When launching the Blake Design website, I spent countless hours researching and implementing SEO strategies, for the site. For the uninitiated, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, these techniques are designed to help improve your search engine rankings. The better your SEO techniques, the higher your site will appear in the search returns on Google or Bing. Yes, there are other search engines, but that’s beside the point.
Most SEO strategies tend to focus on ‘Titles’, Keywords’ and ‘Content’. And while there’s nothing wrong with getting those things right, I have to ask, why bother? What I mean is, a higher ranking may drive users to your site, but if they’re not hanging around and ultimately becoming customers, then you’re wasting your time. Truth is, if your visitors aren’t hanging around then your rankings will suffer anyway.
So, are you driving visitors to your site, only to send them away — kicking and screaming — as soon as they arrive? That’s like inviting guests to a dinner party and stabbing them as they arrive. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but you get my point. All of the SEO strategies in the world, may get you found, but they can’t make your website successful. The question is, what can be done about it?
Literally, there are hundreds of reasons why your site may fail: it takes forever to load, it requires additional plugins to work, it only works in certain browsers… the list goes on and on. However, I want to run through some less-technical reasons why your website might be failing and hopefully help you decide if your site needs help.
1. Your website looks unprofessional.
The stabbing scenario — mentioned earlier — may be an exaggeration, but compared to the visual assault that some of you subject your visitors to, it’s not far off the mark. We’ve all seen websites which look and perform horribly — the internet is replete with them. But unless you’re a teenager or you actually want your business to fail, you don’t want your site to be counted among them. Remember, a professional website = TRUST.
2. Users can’t find the content they want.
Users want information and they want it fast! They don’t want to have to hunt for it. The quicker and more precisely you provide that information, the more likely a user is to trust your site and thereby your business. Websites are intended to provide information and solve needs — that’s it.
3. Your site lacks focus.
It is true that users go to your site to find information and get it quickly. But that doesn’t mean that everything needs to be on the front page. If your site lacks focus, then you’re probably turning away customers. The old design axiom — when everything is important, nothing is important — still applies.
4. Your site is all about you. (This is a two-fold problem.)
User Experience is the process of thinking of your users first. That’s right, YOUR USERS, not you.
4a. “I like it. That’s what matters!”
So many designers focus on making the client happy, and so many clients simply focus on pleasing themselves. But the truth is, it really doesn’t matter that you like the colors yellow and pink. If these colors don’t match the needs of your target demographic, then they shouldn’t be incorporated into your website — or your branding for that matter. And just because you like butterflies — and who doesn’t? — doesn’t mean that your audience wants to see them plastered throughout your site.
4b. “Oh yeah? Well one time I… ”
People love to talk about themselves, but nobody wants to have a one-sided conversation. A number of sites tell visitors all about themselves, how great their organization is, but never really offer any useful information. They drone on and on about their product or service being the greatest thing since sliced bread, but never support their statements with any factual information. No one wants to hang out with the guy who’s always done something just a bit better, faster or longer. Don’t let your website be that guy.
5. Your site uses outdated technology or methodology.
I’ve seen web trends come and go. It was only a few short years ago that nearly every website included a splash screen, with some sort of animation. Clients wanted animated buttons, background music, sliding menus and the like. But let’s face it, unless you’re Walt Disney, visitors aren’t coming to visit your magic kingdom.
Note: If your site exclusively uses Adobe Flash, then you must replace it. Fewer and fewer devices use Flash and soon your site will be left out in the cold.
6. Your site doesn’t support your brand.
Protecting your organization’s brand is of utmost importance. So why would you risk your brand’s reputation by aligning it with a website that doesn’t match? Part of building trust in your brand is creating a consistent experience for your customers. If they’re used to getting top-notch service when they call you, then they had better get the same level of service when they visit your site.
7. Your site doesn’t reinforce your marketing goals.
Just like any other task, having a goal in mind is absolutely critical to success. We’ve all heard the old adage “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” In the case of your website, it is even more true. So before you even think about what your site should look like or how you want it to work, you need to consider what your goals are for the site. If the aim of your marketing efforts is to increase sales by 20% annually, then you need to ask, how does my website help me get there? If your site isn’t an integral part of your marketing efforts, then you need to reëxamine your website.
Remember that your website is just one piece of your overall marketing strategy. It can’t do everything, but it does need to carry its own load. It needs to be professional, focused, and of course, focused on the end-user. Your site should be an up-to-date extension of your brand, working towards the same end-goal as the rest of your marketing efforts.
If you believe that your website needs help, then why not contact me? We’ll review your current site and your long-term goals to figure out the best strategy for you and your organization.