Organic traffic accounted for more than 50% of traffic to websites in 2019, yet this is the endless refrain of many business owners we’ve worked with over the years:
“If only I’d known about SEO when I started this business.”
All too often, entrepreneurs plunge into a new, online business without giving serious thought to how their website will rank in search results for the products and services they are selling. They launch their business after months of hard work only to discover that their URL is at the bottom of the umpteenth page of Google and then, without really understanding how search engines work, cross their fingers and hope that their website traffic will increase over time. When, after a year, neither search rank nor online sales have improved much, it dawns on them finally that they should call an expert.
[DOUG, REMEMBER TO INSERT A CHART SHOWING TRAFFIC SOURCES SO THAT READERS KNOW THAT SOCIAL MEDIA ORGANIC TRAFFIC WAS ONLY 5% OF TOTAL.]
Don’t make this mistake: get ahead of your traffic and call us before you begin designing the basic structure of your website, i.e., the site map. That’s right, design your website to capture traffic, instead of reacting to traffic after you’ve launched.
For any direct-to-consumer online business or business expecting to derive the majority of its revenues from online sales, it pays to conceptualize the business around SEO in the first place. That’s because, at bottom, search engine optimization is about engineering a meeting of minds between the consumer and your website. For sure, a large part of SEO is highly technical and entails programming your website so Google can crawl and read it properly. But a lot of SEO is putting time-honored principles of sound marketing into action and making the consumer’s path to clicking “buy” as smooth and seamless as possible.
For example, one of the main goals of SEO is making your website as useful and informative as possible. Part and parcel of that challenge is making sure that your products are described and classified in the manner which dovetails with how consumers are searching for them. Let’s say you sell denim overalls but you call them “dungarees” and write lots of descriptions and texts for “dungarees” on your ecommerce website. Since consumers are likely to type “overalls” into Google when searching for that type of product instead of “dungarees”, your website is unlikely to come up in their search results, even though “dungarees” are synonymous with “overalls.” Moreover, since your website content doesn’t mention “overalls”, your website will never show up in searches for that word either, even if “dungarees” are synonymous with “overalls”. As far as Google is concerned, you don’t sell overalls. On the other hand, Google will index your site for “dungarees” but, who cares, since only a tiny percentage of consumers actually type that into their shopping searches in the first place!
It’s these kinds of considerations, anticipating consumer behavior, nomenclature and expectations, which can make all the difference in an online business, not just vis-a-vis Google but the consumer.
To put it another way, SEO kills two birds with one stone: Optimization for Google is tantamount to optimization for the consumer since Google rewards your website’s navigability, influence and relevance to the consumer when computing search rank.
To understand some of the governing principles of SEO, read Improve Search Rank and you will see that it pays to invest in SEO before you build your website. The last thing you want after you’ve launched your business is the costly and painful task of rebuilding an entire website. After conducting an SEO audit, we frequently find that, for example, it’s necessary to reformat the URL structure of a site’s pages and code redirects from all of the old pages to the new ones (so that third-party links to the old pages don’t lead to nowhere). That’s just one example of the type of harm that can result from building a sub-optimal starter website!
Building a website which is not optimized for search from the beginning is a false economy in two ways. Unsuitable content or poorly designed site architecture will have to be rewritten later, frequently at great cost and hassle. Secondly, the cost of marketing required to compensate for a website languishing in search results is considerable. Traditional PR and advertising may be the only way to boost your business’ visibility if your online traffic is anemic due to low search rank.
Therefore, don’t let SEO be an afterthought in your online business. Design and build your website around SEO from the very beginning.