By Sara K. Sims, Director of Business Development,
This seventh in the series* of Promoting Your Practice Online articles addresses a simple yet important website tip that many people overlook: your sidebar content. Don’t let your website fail to make the best use of the sidebar on the front page of your website. Sidebar content is so important for search engine optimization (SE0)!
Creating a sidebar may seem like just a matter of having your contact information a few inches to the left or right, but it’s actually much more. In fact, many people think even including their location and contact information in a sidebar is unimportant—after all, that’s what the “contact me” page is for, right? Wrong. It actually makes a big difference in attracting a new potential client or being found in a Google search.
Potential Clients Like Sidebars
Consider the impression your website makes on searchers who are comparing your website to the other websites that they are scanning. Internet searchers often have a short attention span. Sure, it’s easy to click on a website; but it’s just as easy to click away from one and onto another one.
The key is to make your website as user-friendly as possible, and this means making information easy to find. A searcher might click a Contact Me page to find your location, but might also quickly pass by your site looking for information that is quicker and easier to find. Having all the important information a searcher is looking for on your home page is an important organizational factor that is more likely to lead to a new client.
Search Engines Like Sidebars
Listing your full address, phone number, and email in a sidebar means that this information is on every page of your website. This also means that search engines can find all of this information easily, which boils down to higher search-engine results for your website. This also helps promote your website as a coherent and connected whole.
It helps to understand that search engines are also looking for the text in your website. If your address is found in text on your site, search engines easily connect your location with your business. But if you only have your address embedded in a map widget, even if it’s visible to a human being, the computer/robot/ “spider” (the software that search engines use to scour the Internet for information) might not see it as anything more than an image.
You may be thinking, “then why even bother having a Contact Me page?” Don’t dispense with the Contact Me page! A map is a great tool to include on your Contact Me page, as is an automatic contact form. Remember that different people like to communicate in different ways, so some people would prefer to fill out a form on your site, while others would prefer to email or call. The more options you give potential clients, the more likely they are to take one of them.
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* Previous “Promoting Your Practice” articles have run in several issues of The Advocate this year:
- October (page 18),
- September (page 23),
- July/August (page 12),
- May (page 16),
- April (page 15), and
- March (page 14).