So you have a beautiful website. It’s aesthetically appealing; the color scheme is bright and attractive, the images stimulating and the navigation easy to use. It seems to have all the right ingredients, however, is your (beautiful) website getting the right message across to your visitors?
As part of my role as a Client Strategist at MoreVisibility, I work with a variety of clients from large corporations to small businesses, from Ecommerce to Lead Generation. I often look at their sites from a user’s perspective to provide tips to help them achieve better results. There are many sites I see on a daily basis that are quite amazing to look at, but lack the necessary components to get the visitor to the desired end result. Whether that end result is a completed transaction, online form, or request for more information, it is critical that your site speak correctly to your audience. What does that mean exactly? Here are a few examples:
If your site has Ecommerce functionality, more than likely your goal is for your visitors to make a purchase. You will want to ensure that it is almost effortless to find exactly what your customers are looking for and efficiently go through your shopping cart process; the less clicks to get there, the better. If someone is searching for a specific pair of shoes, send them to that page, rather than having to search around. Don’t make it mandatory to create an account; make it an option.
If your site is designed to generate leads, you should be looking to capture as much information from your searchers in an effort you are obtaining valuable leads. Having a clear call to action form on your site is the first step. The form page should be clean and concise with only the necessary information required. The form should be followed with a confirmation or Thank You page to signify that the form was filled out, information is on the way and/or a representative from your company will be in touch (it is helpful to notate the timeframe here. i.e. within 24 hours, etc)
Keep in mind that your website is a representation of you and your company! While it should obviously look beautiful, it is imperative that you get your correct message across simultaneously!
I must sound like a broken record when I suggest (much too weak a word) that my clients follow all of the above, specifically with respect to the big players in the industry: Google, Yahoo and MSN. Search Engines are smart; real smart. You might be able to pull the wool over their eyes in the short term, but eventually you will get caught if you try to utilize Black Hat techniques to gain better traction within the organic (free) results. Everyone wants to be #1 in Google for their core keywords, however, there is no way to get there (and remain there) other than by making your website as search engine friendly as possible. What does that really mean? In the simplest of terms, there has to be a high degree of correlation between the keywords you want to show up under and the actual content on your website. The more targeted and relevant the content, the better chance you have of achieving natural positions for the keywords that are mission critical to your business.
All of that being said, one of the most frustrating things for marketers is when they optimize their site for natural search, while strictly following the rules and guidelines set forth by the engines and employ White Hat techniques yet they (A) do not see significant progress being made and/or (B) see their competition showing up under their core keywords. Even worse, the competition is not following a Best Practices approach. In other words they are doing things that are heavily frowned upon by the engines, such as: keyword stuffing, duplicate content, redirects, etc. A couple of important things to consider: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) must be viewed as an ongoing process and it can take several months to reap the rewards of optimizing your site. The search engines are always changing their algorithms and therefore, it is crucial to view SEO as a long term commitment. Your competition might not follow a Best Practices approach and utilize Black Hat methods to “get ahead”. Just because they are not being penalized at present, does not mean that they will not get caught eventually. I recently had a client who saw their competition using Black Hat techniques and achieving great organic results. They decided to utilize the same techniques and were banned from Google as a result. The moral of the story is that the best things come to those who wait. If you optimize your site and “make nice” to the search engines, you will maintain a long term presence in the engines.
Title: Being White Hat Pays Off in the Long Run!
Description: Discussed the importance of following a best practices approach
Keywords: White Hat, Black Hat, Best Practices, Search Engines, Marketers, keyword stuffing, duplicate content, redirects, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Google, Yahoo, MSN.
I cannot count the number of times a client has said those exact words to me. Truth be told, if you want to maintain a long term presence online, it is absolutely essential that SEO be an ongoing process of adding new, search engine friendly content. Here are just a few of the many reasons why SEO should never remain stagnant.
SEO is a very dynamic industry; hence what was most valued as important in the eyes of the search engines one year ago, is no longer as important today. Google Page Rank, for example, is still deemed to be an integral part of a site’s natural positioning, however, is no longer the most mission critical factor. Today, the implementation of a Link Building Strategy is considered to be crucial in improving natural search. The engines (especially Google) are heavily weighing their organic results on how many relevant links a site has, as well as the manner in which these links are obtained.
Your competition is likely doing everything they can to surpass you online. Think of it this way: if you’ve ever hired (or even thought about hiring) an SEO agency to optimize your site, you are in a competitive industry and should deduce that your competition is doing the same. Your web site should be viewed as a work in progress; the more new and optimized content your site has, the more information the search engine spiders have to crawl. Think Blogs, Social Media, etc.
The search engines, specifically Google, Yahoo and MSN, like it when you play by the rules. Sure, there are a variety of ways to trick or fool the engines to gain better rankings in the short term. Rest assured, these tactics will catch up with you and could eventually lead to your site getting banned from the engines. We, at MoreVisibility, always adhere to a best practices approach, follow the rules set forth by each engine and advise our clients’ to do the same.