website dog

I was recently approached by a business owner, whose website was extremely difficult to find. In fact, even when someone typed in the exact business name in the search box, a competitor’s site came up with Google asking “Did you mean…”  In other words, the website was completely invisible to Google.  The business owner, who was very proud of his website, thought we could “add some SEO” to help people find him.

Upon review, the first thing we found was that the home page of the website was a Slider (carousel) with flashing images that covered the entire page.  There was no text, other than four H1 tags with short non-descript explanations. The page titles were generic. The descriptions were short. None of the pages had much text.  The contact page contained a form with no explanation of where the business was located. While this was a local business, there was no address given.  In fact, there was no place that even listed the state he was in. While the business owner was also proud of the fact that he had a responsive website that showed well on smart phones, the phone number did not display when the site was viewed on a mobile device. The form did not work on our iPhones.  There was literally no way to reach him via his website on a cell phone. Finally, he had no Facebook page or social presence of any kind, and had not published a press release or any other content about his business.

I’m sure that if Google were a person, she would have thrown her hands up in despair!

While there has been a lot of talk about the value of even having a website, the simple fact is that people still search the Internet for products and services – especially local businesses.  If these businesses do not have an easy to find website, potential customers will go elsewhere.confused dog computer

Today, Google and other search engines are quite open about the fact that in order to be found, a company needs a well-designed website with fresh content and good social signals.  However, even without those components, Google does help local businesses by offering to register their companies on the local Google+.  If you fill out their form, answer a couple of questions and add a verification PIN number, your business will show up on a list – and on a map – when people search for businesses like yours. Searching for the business by name will often display a local listing on the right side of the page, including a map, address, phone number, type of business, and even reviews, if available.

Many small business owners, believing they can save money by designing their own websites, are missing some important steps.  When a business owner is familiar with his business and his location, it is easy to forget that the Internet is a very big place, and forget to include an address – with city and state.  It is also important to realize that people may access the website on several different computer browsers, tablets and smart phones.  He must make sure that all of the components display well on all of them (which means testing on each).

While hiring a professional to develop a business website is probably money well spent, for those who feel they need to go the DIY route, should at least review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which outlines those things that Google finds important to help people get found.