It’s not your fault — you’ve been conditioned to ask for it. It’s a buzzword you’ve heard over and over again. You’ve gone to workshops, you’ve read blogs, you’ve seen ads for it, you get spam through your website every day for it. “Rank #1!” SEO SEO SEO.
What if I told you SEO isn’t the be-all-end-all? Does that sound strange coming from an internet marketing company?
First let me be clear that SEO is important. If people can’t find your website when they do a Google search you are leaving a TON of business to your competitors. But just because your website ranks on Google’s coveted first page doesn’t guarantee success. We have plenty of companies come to us because they ARE ranking on the 1st page for relevant search phrases and getting lots of traffic — but they aren’t getting any business! How could that be? Poor usability and poor messaging are two top reasons people come to your website and leave without contacting you.
If your website is difficult to navigate or users can’t view your website properly on their device you are losing business. For example using Flash on your website prevents people using Apple devices from accessing those areas of your website. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website people who arrive on a smartphone will have a significantly higher Bounce Rate.
According to research done by Google, U.S. smartphone owners use their phones as follows:
– 96% use it at home
– 83% use it on the go
– 76% in a store
– 70% in a restaurant
– 69% at work
Often people do their initial research on their smartphones because it’s the most convenient place for them to do so. Which website would you rather browse on your smartphone in the screenshots above? The website on the right is missing out on a lot business. Guaranteed if you look at their Google Analytics the Bounce Rate is extremely high for people who arrive on their smartphone. (By the way I checked–they don’t even HAVE Google Analytics installed on their website!)
When people arrive at your website it needs to look professional, and it also needs to “sell” your company with the right messaging. Messaging is one of the most overlooked facets when companies have their websites redesigned. Why? Because they hire individual web designers instead of full service agencies that have the expertise to look at all aspects of your design and marketing. Web designers are traditionally trained in visual design, but not in marketing. If your website looks good but doesn’t succinctly explain your value and capabilities, you’re can’t differentiate yourself from your competitors when potential customers are comparison shopping.
Marketing your website online has become a multi-faceted affair, incorporating design, traditional marketing, search engine optimization, social media, paid advertising, content development, ecommerce and mobile. Any of these facets you ignore allows your competitors to get in front of your potential customers. That’s why rankings and SEO shouldn’t be the sole focus for your online marketing strategy.