In topics: SEO
In the first post on this topic, I touched on several common SEO pitfalls:
- Assigning primary ownership for the website to the wrong department
- Using a custom platform without good reason
- Not assigning appropriate resources to keep your site dynamic and current.
Here are three more of the most common and potentially deadly SEO pitfalls in website design. Please feel free to write some of your own stories in the comments below. Or send us a question about a scenario you’ve experienced, and we can address it in a future post.
1. No Established Goal
What is the purpose of your website? It sounds surprising, but many people have difficulty answering this question. Did you plan out or specify a goal for your site when you began the web design process? I am not referring to the design spec. Rather, what was the business goal of the site? It’s conventional wisdom that every company needs a website, but why? What do you want it to do for you? How does your site fit in your marketing and sales strategy? Is it a brochure site? Do you want fresh leads? Do you sell widgets? Or do you simply want to stay top of mind with prospects? What do you want people to do once they land on your site? Without agreement on a goal, you can’t determine if it’s successful.
Typically, a website should help your company do all these things:
- Get found
- Stay in touch with prospects and nurture the relationship
- Grow the business with leads or sales
How many different types of people visit your site? And at what stages of the buyer’s journey? Can you describe those stages and identify the needs of a user in each stage? Does your site provide answers for those needs, and help them move to the next stage when ready?
2. Putting Up a Page with No Purpose
This sounds a lot like #1 above, but here we focus on how individual pages support the goal. Just as you must be clear about the purpose of your site, every page should have a job. Every page should support the goal. And each page should match user intent, with different types of content for different types of users. Don’t send users — or search engines, for that matter — on a wild goose chase. Don’t point them down blind alleyways, dead ends, or led them to pages without a purpose.
The road to a page deep in your site does not always start with the home page. No matter how well-planned your navigational flow, a user can land on any page from anywhere. They might perform a search and then click on an ad or an organic result. They may have found a link on a blog or in an email. In each case, what was this person looking for? Does this page deliver?
For each page determine who is the target. Is it someone high up in the search funnel still exploring options and solutions? Or someone who has their wallet open? How does your page help in each of these situations? What is the primary call-to-action on this page and what is the secondary? Users may leave your site within a few seconds unless 1) they see immediate value and 2) it’s clear what they can do next.
For each page you create, consider:
- Who is it for?
- What questions does it answer?
- What problems does it solve?
- How does it help the user who lands there move through the decision making process?
3. No Tracking
It is surprisingly common to see small business websites with no analytics at all. Once you have the goals and content strategy in place, it’s critical to understand what works and what doesn’t. But you can’t measure what you don’t track.
There are many good tracking platforms. We usually recommend Google Analytics. It’s the most common, high quality solution, and it’s free. Google Analytics divides the primary data roughly into three types of information:
- Acquisition – What are your traffic sources? How do people find your site?
- Behavior – What do they do when they land on your site? How do they engage with your content? Which pages draw people in and which repel them? Which pages are doing their job?
- Conversions – On a B2B site, are users filling out lead forms, RFQs? Are they signing up you’re your newsletter, asking for more info? On an ecommerce site, can you improve sales or average order value by tweaking landing pages?
Proper tracking will provide invaluable, actionable insights. No tracking means you are shooting in the dark and have no way to know if your site is effective, no basis for adding or removing content. So, get your tracking in order and check your analytics frequently.
There you have three more important SEO pitfalls, where many sites drop the ball. How does your site measure up? Let us know in the comments, and subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss the next post in this series!