David Jenkins and Chris Avery, founders and partners of digital marketing agency MickeyLlew, state that they are always stunned by big brands spending millions on their websites, while ignoring the role that search engine optimisation (SEO) plays in their overall marketing strategy.
In an increasingly digital business environment, your website is your most important tool for attracting customers, obtaining email addresses for further marketing activity and communicating important offers and information. Furthermore, people using Google tend to trust the top organic search results rather than paid ones (where anyone can feature with little effort). First page websites get 91.5% of Google traffic, while being top on page one nets you 32.5% of the traffic.
Getting Google to organically see your website before your competitors’ site is a delicate art and science that calls for a unique skillset. You wouldn’t call an electrician when the pipes connected to your geyser bursts or when you need to install a new one, but a plumber. While most electricians can repair the electrical element, they don’t fully understand the bigger picture of water management. Similarly, many developers might feel they have a good understanding of SEO but fail to recognise that it is a specialised discipline and not an add-on. They often miss important steps that would see their websites rank at the top in any given search.
Consider these four important points when planning to build and maintain your website so you give yourself the foundation required to rank well in organic search.
1. Choose the technology
We recently worked with a company that had spent a huge amount of money on a very slick website only to find, once it launched, that the language used to build it made it impossible for Google to index the site unless specific technology was introduced that would be a huge expense. They had to re-build the entire website from scratch, with a different language to solve this problem.
It’s too easy to get caught up in beautiful looking aesthetics that aren’t SEO-friendly at all. Make sure to pick a web development language that is easily crawled by Google. When in doubt choose tools and languages that are known to be crawler friendly – any of the tech solutions such as WordPress, Umbraco, Shopify, Magento will do the job, depending on your budget of course.
2. Ensure SEO is out the box
Whatever tech you use should offer the ability to handle all SEO requirements out of the box. This would include: URLs, Title Tags, H1s, Meta Descriptions, URL Redirects, as well as separation between URL, Title and H1 at a base level. This is just the tip of the iceberg and the complexities of search go far deeper but, many of these Content Management Systems (CMS) are designed with SEO in mind. This is because it is becoming a core requirement when selecting technology built to last and compete in the market.
3. Research and write content that works
We recently worked with another company that created pages talking about ‘home lending’, which was searched about 260 searches a day. We did some quick keyword research and changed the term to ‘home loans’, boosting the number of search results to 1900 per day. Using the right terms in your web content doesn’t have to be a guessing game. You can use tools like Moz, KWFinder, Keyword Tool, SERPS and many others to make sure that every word goes the extra mile in attracting the right eyes to your pages and further improving your exposure in the right places.
4. Find harmony in the team
A developer’s job is purely technical, ensuring that the core functionality works as required and aligns with the technical specification. However, this becomes more complex when you involve specialists from other areas (Front End, SEO, CRO, UX etc) and it’s common for specialists to disagree. The user experience (UX) person might want a certain functionality that the developer says isn’t possible or ideal.
The graphic designer might disagree with the user experience person putting too many buttons at the top of the page. Each of these people can miss the bigger picture, which is to drive traffic. Every part of a project needs to be done with this in mind, so the website is ranked at the top of every search associated with the brand, product or service. The SEO person can help ensure it is steered in the right direction.
While a multitude of different players are involved in building a website, it’s ultimately the channel owner who is responsible for the SEO, not the designer, or even the developer. It is up to you as an SEO manager to ensure that all the various technical people play nicely together and align with the bigger goal, which is delivering traffic, conversions and increasing the bottom line. Employing an SEO resource/consultant at the beginning may come with an additional cost, but in the long run it could save you millions and months in lost time, and more importantly, bring the right leads to your site, quickly.