What happens when someone locks their keys in their car? They have to figure out how to get their keys out of their locked car and it delays them from getting to their destination. Although, it wasn’t intentional, their schedule has been altered. It’s the same way in the internet world. Companies make changes to their website, move pages, delete pages, but don’t make the corresponding adjustments to their search engine marketing campaigns. It’s an honest mistake, but one that can be costly.
What many companies don’t realize is that they are wasting money when they change their website pages and don’t adjust their search engine marketing campaigns. Their ads are showing and they are incurring cpc costs, even though their ads are going to an error page.
Think about it. It’s like a restaurant paying for a billboard on a busy interstate that says exit here for food. However, when people exit they end up at an empty building, with no sign that says we’ve moved to a new location. It’s a waste of money. Why pay for a billboard that directs people to the wrong location?
Another cost factor is losing trust and relevancy among searchers. Searchers don’t enjoy clicking on ads that lead them to an error page. It has no benefit for them. Some companies may remember to put in redirects on their websites that send searchers to the home page of their site, but it’s better to send searchers to a page on your website that is directly related to their keyword search. Although some searchers are persistent, a company can lose credibility if their ads consistently lead to error pages.
Error pages not only leave a bad taste in the searchers mouth, but also in the mouth of search engines. A company’s keywords and ads within their search engine marketing campaign can be disapproved by engines. This can be hurtful to the quality score and drive up a company’s cpc cost for keywords, which causes the company to incur unnecessary costs.
The solution to avoid costly mistakes is simple. If there are changes made to your website, especially in the naming of the web page, make sure the corresponding changes are made to your search engine marketing campaign. It is better to pause your campaigns temporarily to confirm that they match your website; than to run them with uncertainty, hoping that everything matches.
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.
When visitors land on your website, either through a pay per click ad, organic listing, or simply by typing your URL into Google, Yahoo or Bing, what do they see once they get there? In other words, does your site appear polished, professional and clean? Is it visually appealing and easy to navigate? Are the calls to action strong and do they create a sense of urgency to find out more about who you are/what you offer?
If you did not answer yes to all of the above questions, it is time to go back to the basics. Your website is a direct representation of who you are as a company and no matter what your industry, it ought to wow your audience and keep them coming back for more. You only have about five precious seconds to sway visitors before they make the decision to stay or leave. Below are a few factors to take into consideration when measuring how captivating your website is.
Visual Appeal – A site does not need tons of bells and whistles to be appealing. It should not be overcrowded; less is definitely more. An attractive color scheme can go a long way. An approach to consider is to utilize your brand and/or logo colors. This can be effective, especially if you are trying to create more brand awareness. Test out different backgrounds, font sizes, colors, images, etc. If it’s been over a year since the look and feel has been updated, try making some revisions. Hint: An outdated website looks outdated.
Navigation — Keep it simple. You want it to be as easy as possible for visitors to take a tour of your website. Make sure that all of your calls to action (i.e. download our latest whitepaper, fill out this contact form, view our recent case study, etc.) are above the fold on the page, which refers to the section that is visible without scrolling. No one likes to scroll – and few people will. It is also a good practice to have links to your important pages found at both the top of the site, as well as the bottom.
About Us — This page is super important, yet often overlooked. Who are you? How long have you been in business? What sets you apart from your competition? Why should a consumer buy a product or service on your site, rather than Joe Shmoe’s?
Contact Us — This link should be conspicuously located on each and very page of your site. No if’s, and’s or but’s.
Content — Some will arguably say that content is the most important part of any website. Searchers are “searching” for information, solutions to problems, answers to questions, products or services they want and/or need, etc. If your website does not provide them with what they are looking for, they are going to be off like a prom dress. ïŠ Your site should posses a nice balance of informative, relative and interesting content. Updating your content regularly is an excellent way of ensuring a fresh experience for searchers. SEO hint: Search engines love fresh content; kill two birds with one stone by pushing out new content, which will simultaneously help to give your organic rankings a boost.
An onsite blog is another great way to maintain new, relevant content. Articles and Optimized Press Releases are also beneficial and will keep your visitors interested; retaining them on your site longer. Hint: the longer they are on your site, the more likely they are to convert into a lead or customer.
Invest the time to evaluate your website on a regular basis and source members of your organization to do the same. The rewards of doing so will be well worth the time that you invest.