[Ring, ring, ring…]
Web Designer: How may I help you today?
Client: I want a website.
Web Designer: Great. We can help you with that. Why do you want a website?
Client: So my company can be found.
Misconception #1: “Getting a new website means my business will finally be found online!”
An overwhelming majority of business owners believe that as soon as their website goes live, presto! They will start to be found.
If it were that easy, we would be out of business overnight. For better or for worse, there is a whole lot that goes into making a new website visible to search engines. There are millions of websites in your industry alone. There are probably at least tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, competing for the same space you are.
Let’s do a quick test.
Plug in the keyword that is important to your business, the one you think: “If we were only ranked on the 1st page of Google, leads would pour in”. Now, plug that keyword into Google and let’s see how many results are returned.
We’ve used “landscaping” in our example on the right. Holy moly! 161 million websites.
Ok, but perhaps you’re only interested in customers finding you in the Riverside area. Let’s refine our search. Yippee! Google found 1.2 million results.
Still a lot to compete with, right?
So, how can you ensure your website has a favorable ranking for those critical keywords? Here’s a great table that goes into great detail: Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Factors.
That’s a lot of stuff to make sure is being done correctly, right? We get it. Here are a few key areas to start with among all those contributing factors:
Know Which Keywords You Want to Rank For
Have a direction. Make a list. Plan it out.
Example: For the “about” page, we’re going to optimize the term “Best Los Angeles hot dog shop”.
Run through this exercise with all your pages. You may need to reach out to a consultant on how to know what keywords you should be targeting for each page. Another blog post on that topic coming up.
Keep a Cohesive and Consistent Message
The words on each page need to have a unified, targeted message. This means that the actual words and images that go onto the page need to have a unified voice targeting those defined keywords. Having one paragraph that is really just a lot of blah blah filler isn’t going to cut it. Conversely, over diversifying on one page can be detrimental. Don’t use too many keyword focuses on one page. Use your real estate wisely.
Example: Car cleaning products should not include one page talking about all the products. Diversify. One page for the wash, one page for the wax, etc.
The backend technical stuff needs to match what is going on each page. Too often, we see one generic phrase optimized across the entire website. Opportunities to optimize exist on the page titles, headers, and URLs. Tailor each to be unique to the copy of each page.
Misconception #2: “The web designer or web developer is going to optimize my site.”
Unlikely. Check your contract. Ask them. In our experience, and we attend several web design conferences a year, they don’t. This isn’t their area of expertise. It’s a totally different skill set.
In the case that your web designer or developer takes up the task, ask them how they’re going to optimize it. There are programs that can do it automatically and we’ve heard of some web designers using them, however, we have yet to find that these automated systems were successful. They typically just pull the title of the page and follow it up with your company name. It’s highly unlikely that that automation is going to be quality enough for Google. Lots of people and companies have tried to trick the search engines before–but it doesn’t work. It’s in your best interest to get proper optimization done for your website.
Misconception #3: “My site should be done in a few short weeks.”
Not if it’s being done right. There are companies that can get a quick template site up in a jiff. But if you’re looking for something that you can really build on, something that signifies your brand, the web designer or developer is going to work through the short- and long-term path for your website. It will take a little extra time and dollars on the front-end, but it’s well worth the dividends your site will provide. Plus, you won’t end up in the same boat again in two years.
Misconception #4: “My new, optimized site went live last week. I should be ranking.”
Refer back to that periodic table of SEO elements. One of the ranking factors is history. Let’s talk about time.
Time Factor 1: Crawling Frequency of Search Engines
Google bots crawl sites about once a month, assuming they know your site exists. If your new site is well optimized, it will typically take at least a month, sometimes up to three months, to get your site ranking well for your targeted keywords.
And remember, there’s a lot of competition out there. It’s a process, not a magic formula. Sometimes some of those other elements are missing, such as reputation on social media, a responsive site, meaningful content, vertical content such as links to news posts, videos, etc., or perhaps the history of your site.
Time factor 2: The History of Your Site
Back to the table. How long your site has been in existence also plays a role. Another important factor is if your site is viewed as authoritative, meaning are others sharing your content. These things play into the “trust” factor. Just as with building trust in real relationships, this is something that takes time and intent among the world of search engines.
Misconception #5: “My site is ranking great now. It’s going to stay that way.”
True, search engines like fresh content, so when your site is new, it will garner some relatively immediate attention from Google. You may see some favorable traffic and rankings, however, without proper management, that momentum is likely to fizzle out.
Remember how much competition there was for your keyword look up? Lots of your competitors are posting content regularly on social media channels and blogs, coming out with new products and services, and/or pushing out content in some way to position themselves as that trusted industry expert. Having a digital marketing strategy ensures long-term growth for your site and your business.
Invest In a Quality Team
The old adage “you get what you pay for” usually rings true, and definitely applies to web design. Getting a new website is an important investment in your business. In the right hands, it can do so much more than just exist. It can make you money. Think of it as an extension of your sales team.