Is your website useful to your vistors, both human and non-human? You can spend a lot of time and money optimizing your website for search engines and making it friendly for your human visitors. There are books, tutorials, and videos. Ultimately, it comes down to just six things that are important when you build a website.
1. Text is king
Search engines cannot read graphics. Use graphics to make the site pretty for human visitors, but be sure that the really important content (name, location, phone number, hours of operation) are text elements on the page. The page design and contents must be pleasing to both humans and machines.
2. URLs are not that important
It is important to have an easy-to-type URL (Uniform Resource Locator). Your URL is part of your branding strategy. In the grand scheme of things, however, the URL is not all that important. Most people come to your site through an intermediary; they do not type in your URL. It’s more important to promote your site to the intermediaries than to have the perfect URL.
3. Reasonable Repetition
Search engines index the content of your site. In the old days (two to three years ago), the engines allowed you to set keywords through “meta” statements. They found that self-declared keywords were unreliable, so they now read a site and figure out keywords and key phrases on their own. This means that you should make sure any key terms people might use to search for your site are used on the pages of your site, and more than once.
4. Google can’t find what you don’t say
The converse of repetition is that if you don’t say it, Google can’t guess it. I worked with an organization that was promoting webinars. They were upset when searching on "webinar" didn't get any hits. After digging around for a bit, I found that they used "web conference" and "web based training" on the site, never using the word "webinar". You know what the words mean; Google just looks for the words. We updated the site to use "webinar" and all was well.
5. Tricks may be held against you
One of the things that doomed self-declared keywords was that some sites were gaming the system. They used a number of keywords in “meta” statements that had nothing to do with the actual content of the site. Search engines are now smarter. They look for attempts to game the system and punish them by pushing them down in the results. Don’t put a term 20 times in white text on a white background or hidden with a no-display tag.
6. Plan for mobile users
Have you reviewed your site from a few different brands of smart phones? There’s not a lot of screen real estate and someone viewing your site from a phone is probably concentrating on one of those five questions above. Make sure these are clearly visible on your home page, and that they’re text, not a graphic. Smart phones understand addresses and will automatically link an address to a map and make phone numbers clickable.