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How’s Your Online Hygiene? 3 ways to keep it healthy

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Our Online Marketing Director Peter Anania shares tips for keeping your online presence clean and healthy…

You’ve probably heard of ‘brand hygiene’ — the basic efforts your company should make to preserve and enhance your brand. Don’t forget your ‘online hygiene.’ Considering the value of your website to your overall brand, the health and vitality of your online presence is crucial. Here are 3 key areas of online brand maintenance:

1. CLEAN UP GOOGLE+, BING PLACES & YAHOO LOCAL

Here’s a key take-away: whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, ensure your company’s Google+ page is properly filled out.

You have a right to be confused because Google+ is largely seen as a failed social media platform that little to no one uses. So why care about Google+?

Don’t forget that Google accounts for roughly ~70% of all U.S. online searches. Google holds this market share by always improving the user experience (UX) of their platform and a big part of UX is getting users highly relevant information fast.

In the future Google will increasingly leverage Google+ to give users information without ever having to visit your site. At a bare minimum this means your phone number, photos of your company and your logo will be listed.

Beyond Google+ your company should consider properly filling your Bing Local and Yahoo Places listing. These two platforms have a significant share of that remaining ~30% of search traffic.

2. PRIORITIZE YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN & USER EXPERIENCE

Think mobile. You’ve heard the usual buzzwords, “mobile first,” “mobile ready” and “responsive” when referring to website design. These aren’t new. Truly thinking mobile goes beyond simply having a responsive design and transcends into functionality and site performance. As far as functionality is concerned, leave no stone unturned by adhering to HTML best practices like making phone numbers tap-to-call.

Optimize for speed. It’s crucial to thinking mobile. Websites need to load fast no matter the users connection. This means streamlining the website’s code as well as the structure of that code. Properly compressing images also have a major impact on increasing site speed.

Stay away from pre-made templates. Have you noticed that a lot of websites are starting to look the same? Stand out by staying away from designers and developers that use premade templates to build websites.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of template-based websites. This is where the designer, developer or even web agency simply buys a premade template and customizes it with the clients’ logos and colors.

These template based websites are a great fit for very small budgets, but they tend to look just that: low-budget. That’s not going to enhance your brand. If you can afford it, seek a talented team that codes and design each website from ground up. Your brand identity will thank you and your website will be truly unique.

Beyond design, template based websites have major user experience and performance issues. This is mainly due to the fact that the same template design will be used for thousands to hundreds of thousands of sites. So developers building these themes use a massive amount of code in a ‘one size fits all approach’. This means for bloated code and a slower loading website.

3. MAKE THE MOST OF ON-PAGE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

On-page search engine optimization (SEO) refers to crafting the elements of a web page in a way that will have the highest impact when indexed by a search engine. As this is a post on ‘online hygiene’ and not solely SEO, let’s stick with a few basics. One thing to remember is to never compromise the quality of your content, brand and message for sake of SEO.

It is important that each page of your website has properly filled out and tags. These tags not only tell Google what your page is about but they also are very commonly what Google uses to display your page in search engine results.

There are alsotags for images and links as well as “alternative attributes of an image tags”, the latter having more of an impact on SEO then the former. Regardless of their SEO impact it is important to fill these tags out properly as they also improve accessibility of the website.

HTML is meant to be structured much like an outline with headers, sub headers and lists. Making the most of these structure will not only help optimize the page but it will also make it more readable for the user. It is important to remember to only use my main header of per page. Use subheaders

and so on to divide your content into sections. Make use of ordered and unordered lists when logical.

NEXT STEPS

If you’re not sure where to focus your online hygiene efforts, an annual online audit is a useful way to reveal areas of improvement, and prioritize the weak spots. Better yet, revisit these three areas quarterly to give your online hygiene the care and attention to keep it healthy.

Learn more about marketing and online audits.

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