The Most Common SEO Pitfalls – Part 1
As a search marketing agency, we hear a lot of SEO success stories and many tales of misery and woe as well. SEO takes planning and thought. It is never a “set it and forget it” deal. But still, sometimes misconceptions about search marketing in general, or errors in planning can lead your efforts astray, leaving you with an underperforming site and a lot of frustration.
So I’ve been combing through our files and SEO history, assembling a list of what seem like the most common pitfalls, especially when building a new site or overhauling an existing one. I will break this up into a number of blog posts. And 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.
Here then are 3 of the most common SEO pitfalls in website design.
1. Assigning Site Responsibility to the Wrong Department
In the early days, it was common for the web development and maintenance responsibility to live in the IT department. That made sense then. Today search marketing and websites play an enormously important role in the customer acquisition and sales process, so it’s simply no longer an adequate model, and yet, it’s still not uncommon. Is your SEO run by your IT department? Sure, the IT talent should manage your site’s development and technology, but, they should do that in accordance with business goals. The functionality and overall design of the site should be determined by the Sales and Marketing team. Take control of your site and be sure your Marketing department is at the helm.
2. Using a Custom Platform
For reasons similar to #1 above, many companies choose to build a custom web site rather than use an off-the-shelf system as the foundation. For the vast majority of small and mid-size businesses, this is hard to justify and will cost more in the long run, and produce less. Most sites have content, forms, navigation, and a few widgets of various kinds. Very few have highly specific functionality that would require a custom site. Instead, use WordPress or a similar CMS (content management system) for rapid development, access to thousands of pre-coded widgets, and easy maintenance. And if you don’t have a real IT department, outsource the whole thing. You won’t be sorry. Note also that an off-the-shelf system is easy to hand off to a new developer if the need should arise.
3. Not Planning for Maintenance
A successful website is dynamic and fresh. The content changes frequently. You track visits, user behavior, and conversion (leads or sales) and tweak the site and your marketing campaigns accordingly. As explained at the outset, it is not Set it and Forget it. Sometimes we may have the impression that a website and some SEO will save tons of work and money. Well, it will generally be less expensive than most traditional forms of marketing, and far more trackable. But every new page creates work! Every page must have a goal, and every page must be maintained in accordance with its goal. When a user lands on any page on the site, your design, content, widgets, navigation, and calls to action, should work together to ensure the visitor knows what you want them to do next. But first, you need to know what you want them to do next! And be sure to embed those goals in the design of the site, and of your content and landing pages. And then check what’s working and what’s not on a monthly basis at least. Tweak. Edit. Update as needed. Rinse and repeat.
These are three major areas where many sites commonly fail. 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!