As someone who does website design, a field that is constantly changing, I do a fair amount of reading and traveling to learn more about my profession. I was recently at a search engine optimization (SEO) conference in California. I went there to learn more about how to help my clients’ find more success online. The technical side of SEO isn’t something I’ve spent a lot of time learning and I went there to get a start on remedying that.
While I did learn a lot about the technical side of search engine optimization in the 25+ sessions I attended over a 4 day period, it’s what I wasn’t told that really taught me the most. Google (and other search engines) aren’t in the market to force web designers to learn SEO, they just want a great experience for their users.
Does it make sense that the most technically optimized page is always going to land on top of every term that is searched online? No. Does it make sense that the page that is the most relevant will eventually work its way to the top of the list? It sure does. Google wants to give their users a great experience – they search for a term, they find it quickly. And while there are a lot of people competing for a lot of specific keywords and key phrases that are searched for – you can find success without scrapping your entire website design.
I tend to think in the mode that if it’s not working, maybe we should start with a blank slate. But while I realized there were a lot of things I was doing incorrectly with my own website design, I didn’t need to change everything. All I needed to do was think about what people wanted to get out of coming to my website.
This is one of those marketing ‘sales funnel’ types of conversations. Think about the typical viewer on your website. Are they there to learn about your profession, how you do it differently or how much you charge? While these could all be pages on your site – they are radically different questions. And your site has to be optimized to give them the information that they need at the right time. So if your home page has a bunch of blog articles, when all the user wants is a contact form or a phone number – you might be missing out on sales.
Thinking about how your users are viewing your site is very important. Take a look at your site through the eyes of someone who has never been there before. Now think of them in terms of the different rungs of the sales funnel. If I came to your site looking for pricing – can I find it? Or, if your site is informational in nature, can I find the information I need using a search field or categories to nail down what content I find relevant?
This is the holy grail, the question of all questions when it comes to small business owners with a new shiny website design. I can just hear them when I turn their new site over to them “Now What?”. The process of bringing new traffic to your site is never complete. A site that is huge today is dead tomorrow. The only way to continually bring in new traffic is through content. Creating great content that people always want to read is a surefire way to achieve success in a very competitive market these days. Then, and only then, will you establish a following that is constantly looking to you as an expert in your field and the money will surely follow.