8 Elements of a Website That Ranks & Converts
Your company’s website should have two main goals: to make your business and activities discoverable in search engines and to convert visitors into customers. Optimizing your website helps you achieve these goals by giving your site the best chance of ranking in search results, making your site easy to navigate, and providing potential customers with a logical booking path from your homepage to booking an activity.
One of the most important components of optimizing your website is on-page SEO, which is essentially everything you do to communicate to Google what each page is about. This is done in part through the use of keywords in strategic places, such as in headings and metadata. Other factors that increase conversions include great content, an easy path to conversion, high-quality images, and a good user experience.
Keep these eight elements in mind when optimizing your website to help it rank and convert.
1. Responsive Design
More and more online transactions are happening on mobile, especially in the travel and tourism industry. Travelers often use their phones or tablets to search for things to do in the city they’re visiting, and these mobile searches lead to business for local companies. According to Nectafy, 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device result in a call or a visit to the business within 24 hours.
Because many of your customers are looking at your site on mobile, it’s important to make sure that it looks great and works as intended no matter the size of the screen. This is where responsive design comes in. Responsive design means that your pages resize intuitively depending on the device they’re viewed on, whether that’s a desktop, tablet, or phone.
Responsive design uses flexible grids and layouts that respond to the device being used and resize the elements of your site proportionately. The best way to check if your site is responsive is to pull it up on your phone. What’s the page load time like? How do the images look? How much scrolling do you have to do to get to a book button? Is the text easily readable without pinching and zooming?
Pro tip: If you have to pinch and squeeze to read the text or scroll from side to side to see the entire page, your website is not responsive!
If you’re not happy with the responsiveness of your site, work with your web designer to better optimize your page for mobile. This might mean resizing images, cutting down on text, hiding certain elements of the page on mobile, or other tactics.
2. Title Tags
The title tag is the HTML element that specifies the title of a page, and it’s the headline for the listing in the SERP (search engine results page). It’s important for this element to be optimized because it can increase click-through rate, which in turn can increase your search engine ranking. It’s also the first impression searchers get of your site, and you want it to match their search intent and give them the information they need to click through to your site.
Elements of an effective title tag:
- The ideal length for a title tag is about 60 characters (search engines actually use pixels as opposed to character count to determine how much of the title shows up, so this number is not exact but is a great guideline).
- Why does it matter? You don’t want the title tag to get cut off and only show part of the picture. Remember to think about how it will display on different screens (desktop vs. mobile, for example).
- It should be specific and descriptive. You want to use locations and keywords in a way that reads naturally and tells customers what this page is about.
- Each page should have a unique title tag to avoid confusion for readers and search engines.
- The title tag should match the query and the content on the page! If your title tag says “Maui snorkeling tours | [your company name],” the content on that page shouldn’t be about snorkeling tours on Oahu.
Pro tip: Don’t overdo it on the keywords! Focus on your primary keywords for that page.
How to craft your title tags:
- The general format for your title tag should be [description of page using keywords] | [your company name]. You can use pipes (|), colons (:), or dashes (-) as your separators; just make sure you’re consistent across your website with whichever you choose.
- On your homepage, the format will be a little different: [company name] | [what and where] (here you would use keywords like “Sightseeing Tours in NYC”).
3. Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are brief summaries of what a page is about that appear in the SERP. While they don’t influence search engine rankings, meta descriptions play a big role in helping click-through rates by telling searchers what a page is about, incorporating keywords, and enticing clicks.
How to create effective meta descriptions:
- Meta descriptions should be unique to each page (no copying and pasting!) to avoid any confusion if you have multiple pages that show up for the same search term(s). Each of your pages should have a unique purpose, which should be reflected in the meta description.
- They should be clear and enticing. If you’re writing a meta description for an activity page, it should provide a brief summary of the activity or tour and entice readers to click.
- The optimal length is 150-155 characters. They typically get cut off after 155, so if you go longer, anything above 155 won’t be visible in the SERP. On the other hand, if it’s too short, you’re missing out on opportunities to include keywords or CTAs.
- Every meta description should have a CTA (call to action) telling readers what they should do next:
Book now! Reserve today. Learn more. Book before it sells out!
- Even though meta descriptions are not considered a ranking factor, they should still include keywords. These are bolded in the SERPs, showing searchers that your page has the information they were looking for when typing their query.
4. Alt Text
Alternative text is an HTML attribute that uses a word or phrase to describe each image on your site. This is incredibly important for accessibility on your site. When visually impaired visitors are browsing your site, alt text allows them to understand the content and nature of your images. This is also the text that is displayed if your image can’t be loaded. As a bonus, this is one additional place when you can insert relevant keywords.
How to create effective alt text:
- Ideally, you want to tell users as much as you can about the image using as few words as possible (about 75 characters max.). For example, if you have a photo of your customers enjoying a boat tour, your alt text might say “boat tour on the Na Pali Coast.”
- While this is a good place to insert relevant keywords, you don’t want to keyword stuff (use too many keywords in a way that doesn’t read naturally). In fact, if there are no keywords that make sense naturally with the image, don’t try to force them.
Pro-tip: You don’t need to include words like “image of” or “picture of.” Use your characters wisely!
The H1 is the first heading on your page, describing the topic of the page for readers and for search engines. The H1 is one of the most important ranking factors, helping search engines understand what the page is about. There should only be one H1 per page.
How to craft a good H1:
- Make sure it’s as descriptive as possible.
- Incorporate only the main keywords for that page.
- Make sure it matches the content of the page. If your heading is “Segway tours in Arizona,” the page should have a general description of the tours offered and all the activities related to Segways in Arizona.
On your homepage, the H1 should always be the name of your company. On activity pages, it should be the name of the activity. On other pages, the H1 can vary. Just make sure it describes the content of the page.
6. Site structure, conversion flow, and UX
To engage users, build trust, and convert them into customers, it’s important for your site to have a consistent and logical structure, an easy-to-follow conversion flow, and be built with the user’s experience in mind.
You want all the most important pages on your site to be easily accessible. To accomplish this, make sure your site structure is logical and well-balanced. The structure should have somewhere between two and seven main categories, all listed on the menu at the top of the site, with the subcategories nested underneath. Don’t hide any important pages (namely pages where customers can book) deep into the menu structure. Make it easy for customers to find the information they need to book!
User experience, a.k.a. UX, relates to the way in which a user interacts with and responds to a website. Users want to be able to navigate your site instinctively, finding things exactly where they expect them to be (for example, they’ll expect to find your contact information in the footer). By keeping your user in mind when organizing your site, you can also help rankings. Search engines like sites that have good UX because they keep users on the site longer.
Ideally, you want your visitors to land on your homepage, visit your all activities page and browse your offerings, click on the activity they’re interested in, and book. Create a clear path that takes your users easily from one page to the next by using buttons and CTAs.
When customers land on your homepage, give them the option to get right to your offerings with a button that has a CTA like “Browse All Activities.” For example, on FareHarbor’s website, you’ll see a “Get a Demo” button featured prominently on the homepage. You don’t want your customers to spend too much time trying to figure out how to book, or they’ll eventually give up and go back to their search. A clear flow is crucial to keeping visitors on your site and leading them to the ultimate goal – making a booking.
Engaging content is the lifeblood of any website and an important part of the user experience. The copy on your website should be honest, have a clear structure, cover all relevant details, and be free of errors. To optimize your content, follow these simple tips:
- Use compelling headings that get your visitors excited about your activities. This is a great opportunity to get creative.
- Be consistent! If you choose title case (capitalizing every important word) for your headings, continue to use it throughout the entire site. If you choose to align your paragraphs to the left, do so throughout the site.
- Use anchor links, CTAs, and hyperlinks to get the user back on the conversion flow (for example, on your about us page, add a button that takes them back to the all activities page).
Want to learn more about content? Check out our guide on creating content that your customers, and Google, want or learn more about keyword do’s & don’ts!
8. High-Quality Images
Using high-quality images that represent your brand and visualize the experiences you offer helps to build trust and increase conversions. To ensure that your images look great on any screen, make sure to follow the following size guidelines:
- Banner images (large images used in backgrounds or headers): min. 1600px wide, 900 px high
- Content images (smaller images used within the page, like staff photos on the about page): min. 500px wide
It’s always best to use images that show people enjoying your tours or activities. This gives potential customers a better idea of what your tours or activities entail, and it gets them excited to have as much fun as the people in your photos! If you don’t have access to high-quality photos of your tours, try searching for high-quality stock images that depict your general location or activities.
Pro tip: Make sure the content of your image has plenty of space on the top and bottom. Images are often cropped to accommodate different screen sizes, and you want the main content to be visible no matter what.
Keeping Your Site Optimized
The world of website optimization and SEO is constantly evolving. As Google learns what users want, they often make small adjustments to their algorithm (read our Google algorithm guide for more on this!). This means that your website can’t remain stagnant. It’s important to audit the elements listed in this guide to make sure they continue to perform. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can keep track of which pages are getting traffic and which aren’t and make changes accordingly, like updating the title tag, H1, etc.
There are many elements to a successful site, and they’re not all listed in this guide. Use this as a starting point, but stay up to date on what you can do to improve your site’s performance. We can’t guarantee that these changes will get you a top spot on the SERPs, but these best practices are a great place to start.
Ready to learn more about how to make your website stand out? Check out our other website guides!