As a small business owner, few things bring more joy to me than seeing my clients using their website to build success online. It is always a real treat to be Googling a service I want, only to see one of my client’s website’s hovering at the top of the search engines.
Every part of my job here at Sanders is geared towards not only ensuring that a website looks great. But is also making sure that the website attracts the right type of web traffic. This may means that we target local search traffic for some clients where they may only provide services within a 25-mile range.
When building websites for my clients, I spend a lot of time focusing on search engine optimisation (SEO). I study keywords used to find my clients’ services and products in search engines and provide a content strategy that targets these searches.
While website design is a small component within SEO, it is the foundation that everything else builds on. If the website designer gets it wrong, then the rest of your SEO plan will crumble.
To show you just how vital a web designer is to improve your local website traffic, I want to go through some of the ‘tricks’ I use to get my clients front and centre in the search engines for local searches.
Why web design is essential to SEO
When most people discuss SEO, they talk about getting as many links pointed towards a website. They talk about creating quality content. But minimal discussion is placed upon the actual web design.
In part, this is down to the fact that most sites will be fully designed before anybody starts their SEO campaign. However, as I said before, if you get the web design wrong, then nothing else will work.
There are a lot of factors that search engines such as Google use to rank sites in their search engines. This is because their aim is to always serve up websites that people will find useful and relevant. These search engines do not want to send people to awful websites; otherwise, people would be reluctant to use the said search engine again.
So this means that the site design needs to be usable. It needs to be easy for website users to understand what the site is about and browse through it. This will be regardless of whatever device they are on, e.g. a website should work just as well on a desktop computer as a mobile computer.
Your design must be user-friendly right from the very start. It is hard for somebody to go back in and completely overhaul an established website. Therefore, make sure that you work with an experienced “local website designer” who understands the importance of your regional local SEO requirements instead of just making things look ‘pretty’.
Include your businesses’ contact information
You may sometimes see this referred to as ‘NAP’, which really means Name, Address, and Phone number. Since I assume that you are looking to target site visitors in the local area, then you need to tell them how to get hold of you.
However, the business contact information is there for a lot more than just telling people where you are located. It also tells the search engines where you are located. This is important.
If you have ever searched for a business in your local area, you will likely see contact details at the top of the searches. This is information pulled from a variety of different sources, including the contact information on your website.
Local SEO gets a whole lot easier if your “local web designer” (or yourself) puts focus on simply including your contact details. It is probably the quickest and the simplest way to increase your site’s traffic.
Do you have multiple locations for your business? Talk to your “local web designer”. They will be able to create individual location pages for each of your locations. This means more traffic for all of them! You may even want to create separate social media accounts for each of these locations for an even bigger boost.
Your business contact information must be consistent online. This means that you should always use the same structure for your business address on your website and whenever you submit to directories such as Yelp or for inclusion in the Google Local listings.
It would often help if you carried out what is known as a ‘citation audit’ where you go through all of the places where your business is listed and ensure that the information is consistent. If it isn’t, then find out how you can update it.
Optimise your website for local searches
Let’s say that you are a hairdresser in Newquay or even a local website designer in Redruth. You may wish to pull in customers from the local area, right?
This means that you need to design your website’s content around that. Including your company’s address is going to be a fantastic start here, but it is not the only thing that you should be doing.
A lot of your focus will be on keywords. These are the words that people type into the search engines to (hopefully) find you. I will not go into a ton of depth on selecting keywords here as it is something that I have written extensively about in the past. However, there are two things that you want from your chosen keywords:
- The keyword needs to be relevant to your business.
- The keyword needs to be a ‘buyer’s’ keyword, i.e. the people searching for those words are in the mood to buy.
This is how you get profitable local traffic on your website. For example, I know that if somebody were searching for ‘web design Cornwall’, I would know that any hits I got from that keyword would be people genuinely interested in the services that I offer.
The same goes for the hairdresser in Newquay. If somebody searched ‘women’s hairdresser in Newquay’, then chances are that person wants a hairdresser.
Local keywords need to be scattered throughout your content, so you can say “yes, my company is based in this location’, and it will work wonders when it comes to local searches.
It doesn’t always have to mention ‘buyer’s keywords’ when you write your localised content either. For example, I have seen some people be successful by just including general content related to the local area.
For example, maybe you are a plumber. You could write about the history of Victorian plumbing in the area, or something like this. All that matters is that the content is content, and you are sending out those signals.
Building that homepage
To do my job correctly as a “local web designer”, I need to spend a considerable amount of time on the homepage. This is because most of the time, this is the first page people will see when they land on your website.
The main reason I spend so long focusing on the front page of a website is to help my clients turn that web traffic they are getting into profitable web traffic.
A good homepage will keep people around for longer. The longer they are around, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
On the SEO front, a quality homepage is also essential. Firstly, it will include vital information about where your business is and what it does.
This makes the job of the search engines easier when it comes to ranking your content. However, a quality website will also reduce your bounce rate. Your bounce rate is the number of people that leave your website almost instantly.
The search engines hate this. It means that the results that they are serving up are not that great and, as a result, these sites tend to get pushed down the search engine results. Ideally, your bounce rate should be between 26-50%. The lower the number, the better.
Boost the speed of your website
Remember what I said earlier about how user accessibility of the website is important? This includes site speed.
Search engines do not like to rank slow loading websites. If people cannot load up a website in less than 3-seconds, they get irritated. Therefore, search engines never rank slow websites highly.
A significant focus of your local website designer will be to increase the speed of your website. This is partly why I use WordPress as the backend of a website. It is designed to be fast loading, and this is brilliant.
However, there is much more than I need to do to get sites running quickly. This includes optimising images and content, so they are small in size, but not so small that they hamper the browsing experience.
Web hosting is also another area for consideration. At Sanders, we use UK based WordPress compatible web hosting servers. While they can be a little bit more expensive, they are optimised and load quickly, which works wonders for client site rankings in search engines.
Optimise your site linking structure
A key part of web design is, once again, making the site easy to browse.
The chances are that when somebody lands on your website, they are not going to find exactly what they need on the first page they hit. They may have to click around for it. You want to make this as easy as possible.
When I work as a “local website designer”, I spend a considerable amount of time planning the navigational structure. I want to ensure that it takes as few clicks as possible for people to get from Point A to Point B (or point C, D, etc.). By decreasing the number of clicks, we increase the chance that visitors will spend more money.
It isn’t just your site visitors that you need to be concerned about here either. Site navigation plays a significant role in SEO. This is because:
- Good site navigation reduces your site’s bounce rate.
- Search engines can find all the content on your website, meaning more gets ranked.
- Internal links boost the ranking of each page on your site. Let’s say your homepage is highly ranked; then it will pass some of those benefits through to your other pages. Not as strong as an external link, but it is something.
Mobile responsive web design
Did you know that the majority of traffic to most websites nowadays comes from mobile devices?
Yep. More people are using their mobile phones and tablets to head to websites than desktop computers. This number is only rising too (it was around 50% in 2020).
This means that your website needs to display well on mobile devices. If your “local web designer” doesn’t design with mobile in mind, your site will not be profitable. It is only going to get less profitable as time goes on too.
Firstly, you have to think about the customer experience. A site that looks decent on mobile is going to keep them around for longer. It shows that you have invested in your company and this encourages people to buy from you.
From the local SEO perspective, mobile site design is vital. Google ranks websites with mobile versions higher in the search engines than any others.
You could have the most brilliant, content-focused website in your area, but it will end up ranking woefully if it has no mobile version. It may not even rank at all. If you search on Google on your mobile site, the rankings are slightly different.
It will never, ever include non-mobile optimised sites. This means that you will not be receiving traffic from over 50% of potential searchers!
Improve your metadata
Don’t know what metadata is? Don’t worry. It is pretty simple to understand.
If you carry out a Google search, then you will notice that each search result will have a little snippet. It will have the title of the website, the site description, etc. This is the metadata. Things can be a little bit more complicated than this, but, for most site owners, all you need to think about is:
- The title of the page
- The URL of the page
- A small description of the page
In the past, a “local website designer” would need to spend ages creating HTML code for each page to include the metadata. This was a long and convoluted process whenever you added a new page and, quite often, it would mean that you would have to pay for a web designer each time you wanted to add more pages to your website.
Nowadays, adding metadata is easy. I work with WordPress, and all of my WordPress installations will have an easy way to add metadata without any coding experience required.
If you add a new page, adding the metadata is similar to using a word processor. Just type what you want, and the website will do all the hard work for you.
Of course, it is one thing to know that you need to add metadata, and another knowing how to use it properly. However, if this page has been of any use, you will need to know that you should be leaning heavily into your site’s local aspect.
This means that the URL should include your location. The title should contain your keywords. The description should be attractive while also containing keywords and the location.
Every single page on your website should have different metadata. It helps to attract more traffic, and it helps to ensure that people end up on a relevant page.
Local business schema
This is something that your “local web designer” should probably be doing. This is because it can be tough to get right.
The local business schema is, essentially, code. It is a structured way of sharing information with the search engines. It is essentially going to give the search engine all that they need to know about your site. This will be mostly your contact details and a description of your business services for a local business.
It is tough to get ranked highly in searches without a local business schema on your website. This structured data is quick to put together (once you know how), but can really send the amount of traffic and paying customers you get through the roof.
SEO is tricky at the best of times. Things become a whole lot easier when the web design is done correctly, though. If you would like to boost the amount of traffic and, ultimately, get more paying customers to your website, contact me here at Sanders Design. I would love to walk you through how I can help. My design agency has helped countless companies drastically improve their web presence. Your site could be next.