My Website's Not Performing - Help!Is that a familiar cry for help? Something you are used to hearing?
I very often get clients who approach me with the above statement. They all have very different websites of different ages and different types. Almost without exception they are suffering from the same problem, they went "live" too soon.
Over the many years that I have been doing SEO audits for websites I found this common issue time and time again. I can understand why businesses make this simple error. They want to get their website online ASAP.
Often a new and exciting project like getting your company's first website creates a very real buzz. Sadly this buzz is more often than not a short-lived buzz.
Plan your website
I include the silly graphic because often business owners look at me with a blank expression.
It is of course, fine to approach an agency without a plan. Be aware that if you do, you are going to end up paying a lot more money for them to come up with the plan for you.
You know your business. So, you should potentially have an idea about who your target audience is. You also know what you want to sell or tell people about.
You should be able to make a rough plan of what your website will need to look like. Of course this plan can be tweaked in collaboration with your web agency, but try to formulate a basic plan.
Putting a plan together isn't just about the structure of the website,
It's also about the content.
Content is King, content is King, Content is King.
If you don't build decent content for your website, then in today's web, you are likely to face a long and winding road before you get so much as a sniff of success.
Plan your content.
- What is going on the site?
- Why is it going on the site?
- Does it need to be there?
- What purpose does it serve?
- Does it meet a basic standard?
Basic Content Rules.1) 300 words minimum for all articles.
2) Every product should have its own UNIQUE description where possible.
2) Do not fall back on the manufacturers descriptions
300 words per articleThree hundred words? I know that's going to put a lot of people off writing content already.
Most people don't want to write 300 words for their homepage, let alone articles.
Well people, It's a simple as this. It's YOUR website. If you aren't prepared to put in the work to make it rank, then don't expect decent results anytime soon.
By writing a decent amount of relevant copy you are giving your website a fighting chance. Start now, Once you have written one article, you'll feel better about writing the next one.
Unique Product DescriptionsIn the past I have practically had to fight with clients to write proper product descriptions. Time and time again I was seeing e-commerce catalogues with zero copy on product pages. when I queried the clients about this, I was met with indifference and complacency. The standard response was,
"Well, people have found the site so they'll find the product" or
"I simply don't have time to write product descriptions".
If you are a business owner and this sound's like you, let me spell it out for you. Your competitors CAN and most probably WILL find the time to write product descriptions, if it means beating your company to a bigger market share. Start caring about your business. He who dares, wins.
Avoid Manufacturer DescriptionsOften, businesses want to improve their product descriptions and even make a start. However, the scale of the task in front of them can be daunting and they fall back to what they mistakenly believe is the easy option. They add manufacturer descriptions.
A couple of years ago you could reasonably get away with this. You could find tens of sites selling the same products, with exactly the same product descriptions, word for word. Today, this tactic just wont work well. Google frowns upon duplicate content. So, if you set up a site that sells the same products as every other Joe in your field, write your own product descriptions. If you take the "easy option" more than likely , you'll be rewarded with a penalty from Google.
Basics - Get the code right
Crucial to getting in Google's good books is good code. Good code is akin to making your website physically healthy.
If you have a good framework, your site is more likely to be healthy and perform better in the search rankings for longer.
Check your Code is Valid
HTML Validation Service
Check your CSS is Valid
If your website generates errors when validated contact your agency for an explanation.
Sometimes a few errors are almost unavoidable and not too detrimental to your site. Lot's of errors will be bad for your site in the long run.
Many business owners will say that they don't know anything about code. That's a poor excuse. Remember this is your website. I say again "your website", get involved. If you just leave everything to your agency without having any knowledge of the processes they go through to build your site, then how can you hold them accountable if things go wrong?
A good agency will be getting you involved and explaining the processes as they go along. A good web design agency will actively seek your input, or at least notify you of their intentions.
These are what I consider to be the very basics of Website planning. I haven't even gotten to Images, Links SEO, or Social Media yet.