Think your website needs some more pizazz to attract more business? You may just be surprised. Just because a website looks better, doesn’t necessarily mean it works better. And even the most beautiful web design must first attract visitors in order to be appreciated.
Recently a new client asked me to perform an SEO review their latest website. It had only been operational for about a year, but they weren’t getting the search engine results they wanted. We did a thorough review of the newest site (let’s call it NewerSite), and also took a peek at the site their previous site, designed in-house by a staff member whose expertise was not web design (OlderSite). While NewerSite was created by a design firm and was arguably “prettier,” its functionality and SEO-friendliness were actually substantially inferior to OlderSite. You may imagine, it was a little ugly breaking this news to my client, who had invested quite a bit in the catchier design. But despite its good looks, NewerSite was just not attractive; at least not to prospective customers.
Some still think flashy, pretty websites are what attract business. Don’t get me wrong: I agree that professional design is worthwhile. But only when it’s paired with worthwhile content! Think people “don’t read any more”? They do. And here’s the key: so do search engines! Some of what search engines look to read is visible on your site, and some of it is (or should be!) in the site’s code. Not all web designers are created equal, either. There are those who are better at creating and incorporating meaningful code than others, those who value looks only, those who think they can write but couldn’t put an SEO-friendly phrase together….you get the picture. Things like spelling, proper page titles and meta tags, and keyword maximizing count a lot, and your designer should be able to explain why. They should also be able to elaborate on their skill set and admit where other professional resources could help your results.
If you want to be “found”, you have to have worthwhile content on your site. It will help search engines to find your business, which will attract more prospects and customers. Relevant, interesting and engaging copy should be optimized for your keywords. Pairing it with great design will engage those checking out your site. Ultimately, it will help turn more “shoppers” into customers.
If you are thinking about redesigning a website, don’t hire anyone who doesn’t advise you to first evaluate (thoroughly) your current site. Keywords and content already there may be working hard for you, and if so they should be incorporated into the new site. As for design, fancy images may look nice but will do nothing for you unless properly tagged so search engines can “see” them as well as your customers and prospects. And what about those inbound links? Make sure they track to the new site so you don’t sacrifice hard-earned rankings.
So ask lots of questions, and make sure not to sacrifice what’s working for you. Incorporate it into any new design, along with the latest best practices in organic search engine optimization. Because just like in personal relationships, good looks can be good for your business relationships. But solid, long-lasting relationships are based on mutual interest along with that attraction. Interesting content and proper coding will get your site noticed and keep your business relationships engaging. After all, to see your beautiful design, your site must first be visited.