Jun 21, 2015

‘Control What’s Controllable’

You know search ranking is good for your business, but difficult to control. These are the things you can control.

Being new(er) to Philadelphia, and late of Boston, I appreciate the plain, realistic speech of the old, hooded Patriots football coach, Bill Belichick, more than most.

Like or loath him, his simple platitudes on how the game of football works are universally wise. His main mantra – control what’s controllable – easily applies to how your business can improve your website to help get it in front of more eyeballs with the explicit understanding that eyeballs also come with money.

Before I get into it, a quick definition of the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO): It’s meaning is literal – its application is an answer to the question, “How do I optimize my website so that more people find it when they search for something I offer?” SEO is a vast and evolving discipline, with changes made weekly, and there are many things you can do that are more complex than what I suggest.

But, evoking Coach Bill, let’s not get daunted by what you don’t know / can’t control. Let’s focus on a few single things you can control.


Page Speed

Why do you and I need to focus on load speed? Good question. Your answer:

Page Speed is an important ranking factor. In fact, it’s part of Google’s ranking algorithm for both desktop and mobile. Given that, having a better-optimized page will help deliver better rankings. While fast load times won’t necessarily equate to a #1 ranking, they can give your site an advantage.-Search Engine Land

Because so much of Google’s focus — and all search engines, for that matter — is user experience, and because more searching occurs on mobile devices than on desktops, having a website that loads quickly is paramount to whether or not it is shown in search results. If you are found, then that’s lost money.
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How do I know how fast my site loads? Click here to find out. What it measures is not how fast your site actually loads ( that depends on internet connection speeds ), but how fast, based on how it is built, that it can load.

Go ahead and run your business’s website through the test. Were there problems? Unless you get scores in the green level, then that will be a significant barrier to you being found. It’s a simple, though a bit time-consuming fix for someone like me. But it’s very worth it.
I’d also add that one of the significant flaws of buying an out-of-the-box WordPress template or using a DIY website creators like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly – is that because they want to give you so many options they are not made to be fast. The money you thought you saved with this option will end up costing you.

Responsive Design

I’d say this is all the rage now, but it’s old news for many. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a single website that looks good on any device – desktop, tablet, smartphone – because it’s programmed to ‘respond’ to those devices. Many ( antiquated ) businesses still utilize a mobile version of their website through a separate url, which I will get into more of below in the next topic. Building a website responsively eradicates that need, meaning you only have to update one website and anyone with an internet connection will only see the one version that you put out there.

Just so you know, Google recommends RWD and, if Google likes it, you should think about using it.
Additionally, and because of that fact that more searches occur on mobile devices than on a desktop, Google added a new, mobile-friendly update to its search algorithm that demotes sites that are not mobile friendly. So, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly version of your website, you’d better get on that.

One URL to Rule Them All

I addressed this in an earlier blog post about .mobi sites, and cited this article, One Url to Rule them All, but I can not stress this enough: your website and it’s pages should only have one url. There should be no www.m.yourbusiness.com or www.mobile.yourbusiness.com for tablet and mobile devices. Just www.yourbusiness.com.

There should be no www.m.yourbusiness.com or www.mobile.yourbusiness.com for tablet and mobile devices. Just www.yourbusiness.com served everywhere.