Website optimization, or SEO, can often sound like something only the inner circle of marketers can do. It’s like the key to the Halls of the Illuminati or something. If you feel that way… you’re absolutely right. Optimization is a world fraught with danger and intrigue – where lives are at stake and money …
Okay, so it’s not quite that bad. However, if you have a website that has been up for awhile, you’re not necessarily going to follow the same rules of optimization as you would if it’s a new site. –And, not doing things differently can cause a lot of pain and suffering… to your business, anyway.
Optimizing your Website? Proceed with Caution
If you’re thinking about optimization and your site isn’t brand new, there are a few things you need to consider before you jump in. The first being, don’t jump in. Let me explain.
If you’re optimizing your website and you’re not a marketer, that usually means you’re learning from marketers – through blogs, videos and kits. In other words, you get partial training – because we marketers aren’t going to remember all the tiny details that came along through (in our case) over 23 years of marketing. Also, even if you knew everything we did – or maybe I should say “especially” if you knew everything we did, you would be even more cautious. It’s not rocket science, but jumping in can make a big dent in your bottom line.
Obviously, we don’t want that.
So, a word to the uninitiated and learning: if you have a site that has been around a bit, proceed with caution. Yes, optimization can bring you good benefits. Yes, you can optimize your website without a degree in marketing. No, you can not wave a magic wand, throw in the kitchen sink, toss noodles at the wall or any other bad metaphor and expect it to do a good job. It takes careful strategizing.
Now, with that caveat, we’ll move on.
What Is The Topic Of Your Site?
To be quite frank, the main reason for actual website optimization is less for “tricking” the search engines and more for making sure you have all your ducks in a row. For example, we had a website come up ranking for sex toys that had absolutely nothing to do with them, thanks to some oddly worded blogs. Their ducks were all over the place.
Because of this, it’s always best to check in with yourself before trying to optimize anything. Remind yourself exactly what your site is about. This serves a few purposes. One, when you’re going through your site, it will be easier to pinpoint areas that have gone slightly off topic or way into left field. Secondly, you always want to check your key terms to make sure they still mesh with the topic of your site. Just because a term sounds good doesn’t necessarily mean that it fits your particular niche.
What Is Your Site Already Ranking For?
This is the big question, and it’s really important. Here’s why.
We recently had a client with well over 18,000 pages. We were contracted to optimize quite a few of them. Now, the immediate instinct is to pull out the keyword research, review the site, set out a keyword map, and go to town. That immediate instinct would have been wrong. This, I might add, is what most marketers will tell you to do (with a lot more filler in between the steps). We’ve even told you similar – but that’s because we base our information of the assumption that your site isn’t yet ranking for anything.
So is it ranking already? Currently we’re using a handy little program called RankWatch to keep track of our clients’ ranking. You could also use other programs, such as Moz, SEMRush or by just plain searching the first 10 pages of Google. The hand-search thing takes a little finagling to get accurate results, but it’s possible. Before you implement an optimization page, you need to know where you already rank!
Our aforementioned client had a page where they were ranking number 14 on a fairly lucrative key term. Not only that, but the page that ranked was somewhat on target for that term, already receiving traffic for the term, and that traffic received was converting at pretty good rate. Had we changed the focus of the page, it would have been a pretty nasty drop in conversions for them. Because we caught that, our efforts are going towards helping boost their ranking, traffic and conversions for that term – which will ultimately end in a more positive result.
Website optimization is all well and good; we’ve seen the positive results time and again. We’ve also seen the flip side, however – websites tanking because of lack of knowledge. Large enough errors really can cause the ruin of an online website.
If you’re going to optimize your website and you haven’t already consulted with a professional, I caution you to do so. Show them what you’re planning and get verification that it won’t screw up something good that you may already have. It’s not rocket science, but it can have seriously negative consequences if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you need help with your optimization or just need a guide on the path, give us a call. We’ll give you as little, or as much, assistance as you need to help make sure your website is a success. No Illuminati required.