The Honest Truth about your New Website’s SEO
December 2, 2017//1,313 words
I recently gave a presentation about search engine optimization to a group of non-profit professionals. While I was prepared to do all of the teaching, I wasn’t expecting to be the one learning!
I learned the following:
- A large portion (perhaps the majority) of people out there don’t know that they should knowabout SEO.
- Business owners and company executives trust that their website designer is going to be able to set them up for SEO success.
- A small to mid-size company will pay thousands of dollars in Adwords before realizing the power of organic search results.
Now, I had some theories about these in the past, but to talk passionately with these people about SEO and see their eyes opened up to the possibilities was incredible.
So, how did we get to this point?
Well, for starters, I don’t expect you to be an expert on search engine optimization. You’re busy running your business! I would advise you to educate yourself as much as you can on such things as SEO so that you won’t be taken advantage of – but that’s why you’re on my blog!
I want to talk about what you can expect from your web designer, how your website typically looks if you have never considered SEO to this point and the possibilities that you will have going forward with proper website optimization.
So you hired a web designer …
… and your website looks great, right? One thing I am quick to admit is that there are many people who can build a site more beautiful than I ever could.
Your site has great features. A new logo. Killer animations.
You just know that your website is going to bring in all sorts of business for you. However, have you thought about how you’re going to do your website’s marketing?
You see, in the past, a company’s website WAS marketing. But now, your website is your home – your store front. How are people going to find out about it?
Maybe you have a great social media presence. That’s great – you’ll likely reap the rewards of high traffic going to your website.
Perhaps you’re willing to pay for online advertising. That’s fine – but it’s going to cost a lot over time.
Here’s a tried and true statistic:
The quality of traffic that you gain from social media and online advertising is 10 times less likely to make a purchase or conversion than traffic from SEO and organic search results.
One thing to keep in mind is that your web designer is not a marketer. He or she is a graphic designer, artist or programmer.
I work with these professionals and they are experts in the field that they are in, but marketing is secondary, and that’s fine.
Web designers know that each page should have a page title.
This is the top line that you see from a search result.
Web designers will declare a page title such as the name of your business, your city and state, or even your phone number. Why is this a bad thing? Because your page title should describe your page and introduce you to strangers. If someone is searching for the name of your business than that means they already know about you. You don’t need to go after this traffic. Why would you list your phone number? No one is going to type your phone number into the search bar in order to find you or the products that you sell.
You see, it’s very important that you develop a strategy and perform research to set the perfect title tag for every page on your website. It’s not just a placeholder – it’s a sales opportunity.
Web designers know that each page should have a meta-description.
The meta-description is the 2 to 3 sentences below the title and URL in your search result.
Again, this is not a placeholder. This is your elevator pitch to entice your audience to click on your result!
Often, the meta-description is derived from whatever was put in the title tag for that very page. How is that going to benefit you or increase the chances of someone clicking on your result? It clearly isn’t.
Some web designers know that they should submit a sitemap of the completed site to Google.
Your website’s sitemap is basically a word or text document listing all of your site’s URLs.
Google will crawl your website … eventually. However, if you submit a sitemap to Google, then they will have all of your pages, all of your links and the speed at which your website will be indexed by Google and shown in search results will increase dramatically.
Web designers aren’t concerned with on-page SEO practices.
This includes such things as heading tags and image scaling.
You see, the project for a web designer is to make everything look amazing. And many do a tremendous job (again, way better than me!). However, they are overlooking important on-page SEO methods in order to achieve these designs.
A header (larger text at the top) is extremely important for Google to crawl for page relevancy. And image scaling is equally important because your images shouldn’t be any bigger in file size than needed to produce a great user experience. If your images are too large, your website will load slowly which will diminish your user experience, return high bounce rates and be a red flag to Google.
Web designers don’t think about duplicate content.
Now sure, your web designer is not going to create the same page twice. But if they use any sort of CMS platform like WordPress or Joomla then there is likely a decent to large amount of duplicate content on your site.
Why? Because plugins and widgets duplicate your site’s content when they are installed.
That’s ok – because plugins and widgets make our lives easier. However, that duplicate content needs to be resolved after the fact.
Also, does your website display in your address bar as more than one of the following?
If so, then you have duplicate content. It should be declared in your .htaccess file which “version” of your address you want all others to forward to.
Duplicate content is a negative because if you have a web page about a certain product, Google won’t know which specific version that you want to rank highly. So therefore it will likely spread the love over every different version that it sees and therefore your pages will compete with one another – and you will lose.
These are just a few of the many things that your website designer doesn’t know. Again, they are not a marketer so it’s ok if they don’t, but now you know so that you can make the right adjustments for your site and start reaching that high-quality organic traffic.