As a full-service SEO agency, we see many different types of clients with a wide range of needs. But one type of client we see all too often is someone who comes in and thinks search engine optimization, or SEO, is all they need to drastically improve their business.
While SEO certainly has the potential to do just that, some businesses still have fundamental issues on their websites that would hinder the success of even the most outstanding SEO campaign. The best SEO strategy in the world won't do any business much good if the website lacks the functions necessary to direct, process and convert the traffic that a strong optimization strategy brings them. That's why, before opting for any SEO practices, you should consider taking a look at these five website fundamentals first.
1. The "Why"
This might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many businesses haven't taken the time to articulate why they do what they do. When it comes to cultivating an online presence, you have only fractions of seconds to make an impression on users. When there are missing pieces to your online presence, such as the absence of knowing why your business does what it does, who your business does it for and why they should give you their business, it can translate poorly online. Before optimizing anything, you should tackle the basic, fundamental questions that fuel your business—and then learn how to relay that message digitally.
In assessing your site, ask yourself: Why is a customer going to buy from us over someone else?
2. The "What"
Again, this seems obvious, but the "what" is an overlooked and underdeveloped component behind some companies' websites. This refers to the goods or services you have to offer, and lets users know exactly what it is you provide, ideally within one click on your website. For businesses that struggle to emphasize what it is they have to offer, traffic directed to their site by way of SEO may result in a high bounce rate. Users should quickly be able to see the main point behind your business, the product or service that drives it and a clear path of purchase. When these components are unclear or underdeveloped, user trust, interest and impressions may deteriorate by the second.
In assessing your site, ask yourself: What is the unique value of this business—and is it clearly communicated on our website?
3. Website Design and Impressions
Once you've revisited the basics behind your business (Why, What), you can move forward on translating that message through the design of your website. If the internet is a mall, your website is your storefront, so you want it to be appealing enough to draw a positive reaction from users. This is where the aesthetics of your site come into play. When users get to your website, many will respond immediately to the design. Color schemes, balance, style, text, layout—these help determine a user's first impression. If your website is outdated-looking and has a noisy color scheme or cluttered layout, the odds of a user abandoning the page to find another site can be high.
In addressing the design of your website, ask yourself: What does a user who knows nothing about my business see, think and feel when they look at my website?
4. User Experience
Just as important as a killer first impression is a positive user experience. If you're going to invest in SEO to increase traffic to your site, then it's imperative that users be comfortable exploring its pages. When it comes to user experience, users should instinctively know how to navigate your website. This means having a clear path of navigation through your menu, a visible search bar, easy to find contact information, fast page speed, plainly displayed keywords and everything else that a user would want and need for a solid experience.
A CTA, or a call to action, helps you convert users by prompting them to take a specific action. Calls to action can be subscription sign-up forms, “shop now" buttons and any other encouragement for a user to take a further step on your website. They're an important website fundamental, because they point users in the direction you want them to go. If you have an online boutique and you invest money into SEO practices with the hope of users coming to your site and shopping, then having a “Shop the Sale" or “Shop Now" CTA can better directly benefit that effort. Not having them is passive digital marketing, and it may put you at a significant disadvantage compared to your competitors online.
Putting It All Together
All of these fundamentals overlap, work together and contribute to the user experience. For that reason, they can serve as the stepping stone to effective SEO that can draw long lasting and positive results for your website. By evaluating and addressing these website fundamentals before incorporating SEO strategies into your digital marketing efforts, your website may be better ready to receive and convert the traffic it gets.