosting provider, your website developer (if you have one)

Your domain, or URL (www.yourcompany.com), holds quite a bit of weight when it comes to SEO.

The end of your URL (AKA the “extension”)

The best case scenario is that your URL ends in .com, .org, .gov or location country codes such as .co.uk. .Org should only be used if you’re a charity or a non-profit organisation. .Gov should only be used if you’re a government organisation. .Com is the most versatile and will be the one that most businesses should go for.

The only exception to this is if your business only targets a particular country. In this case, you can choose either the .com, or the local country code (e.g. .co.uk for the UK, .es for Spain, .de for Germany, etc). If there is a possibility that your business might go international in the future, go for the .com. Other alternatives such as .net, .biz, and .info are weaker on the SEO scale as they are used typically when the primary options are already taken.

Matching your business name

Your URL should match your business name as closely as possible. If your company is “Sparkle and Shine,” then get www.sparkleandshine.com as a domain (if available). It might be tempting to get a URL name that represents a keyword or service like www.greathousecleaners.com but we recommend avoiding that route.

If you found a website that didn’t match the business name, what would go through your mind? Maybe thoughts of a spammy company? You want your URL to be a part of the subtle signs that you are trustworthy. Not only that, but Google considers it spammy as well.

Word choice

Make sure your domain name is easy to remember and easy to spell, say, and type. You want it to be as simple as possible for someone to share your website by word-of-mouth.

Punctuation

Try to avoid hyphens in your website name. It will get annoying quickly when you’ve told the 100th person about “my hyphen great hyphen website dot com.”

Security

Google will penalise your website if it does not have a security certificate. You can tell which websites have this by the beginning of their URL. “https://” will show a secure site (or a green padlock) in your browser bar. “http://” will show an unsecured site (or a broken padlock), and may trigger a security warning by your browser before a visitor is allowed to continue to your website. Contact your hosting provider or website developer about getting this set up on your website.
When websites start with “https”, they show as secure.
When websites start with “http”, they show as not secure.

Website Look & Feel

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Medium
What do I need?
Ability to edit your website design or a website designer

Never underestimate the power of your website’s look and feel.

In short, it should look nice and be easy to read.

Pay attention to things like font size and color, add imagery so there’s not just a wall of text, etc. The design of your website directly affects how long people stay to read, how many pages they visit, and how easy it is to get their answers. All of these pieces affect SEO.

User-Friendly Website Navigation

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Medium
What do I need?
Ability to edit your website design or a website designer

What’s it like for a website visitor (called a user) to use your website?
Have you ever been to a website where you couldn’t find the information you needed? Clear, clean websites with well-structured home pages and menus often deliver the best user experiences. There should be clear paths to crucial information, and as few clicks as possible to get to the goal.
Tip
Try to view your website with fresh eyes – or better yet, get an honest friend to look at it and point out all the things they would change. This may be sometimes hard to hear, but priceless for the health of your website. Put on a brave face and write down all the little irritations your visitors have when navigating around your website. Prioritise the biggest gripes and work your way through the list. You won’t be able to please everybody, but listening to feedback is a very good start.

Original Copy

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Easy
What do I need?
Ability to update text on your website

“Copy” is the term for the written words on your website pages.
“Duplicate copy” is when the same exact text is found on more than one page on the internet.

Google penalises duplicate copy on your website, whether it’s duplicated from another website or from a different page on your own website. The words and text on each page of your website should be written afresh and not copied from anywhere published on the web.

If writing copy is not your forte, there is no shame in hiring a professional copywriter to do it for you – you’d be surprised how many people do.

Tip
If you want to refer to information on another website, then write a summary in your own words and then link to the page in question.

Content That Speaks to Your Audience

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Easy
What do I need?
Ability to update text on your website

Everything on your website should be created to match your target audience –
aka the person you want to take action (buy, sign up, subscribe).

Tailoring your wording and imagery to resonate with your customers will go a long way. At every step through your website, you want them to have confidence that they belong with you. You never want them to think, “Wait, is this for me?”

Use terminology that your customers use, imagery they would relate to, and most of all: answer their real questions.

Tip
Surveying your current customers and business network can be very helpful with this. Rather than guessing what your audience wants or needs, ask them. You might be surprised! Use their responses to inform the questions you answer and the words you use.

Internal Links

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Easy
What do I need?
Ability to update text on your website

You want to help your visitors know what to do next on every website page.

Put links to other spots on your website as often as would be practical.

Remember the User Friendly goal above? What could be more friendly for visitors than popping a link to your Contact Us page at the end of an article if people want to know more? Or perhaps you are referencing one of your services on your Home page – pop a link to it!

Make the navigation as easy as possible, and visitors might stay longer on your website, which in turn tells Google you are a worthy site.

Icon for the Browser Tab

aka the Favicon

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Medium
What do I need?
Graphic design to create the image in the correct dimensions, and access to edit your website

A polished website should have a browser tab icon that features your company logo.

So many websites forget about this little graphic! Check out the icon at the top of your Chrome/Firefox/Edge browser and watch how it changes with different websites you visit. This page, for example, should have a globe matching our WebHolism logo.

If this favicon isn’t branded in line with your company website, your trustworthiness and professionalism can take a bit of a hit. It may be small, but it makes a big impact on your image.

Website Compatibility with all Browsers

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Medium
What do I need?
Ability to edit your website design or a website designer, testing tool

How your website looks on every browser is a crucial part of SEO.

Are you a Chrome lover? A Firefox or Safari enthusiast? Or perhaps a Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer fan? Either way, you can imagine being interested in a website page, but upon arrival the layout is rather bizarre – with content covered up by images, or text running off the page. You instantly click away to find a different website, and that’s it. Bye-bye potential customer.

Quality on Every Page

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Easy
What do I need?
Ability to edit your website design or a website designer

A single poor quality page can bring down the ranking of your whole website.

While your Home page is generally the most important page of your website, every page is still a reflection of your business.

As we’ve mentioned, Google obsesses over quality. Give care and attention to each page of your website. All your web pages get “indexed” or read by Google eventually, so if a page is no longer relevant, update it or take it down.
(See “Redirects” section under Geeky Bits for how to take down pages safely.)

Website Optimised for Mobile & Tablet Viewing

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Medium
What do I need?
Ability to edit your website design or a website designer

Depending on your industry, a large percentage of your website views will happen on either a mobile phone or a tablet.

If your website does not have a mobile layout it will be in trouble with Google. Not only will you be penalised, but you can imagine the frustrating experience of visiting a website on your phone and not being able to accomplish anything.

Tip
The best way to handle this is “responsive design,” meaning that your website automatically adapts to the screen size it’s being viewed on.

Accessibility

How does this affect SEO?
Direct
Indirect

On-Page
Off-Page
UX
Difficulty level?
Medium
What do I need?
Ability to edit your website design or a website designer

People with disabilities use the internet every day.

The UK alone has more than 2 million people dealing with sight loss, and vision issues are not the only disabilities that affect the use of a website. Making your website accessible will not only be a kindness, but a solid business decision.

These could be potential customers, and you want their experience to be smooth – whether they’re using a browser reading software, clicking buttons, or trying to understand your offerings. Website accessibility is often overlooked (by your competitors too!). This community is rarely catered to and your business can be a refreshing help to them.

Additionally, Google can directly read the accessibility of your website and can factor it into your rankings.

Examples of accessibility modifications
Larger space and padding around places to click

Font size and color for ease of reading

Adding “alt text” to all image settings so when browser readers read the code out loud, they hear “woman with yellow sweater working on laptop drinking coffee” rather than “img83728494”
Dive Deeper

More reading into website accessibility from USA-based WebAIM
Tips for getting started with web accessibility from the global Web Accessibility Initiative

That about covers the basic SEO Action items that have to do with your website’s setup and content.
Continue on to learn more strategies.
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