Online marketing isn’t something that businesses can afford to consider any more. It needs to be an integral part of your overall marketing strategy and your company website should be the epicenter of these efforts.
Jenny Servis, Vice President of Marketing for marketing solutions company SnapRetail explains the importance of a company website best,
“Ten years ago it may have been a choice to jump on the online bandwagon, but now it’s an absolute must to survive and thrive as a business. With over 85% of searches for products and services happening online, it’s just a “duh” at this point.”
People are also now using the help of professional agencies to not only design their websites but also make them more visible in the search engine pages. Andrew Ruditser, the owner of Maxburst, one of the many New York based web design firms out there, understands the importance of keeping SEO in mind when building a website. Speaking about one of his recent projects he says
“When we built them a custom site, we had a lot more control over not just the design, but a lot of the programming that was put into it, and we put a lot of marketing into it.”
It’s clear that a website on its own is not enough anymore and SEO is a big part of the game.
What we know about SEO
Everyone in marketing has heard the term SEO enough times that a definition isn’t really necessary. How it works, on the other hand, is left up to debate. Some ranking factors seem to be in an ongoing state of flux while others remain constant. One thing that is for sure is that SEO cannot be an afterthought when it comes to your company website. When you are designing, or redesigning, your company website SEO needs to be woven into the plans from the very beginning. Most professional web design firms understand this and will insist on having these talks in the initial planning stages. Some of the things they should have in mind are as follows.
The right mobile strategy
Data shows that people spend more screen time on mobile devices than they do on their desktops nowadays so it makes sense that your website be mobile friendly. But which route do you take? You can opt for a dynamic serving strategy that serves up different HTML depending on the device the visitor has. Another strategy is to use a separate URL, such as m.example.com, that directs mobile users to pages specifically designed for their device.
If you want to make Google, and the other search engines happy, then you are going to want to use responsive web design. With this technique, your site is built to detect the screen size of the visitor’s device and respond to it. Your web pages stretch and compress without losing any content. Unlike the other two strategies, your URL and your HTML stay the same with responsive design so there is no duplicate content and the optimization efforts aren’t duplicated or lost by having multiple URLs.
Creating a site that is easy to navigate has two benefits when it comes to search engine optimization. First of all, if your visitors have trouble finding what they are looking for they are going to leave your site. This gives your site a higher bounce rate and the search engines are going to take notice. Conversely, if visitors can navigate through a site without any problems the search engines are going to recognize that site as one that offers up good information. These metrics are crucial in today’s SEO efforts.
Secondly, your site’s navigation has a direct effect on how easily a search engine spider can crawl your site to find content. If there are links to every page on your site, the search engines will have an easier time indexing everything your site has to offer. Think of it this way, if Google can’t index a page on your site then it won’t show up on the results page so you want to make sure that you do everything you can to nudge those spiders towards all of your content.
There is a reason you have a professional web designer build your company’s site and that is because you want to offer your visitors a good experience. Let’s face it, anyone can fire up their web design software and buy a template to get a site up and running, but this strategy isn’t going to give your visitors what they want. Care needs to be taken to ensure your site provides a good user experience by:
Being easy to navigate
Being accessible to all types of visitors
Focusing on content
Having a clean, well organized layout
Make your URLs work for you
The best in the web design business understand how important your URL structure is to SEO so when they are building your site, they take care with this to give you the most benefit. For starters, your URLs should be readable by humans. This means that those dynamic URLs that make your address look like www.example.com/posts/id=3432? need to be avoided, and leave out all of the weird punctuation marks. Use real words, actually use your keywords if possible; just don’t overdo it. Another thing to remember is that shorter is better so those long titles or folders upon folders aren’t helping your site rank higher with the search engines. You can even leave out the stop words and separate with hyphens or underscores. Finally, make sure to canonicalize your URLs that host duplicate content using a 301 redirect or the rel=canonical tag.
If you site is built with a good foundation in SEO you are going to find that it is much easier to gain the maximum results from your other optimization efforts. You can also be assured that using best practices when it comes to SEO and you web site design will provide you with an evergreen strategy that won’t send you scrambling to make changes the next time Google updates their algorithm.
Ayrald is a Senior Analyst at Clutch. Previously, Ayrald worked in the financial industry in the United States and Europe. Ayrald is originally from France and regularly returns to his native country during the year to feast on pastries and “fromage”. In his free time, he enjoys studying up on marine life, specifically sharks, and playing soccer with his friends. Ayrald received his Bachelor’s Degree from Georgetown University.