Cindy Novak of Web.com says today’s business websites should be optimized for cellphones. Half of today’s web searches happen on mobile devices, she told the Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Peter Jones
BY PETER JONES
If a business wants to attract customers to its website, it may want to attract Google first.
The technology firm that is synonymous with providing information operates what many consider to be the most vital search engine on the internet. By some estimates, Google is responsible for more than 65 percent of the world’s web searches, cycling through billions of webpages—and billions of dollars—by way of searchable keywords.
“It’s just that simple, people are trained to go [to Google],” said Cindy Novak, Colorado branch manager of Greenwood Village-based Web.com. “Because they give good information, people keep going back. … We laugh and jokingly call it the Google gods.”
Who’s joking? The internet marketing firm is one of only 18 Google “premier partners” in the world, meaning Web.com knows a thing or two about searchable terms and website content.
“Google is not in the assumption game,” Novak told a breakfast meeting of the Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce last week. “Just because you’re a landscaper, they’re not going to assume you have mowing services unless you tell them. Just because you’re a banker doesn’t mean they’re going to assume you do loans.”
This key is search-engine optimization, Novak said. If a website lacks the right information—or even the right word choice—in the forest of Internet choices, will anyone be there to click, and will the cash register make a sound?
Even the esoteric coding hidden behind web photos is important for Google and other search engines as they analyze websites for searchable material, Novak told business owners. Don’t name a photo something as bland as “wall,” even for coding purposes—call it a “meeting space” or something more directly related to the business’s services or products.
“Google reads your website like a book, top to bottom, left to right,” Novak said. “It’s critical you use words your customers use to search for your business.”
And if those customers are not such great spellers when it comes to “vien” for “vein” or “bagles” for “bagels,” find a way to incorporate their errors into the coding.
“The goal of a website should be to drive calls, drive leads, drive visits and drive sales,” Novak said. “… There’s a lot of folks out there looking for what you do and where you do it, and if you’re not popping up they’re going to your competition.”
That is even true, she said, for mom-and-pop businesses that tend to rely on locals, noting that 90 percent of local shoppers start online and that a neighborhood typically sees a 25 percent turnover in residents every year.
“So if we all do the math, in four years you’ve had almost 100 percent turnover. How are you reaching the new 25 percent of the folks?” Novak asked.
A website will also lose points if it lacks video content or is not optimized for those ubiquitous mobile devices that now account for half of all web searches.
And when clever presentation and targeted search words are not enough, a business can pay for search marketing, essentially “bidding” on the clicking of certain keywords, spelled right or not. Such paid searches can be limited by geographic area.
“If you’re in Englewood, someone in Steamboat Springs is probably not going to drive down for you to clean their teeth,” Novak said.
If you optimize your site for Google, she said, it will be optimized in general.
If you don’t believe her, just Google it, as is now the universal dictum.
“Who says I need a facial tissue?” Novak said, citing a quick analogy. “I was hoping to remember what it was called, other than a Kleenex.”
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