Sorry to put it so bluntly; hope I got your attention.
My anger finally got the better of me the other day looking over another client’s website.
I thought to myself: Are there actually any web design companies out there with at least the slightest clue about search engine optimization or do they just not care?
No matter how “pretty “you think is website is, it all doesn’t matter if nobody finds your site.
Let’s address a couple of very basic key points you should address with your web design company. (If they have no idea what you are talking about – run fast and run far.)
They are only a couple of basic elements on a webpage that search engines will take into consideration when determining how relevant the site is whenever somebody types in a search term.
Let’s assume you sell “red shoes” and naturally you very much would like your site to show up at least on the first page somewhere.
It doesn’t matter your “pretty “your site looks – if the search engine doesn’t think it’s relevancy to “red shoes ” it’s not going to show up anywhere.
Search engines can only “look “at a couple of basic things on your website. The CANNOT see how pretty it is and in general they can’t images at all.
Basic elements each website needs to have:
1. Title Tag – each website is written in code ( there are several out there ) but no matter which code is being used they all have the ability to insert a tag that’s called a title tag : i.e. <title> red shoes</title> could be the title tag for a page about red shoes.
Without it you basically stand zero chance to show up for a search term.
2. Meta description – similar to the title tag you can use this tag to tell the search engines and your visitors what your web page is all about. Don’t go overboard here; 2 – 3 short sentences are all you need.
3. Keyword tags – funnily that’s seems to be the one most widely known ( I guess stemming back to the dark ages of search engine optimization when you could just ” stuff ” as many keywords as possible in that tag. ) That’s precisely the reason Google for example almost entirely discounts the presence or content of keyword tags. In other words it has almost become completely obsolete. (If your web design company proudly boast to you that they will put as many keywords as possible on your site – do the running thingy again )
4. Text – call it text call it content, call it whatever you like – just make sure it’s on your page. I know it often clashes with the “pretty thing ” . Make it relevant to the title or subject your page is all about.
I.e. having a page titled “red shoes ” but all the text is about ” white wedding dresses : won’t give you many brownie points with the search engines.
And No – flash doesn’t count as ” text”. You might be able to read it – search engines can’t.
4a. Keyword Density – a measure how often your keywords show up in relation the overall amount of text – Popular notion nowadays is that it’s not important – well popular notion is wrong – we’ve tested it. We’ve had jumps in ranking by several hundred spots by simply adjusting the keyword density on a page. Challenge is that there is no set number what’s required. It varies wildly from market to market.
After all that is in place we can talk about design. I am talking about design that is geared towards having the customer perform a specific action. It’s not about bein pretty.
On average you have 10-15 seconds before your visitor decides to take another action on your site or hit the back button.
Take a look at this eye tracking heat map. The dark red areas are the ones that are being scanned and clicked on the most.
These actions vary from business to business. If you have an ecommerce store you want to make the transaction as painless as possible. I.e. easy to find order button – prominent displayed logos from the BBB – shipping cost displayed etc. etc.
If you are a local doctor’s or dentist office – make it easy for them to contact you – make you phone number the most prominent thing on your page – don’t hide it shamefully in a corner or worse in the footer of the page.
When it comes to human behavior – everybody behaves like a 5 year old (I do – You do it) we are not reading – we are scanning. We are drawn to bullet points. We follow arrows. We like bolded text.
Don’t think your clients are “too sophisticated “for that kind of behavior. We tested 2 links:
Red Shoe Selection
CLICK HERE RED SHOE Selection
The second link got clicked on 5 times as much as the first one, because we told them what to do (CLICK HERE)
In short: First make sure to give yourself the advantage by using all the tags that are available to you. Secondly make sure your website is easy to use for your visitors.