Don't Let SEO Destroy Your Business
May 17, 2015
We all know how important it is to rank first in Google, right? A survey from MyLife shows that approximately 50% of all online users in the US trust Google.
From its beginning as a start-up company, Google’s mission has been to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful for everyone. There is no doubt they do that extremely well.
Since then, Google has bought various heavy patents and even entire start-ups to improve the quality of their services. Consequently, many brands invest enormous amounts in SEO to appear at the top of the Google search results. This leads to the issue of how search engines are an integral part of the modern business eco-system.
Many digital agencies try to place SEO on its own, unique pedestal. They give endless reasons Why businesses have to consider it as an essential part of their marketing strategy. Most of the experts from these agencies are committed to the general premise of How optimization will increase Qualified Traffic (leads and conversions), improve ROI (which can be very difficult to determine beforehand), give competitive advantage and raise awareness among potential customers. The main purpose is simple – more profit for the businesses. And that’s all good, but it is also very important to remember the risks of not delivering a digital platform that is well optimized for search engines. This is where the long-term relationship must be manifested. It’s hard to convince a business to pay extra hours if not provided with clear and understandable arguments. Therefore, my question is pretty simple: Do you know the risks of NOT having a properly optimized website for search engines from the moment it goes live? If the answer is ”No”, please read on. As the great British novelist Bram Stoker once wrote, ”We learn from failure, not from success”.
The Site that forgot SEO
To start things off, let’s imagine that you have briefed your digital agency about the new corporate, product or e-commerce website you want to build. You shed some light on how you imagine the website will look like from a design and UX perspective, what features you want (such as IA, menus, categories, rich media formats, etc.) and you choose a suitable CMS. Then after many meetings and nights without sleep, you have your website ready for deployment, the last bugs from the test environment are fixed and it goes live. Congratulations! You have a brand new website that probably won’t even get 5% of the overall online share of searches looking for your type of products and services through search engines. Basically, you have a beautiful and well functioning website that nobody can find.
To give more sense to the scene, let’s imagine you have just opened a cosy restaurant in the beautiful mountain above the city. The food is fresh and delicious. The service is excellent. The view is breath taking. The place is heaven on Earth. There is only one problem- you haven’t built roads for people to come, discover and become ambassadors of your business. The result is that nobody would probably discover your restaurant. The same is valid for the world of search engines. Without any SEO-friendly infrastructure, search engines cannot find, index and rank your website. In some cases, this might be crucial for your whole business.
Slowly, you realize that all the great and useful content that you add to the website becomes invisible to search engines and thereby, potential customers. You will need to hire a SEO or digital agency to do a proper internal and external optimization to make your site visible. The problem is that you have probably spent the whole budget on building the website. Yes, you can do a lot of online advertising to compensate, but it also costs money. In addition, this is an old-fashioned push marketing approach that does not always result in qualified traffic like the pull marketing would. So what you can do? Is there a magical solution?
Yes- but there are two main conditions for that to happen. First, it’s time for a radical change in the mindset. SEO should no longer be considered a fancy add-on service to your website but instead, a must-have part of the building process. It’s the base without which no website should go live. And I am defining this as a first condition because if you don’t understand it now, you will allow the same mistakes tomorrow.
The SEO Quality Gate
The way to be sure that the platforms we deliver are SEO-friendly is to set a SEO Quality Gate for each separate project. Before every project goes live, we assess the platform to see if it justifies all requirements for a SEO-friendly solution. We do this by going through a well designed checklist based on previously gained knowledge and best practice. It guarantees that everything that may go wrong is checked and aligned to the search engines specifications. Thereafter, the website is ready to fly. And by fly, I mean fly high. Search engines can find it easily, index it properly and rank it accordingly.
The SEO Audit
The second condition is to implement a tool through which we can adequately assess the current SEO-performance and identify all problematic issues. The only solution to the problem that will bring true value is the SEO Audit. The SEO Audit is, again, a checklist based on many diverse questions that assess the current performance of the website. It provides us with a complete picture of the performance of a website in the search engines. Additionally, the output is a scorecard that ranks tasks based on importance and risk of not implementing certain changes. This tool not only determines the weak spots, but also prioritizes any further actions that should be considered. There are 7 Areas of Analysis that are covered through the SEO Audit process:
- Satisfaction Factor Analysis – using empirical data, the user’s satisfaction and relevancy to your website is determined. This shows how your website performs when it comes to User Experience. User experience is a factor that is considered as a main condition from Google when ranking a particular website.
- Keyword Assessment – gives information on the effectiveness of the keywords that your website is trying to rank for and the potential gaps.
- Onsite Elements Assessment – determines all problematic issues which we have complete control. This section is responsible for approximately 20% of the overall SEO-performance.
- Content Assessment – assessment of the overall content on the website and recommendations on how it can be enhanced to be more recognizable for search engines.
- Code Revision – while the code of a website is an essential part of its structure, it is made sure that it behaves accordingly.
- Backlink Profiling – the incoming links to a website can tell a lot about its online reputation and about the sentiment towards the brand around the web.
- Competitive Benchmarking – comparison of some of the online competitors of the brand, used as a proof statement to the clients.
Is your mind crowded with confusion? Don’t worry. It’s normal.
There are two main takeaways from this blog post.
- Next time you build a digital solution that should be easily discovered by search engines, you should consider implementing the concept of The SEO Quality Gate.
- If you are in a situation where you’ve already released an invisible website, the only solution is to perform a SEO Audit. It shouldn’t be as exhaustive as the above mentioned, but make sure you cover the most critical aspects such as:
- Duplicate Content
- Meta Elements