Over the past year we have had a massive increase in leads for our range of online marketing services, especially from Ireland. The recession has really done a number on the SME and most are starting to think smart, because they have to. This has led them to look more and more to the online face of their business and many are shocked that their competition who put int he effort earlier on are way ahead of them in the online space.
In a lot of cases, it is no longer good enough to have a lot of inbound links OR a good looking website. You need both. There is also no point in having a website number one in the search results for a keyword if the traffic it brings just will not convert on your dated website. While constant hacking away at an already poor website may bring temporary relief, it’s just a band aid and will eventually be untenable.
Trent over at Blizzard Internet makes a very good point about how all the SEO tactics in the world can’t help a poor website. He goes into some detail on the stats but this jumps right out and should be highlighted.
… Sometimes they want to discuss SEO and are not open to discussing the overall problems with their website. Forget SEO for a moment, and consider that doubling the visitors to your website still won’t be profitable if your website doesn’t convert. It is the definition of throwing good money after bad… This hotel doesn’t need more SEO! They need to lower their 43% bounce rate AND improve their 0% conversion rate. They need a better booking engine.
Some web designers can even do a lot of damage to their clients online business if they don’t have at least a basic understanding of what I call “Core” seo. Adam has a great post on dangerous web design here where he states:
So what is there to learn from all this? At a minimum, this situation illustrates that knowledge of SEO is critical for anyone running a web design/development firm. But I would argue that this isn’t even SEO — it’s basic web 101. To think that companies are operating without this knowledge, and doing their clients real harm, is a little scary.
The emphasis above is mine because I think that is exactly what Eoghan and Ken were trying to get across in the SEO is Bullshit post here. While I do nott agree that SEO is bullshit (Bill pretty much put that to bed in his excellent “10 SEO Questions” post), I DO see their point. “Core” SEO is basic webmastering and web design 101. You’ll find it very difficult to make a website made completely with images or flash against a competitor with a well designed, standards compliant, accessible and structurally comprehensive website with logical internal linking and basic best practices kept in mind.
To all you small business owners considering getting a website built and asking yourselves “Do I need to redesign my website to rank in Google?” please remember to ask your web design company or web designer what they are doing to make sure your website is search engine friendly. To all you small business owners considering getting SEO “done” to an existing site, consider what I said above. All the SEO, inbound links or fantastic content in the world wont help you if you have a terribly inaccessible site.
This post may seem a little self serving but more and more we are not only having to redesign clients websites , but insisting on it. (We have now merged our web design service with our other offerings to be more in line with this idea). So before you even consider having an SEO company work on your site, make sure it’s ready to be worked on or it might end up costing you a lot more in the long run.
Finally, in relation to inbound links, a really good website design that pays attention to both style and standards can obtain a massive influx of high quality links and traffic by being included in the plethora of web design and CSS showcase galleries. These can be a huge boost to site authority and give a much need initial boost to any SEO efforts.
* This will be the final semi-self serving post of the year :) What do you think of the new design?