When you visit Google or any other search engine and type in keywords that are important to your business, do you see your listings anywhere on page one? If your answer is yes, great — keep up the good work! If your answer is no, it’s time to consider (or reconsider in this case) your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. When was the last time you reviewed your website from an Organic perspective? If your site is not optimized for the most important and relevant keywords, then you will not likely show up when someone searches for them. This is not to say that all you have to do is add some content to your site and poof — there you are, #1 in Google! Sorry, but that isn’t going to happen. Unlike paid search, which can garner results almost instantly, organic search takes time, patience and a knowledgeable team of SEO Engineers, who are well versed in the industry.
First, you will need to determine where your site is lacking in terms of being “Google Friendly”. We have created a rather robust document called our Search Engine Optimization Review, which I typically like to describe as a website report card. Here is how it works: Our SEO Engineers carefully review a site and provide a detailed written analysis, complete with prioritized action items, in order to get your website in better shape for organic search. This Review will look at every aspect of a website that matters to the search engines and ultimately affects rankings. Just a few topics that are focused on during this Review: domain configuration, navigation structure, content optimization, inbound and outbound link structure and much more.
No matter which tactics you employ, be sure to always follow a Best Practices/White Hat approach. In other words, do not ever do anything to trick or fool the engines. This approach is known as Black Hat and it will backfire eventually if not immediately. If you do decide to outsource your efforts to an agency, I encourage you to dig deep into their reputation, knowledge and experience as an SEO firm to ensure that they are not engaging in any tactics that would be considered unacceptable by Google or the other engines.
I sometimes feel as though we’re all so focused on a website being search engine friendly that we easily lose site of the importance of it being user friendly, as well. It can be a difficult balance to cater to both the user and to the search engines (namely Google and Bing ). The perfect scenario is to have a website that is both visually appealing to the user, while simultaneously being SEO friendly. Sounds like it would be an easy thing to accomplish, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. Far too many websites have one and not the other.
So how do you end up with a website that has both? The best way is to start from the ground up. You’ll want to ensure that you have a qualified SEO Engineer working in conjunction with a skilled Web Designer. I have seen many instances where a client hired a snazzy design firm that built a beautiful looking website with bells and whistles galore, only to find that it could not be any less SEO Friendly if it tried. Typically what happens next is the client then has to “backtrack” and do their best of optimizing the site after the fact, since their finished product was not designed with the search engines in mind. In hindsight, it would have been very helpful to have an SEO Agency involved from the beginning and throughout the development of the new site. This approach can also help you save time and money by combining SEO with design rather than tackling afterwards, which can be a frustrating and more expensive way to go.
If you are in the process of a website redesign or designing one from scratch, I strongly encourage you to consider both the user and the search engines from the onset. This will negate any obstacles of the search engines not being able to effectively crawl through your site and/or the end user not having a satisfactory experience. Think about it this way: If your site shows up well organically, but when a user gets there he has trouble with the navigation and can’t find what he wants…then your SEO friendly efforts are, in a sense, a waste.
All of the websites we design are completely optimized for the search engines, while still taking into account the user’s perspective, as well. If you’d like to peruse some of our previous work, please visit our Design Portfolio Page.
Wouldn’t it be totally amazing IF…you optimized your website to be perfectly aligned with everything that the search engines (namely Google) wanted? Then, almost like magic, your efforts were instantaneously rewarded with top positions on every keyword that mattered to you? Amazing – yes. Realistic – hardly. Rome was not built in a day and neither is top organic placement. This is one of the most challenging things to explain to a client who wants results yesterday and quite frankly, who doesn’t? We’ve all become so used to instant gratification that we don’t find it acceptable to have to wait for anything, especially when it comes to the free positions in Google. Although, I always try to set the right expectation, patience is not one of my best attributes and I feel their pain when clients expect to see northward shifts in positions immediately, but don’t.
Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to “speed up the process” and the way in which Google determines positions (aka their algorithm) can shift and change. As a result, your website should not remain stagnant and will never be 100% optimized, but more like a work in progress, with ongoing tweaks along the way. It would behoove you to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible with respect to what Google is currently (currently being the important word here) looking for when determining rank, as well as identify how Search Engine Friendly your website is. This exercise is one of the first steps our SEO Engineers take when a new client comes through the door for SEO. Commonly referred to as “the cornerstone of our Natural Search Program”, our Website Optimization Review is — for lack of better words — a report card on your website from an organic perspective. In addition to multiple other factors, it will address these four primary areas of optimization: Technical, Design, Content and Marketing. After providing a score of how your site ranks (per the current standards of Google) a priority list rounds out the Review, which pinpoints where your efforts should be placed in prioritized order.
When it comes to SEO, no matter what your path, it is advisable to gain a clear understanding of what Google is looking for and where your site is lacking before trying to optimize it, as you could do more harm than good. One example that comes to mind is Domain Trust. Often, clients will want to change their domain name to make it “sound better” or “be catchier”. This would not be a recommended practice if you’ve had the domain for 5+ years, as it’s likely to be considered a trusted domain by the major search engines. Trusted domains typically rank higher in the SERPS so you might want to think twice before changing it.
Everyone wants prominent placement in Google for their core keywords and everyone seems to want it to happen overnight. Invest the time in your website and be patient; the fruits of your labor will pay off over time.