- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On May 22, 2015
I’ve been training our sales people on the latest developments in digital marketing. As part of this training we’ve been looking at the websites of several local businesses.
During our review of many of these websites we keep coming upon the same issues. The most common problems have to do with some basic search engine optimization elements.
Of course, such glitches are not good as search traffic often makes up a large percentage of the traffic to most websites. The type of problems we’re encountering can easily be fixed but could cost a site a significant amount of lost traffic.
Here are the problems that we’ve seen repeatedly over the last couple of weeks of reviewing local businesses’ websites:
1. Page title = business name
Under today’s SEO “rules” the page title is the most heavily weighted element on any web page.
I’d guess some business owners don’t know that the web page title is not necessarily what they see in a big font on their webpage but it’s what shows up in the browser tab. The most common situation we’re seeing is web pages that have as a title the name of the business.
This is not optimal for search engines because your business will nearly always rank well for your business name. We always do fine for our business name “Wainscot Media”. If someone is searching in Google for “Wainscot Media” then they will find us.
But that is not a big SEO win for us. By the time they are searching for Wainscot Media their intention is clear. What we really want to show up for in search are search terms like “custom publisher”, “digital agency” and “content marketing.”
In order to show up for “custom publisher” we need to have the words “custom publisher” on our webs pages and on the most important place on a web page: the page title.
So check your webpage titles. Do they say “John’s House of Gems” or “jeweler Ridgewood, NJ”?
2. Page title = “Home” or “About Us”
A variant of the above problem we’re seeing is when the default page title values are left in a website. These were presumably left in from the time the site was built. The page titles we see are “Home” and “About Us”.
Given that your page title is the most important SEO element on your web page, businesses that leave these default values in will be competing against each other for searches on the term “Home” and “About Us”. Unless you are in the real estate business it’s unlikely you want to capture people searching for “home”.
3. No Alt tags
Google is smart but it can’t yet look at a photo and know what it is. Search engines can currently only read text. You need to tell them what an image is by “tagging” the image with text. This tag is called an “alt tag” in HTML. It simply means a place in HTML where you have to describe what your images are in text.
We’ve look at a few sites in the last week that have beautiful photographs that are quite emotive to us humans but these same images had no “alt tags” which means Google has no idea what they are an cannot help to inform the world.
4. No Meta description
The meta description is the little paragraph you see on a Google results page under the website’s address. The meta description is not a place where Google looks for keywords but it is important to whether humans click on your site when you come up in a search result.
Your meta description should clearly state what your web page is about to entice a human to click on your site. If you miss it out, Google will do its best to pull words from your web page to put in as a description. The problem is Google’s efforts may not work out and you may end up with a strange description under your web page when you come up in search results.
If you want your web pages to work for your business, you may want to do a quick check on your website (and blog) to make sure these elements are in place and are as you want them to be.
From what I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks that’s not the case for all local businesses.