Three times in the last two months I’ve taken on small business clients who find themselves in an identical situations: they’ve spent good money for a high-design website, have generally been delighted with the results (ooh, ah — pretty!) and are perplexed when, a couple of months after launch, they see very low visitor traffic, or poor showings in search results, or both. Even the least internet savvy business owners know that they need to show up in search results — and most have an intuitive understanding that the Top 10 sites returned in a Google search get the lion’s share of the visitors.
So why does it happen?
Because web designers are not search marketers, and very few of them are familiar with sound SEO practices.
In two of the three cases I mention here, the designers chose WordPress as their platform. When we were conducting our preliminary research and competitive analysis for these clients, we saw their WordPress-based websites and thought, “Yippie — onsite optimization will be a snap!”
WordPress is great for SEO out of the box; using one of the popular SEO plugins, like Yoast’s WordPress SEO, makes it even easier and more robust. The plugin provides guidance for optimizing meta tags and on-page content, has options for applying basic indexation rules, generates and maintains Google XML sitemaps for you — all the behind the scenes stuff the designer doesn’t know or care anything about. (Why should she? She’s a designer!)
These things may not seem important when you are in thick of producing your website. You get caught up in color choices and font decisions. You might be fretting over where to place certain pieces of content (should the video be in the sidebar or below the Latest News?) or how to structure your navigation. These are important choices, to be sure, but there are more important ones; ones that will have a greater overall impact on your site’s– and hence you business’s — performance.
If you don’t have a budget to hire an SEO professional, then at least learn a few of the basics for yourself, and do have a discussion with your designer/developer about taking onsite SEO into consideration when building out the site.