Are you ready for SEO?
That seems like a silly question for anyone that has a website and the answer is most certainly an emphatic YES! Or is it?
It’s not as straight forward as it seems. You may have a website and you may be ready to implement a search engine optimization strategy, in fact you may even be looking to hire an agency or dedicate a full time salary and benefits to develop and execute the strategy.
The problem may be that your website isn’t ready for it or you may be looking at SEO as a quick fix for generating leads and gaining a competitive advantage.
Let’s start with the website. I run across a lot of websites that just aren’t ready to be optimized in their current state. Often-times the infrastructure is weak, or it’s built on a platform that no matter how much knowledge the SEO agency or individual has, the website stands little to no chance of rising in the ranks of the search engine results pages. All of the keyword research in the world isn’t going to drive traffic to a site that isn’t structurally optimized to incorporate the search terms.
Some examples of this include sites that are either built entirely in flash or have large important components of their website built in flash. Flash may be great for creating an engaging experience, but there are a lot of limitations when it comes to being indexed by the search engines, and if the content isn’t indexed it’s not going to show up in search results. The use of flash should be reserved for lesser important pages that you don’t need to optimize for natural search.
Another issue are sites that lack a clear information hierarchy or in other words category/sub category structure and if it does exist, it’s not available through global navigation. The information architecture or the way the site is organized is critical to the success of a search engine optimization plan and maybe more importantly, it’s critical to providing an excellent customer experience.
Poor site search functionality is also at the top of the list. One of my clients offers site search solutions as part of their portfolio. Based on their analysis of the activity on hundreds of clients they have found that:
- Site search accounts for over 30% of the activity on a website
- In over 40% of online purchases site search was a part of the shopping experience
- 80% of visitors will abandon a site as a result of a poor site search experience
- 95% of searchers never go past the first page of results
A good site search solution is one of the most important elements of a website and one that is poorly designed will undermine both the user experience and your SEO efforts. There are other possible issues such as the lack of ability to have important unique page elements such as title and meta description, missing sitemaps, and content that is limited to products and product information.
If any of these describe your current website, you may not be ready to implement an SEO or social media marketing strategy to drive traffic and promote content until the key structural problems have been addressed. Seeing results from a SEO takes time for even the most well established sites and is an ongoing process.
Another thing to consider is that websites with poor search solutions and are difficult to navigate have higher than average bounce rates and lower than average conversion rates which also contribute to how Google views your site. Sites with high bounce rates indicate a lack of relevant content and/or a good experience and will be less likely to make it to the top of someone’s search results.
Maybe the question isn’t whether or not you or your site is ready to for SEO, it’s determining how to prioritize what needs to be accomplished first.
Some things to consider before hiring an SEO agency or adding someone to your team:
- Does the person/agency you’re considering for the job have the skill set you need to guide you through the changes that need to be made (do they have proven experience in the area of website usability and design?).
- Do you have the budget and resources to make the necessary improvements to your website in conjunction with hiring an SEO resource?
- Do you know what skills you’re looking for? – many SEO professionals can assist with both your design and infrastructure needs as well as the ability to develop and implement an effective search engine marketing strategy.
Before you take the leap and hire someone to help, make sure they can provide you with a full and objective assessment of your overall environment and know more than how to find the best keywords.
Here’s a great resource for things to consider when hiring an SEO firm – the what, how, and who.
Is your site ready for SEO?