Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Website Content and Usability are Prior to SEO

You want your website to perform better. You want to drive a lot more traffic to it. Qualified customer  traffic, ready to buy or ready to learn more, shoppers armed with credit cards, hot prospect traffic. 

So you decide to find an SEO specialist to help you optimize your website for high search engine rankings based on proper coding and effective keyword strategies.

Whoa. Slow down. Stop.

First, you must carefully examine and critique the content of your website -- and consider if the design, layout, images, colors, tools, and navigation are all working together for a good user experience. 

Your website must first be tweaked (or majorly overhauled) to ensure that once this flood of shoppers arrives at your SEO enhanced website, they find the information or tools they need, quickly and easily. 

That information and those tools must be exactly what your customers want. The content must be easy to consume. Your website should help people ignore most of the content -- so they can zoom in on the precise piece of information, analysis, news, video, audio, photography, or widget they need at that exact moment.

This means your website must announce clearly and with visual impact WHAT your company is and what it does. Don't assume that "St. Jerome's" will be understood to be a hospital with many satellite clinics. Some people may think it's a church or a rescue shelter. 

Essentials elements in a website home page:

(1) A strong corporate logo or brand image...

(2) ...with a strong promotional slogan or tagline near the logo. (If for some bizarre reason, your company doesn't have a powerful slogan, make one up now and start using it everywhere.)

(3) A reinforcing of the slogan with a concise definition of what customers derive from your company, an explanation of what you do, or some other powerful statement that will orient the customer who arrives at your website, convincing him or her that they have found the ideal source of information for the topic they were searching online.

(4) A photo of the CEO, founder, or manager -- to humanize the company and bring a warm feeling to the user experience.

(5) A picture of happy customers using your product to solve a problem -- or a photo of the end result and chief benefit of the product -- some image that conveys an immediate sense of why the person should be at this website.

(6) Quick links to the products, services, information, media, etc. that customers typically are most interested in, to help them get the job done swiftly.

(7) Differentiation of the website sections: "If you're a parent, go here", "If you're a member, go here" clarifications that identify the type of user and takes them to a set of webpages devoted to their needs.

(8) Contact information. Yes, you have that on your Contact Us page, but often a customer will go to your website just to find your street address or phone number. Especially if you are a retail store or restaurant catering to local clientele. They're in a hurry and don't want to hunt around on your website, clicking and scrolling. Consider putting your street address, phone number, and email address in a visible spot near the top right of your home page.

Before any SEO work can be done on your website, it's vital to nail down the ingredients for an effective home page, as well as top navigation and product pages. You have to tell your story in an interesting manner and have strong calls to action.

Your web content should provide answers to questions your customers typically have regarding various topics related to your field. Give your customers the information they need to pick the product best suited to their needs.

Weak webpages will not be conducive to a successful SEO campaign. 

It would be like trying to beef up a jalopy and then hoping it will race like a fine-tuned muscle car.

Make your website a highly usable platform that communicates your  business message with unique, original content, and then tweak it for SEO strategies that will drive traffic to it.

If SEO tactics and special promotions send more customers to your website, that might be a bad idea.

It's not good to drive more traffic to a poorly designed website with slim content -- it could result in turning more people off to your brand and driving them to your competition. People who were not aware of your company now look at an inferior website -- which only causes them to form negative opinions about you.

Consumers are judging companies by their websites. Ugly layout, unreadable text, spase content, broken links, typos, grammatical errors, no human warmth -- these are big reasons why people reject a website and the company behind it.

When the new web traffic arrives, your website must make a good impression. People have to find it easy and quick for accomplishing their goals. Get the right content and usability on your website, then the powers of Google-compliant SEO can work wonders in a nice ROI environment.

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