09 Jul, 2015

You can't just build it and they will come anymore

You've probably all heard the old saying "if you build it they will come." It used to be widely used in conjunction with bricks and mortar businesses, but morphed into internet usage for websites too. And while it used to hold true for websites in the early years, now it doesn't. If you build it now the majority of search engines and internet users will say "so what."

So how do you get over the "so what"? It's like buying property—location, location, location. For websites it's optimization, optimization, optimization.

Let's start with content. Content needs to be written well and optimized to attract search engines. After all, if you don't put the right bait out for the search engines you won't land your customer—they will be swimming about in someone else's content.

Is your site responsive? By that I mean is your site mobile-friendly? I'm sorry to keep harping on about this, but Google will put a mobile-friendly site above your site in mobile search results if you haven't met Google's criteria; being mobile-friendly is one of their major criteria. (Read Is your site mobile-friendly? If not, Google has a nasty surprise for you.)

Don't forget aesthetics. If your site doesn't look attractive or easy to use when users find it they won't stay if it resembles a dog's dinner—regurgitated.

Back to content. Do you update your site regularly? Or let it fester like that out-of-date tin in the back of the pantry? Fresh content sells your site to the search engines. Stale content is like those out-of-date tins that get given to food banks every year—worthless.

And what about usability? Website designers used to favour the three-click rule, which was an unofficial navigation rule suggesting that users should be able to find everything they wanted in no more than three clicks. Well that's not considered important now, users should be able to find everything they want using a clean, clear easy-to-use navigation that doesn't cause confusion, or restrict itself to three clicks. However, 10 clicks to find something isn't recommended—no matter how great you think it is. Your site's SEO won't be affected if it has clear navigation from any entry point; search engines drop users onto the page most relevant to their search, not at the home page.

Are you a social media hound? No matter whether you like social media or loathe it, it can be very useful to your website. From shares and reshares, to tweets and retweets, pins and repins, social media can make or break a website. Make social media your friend and your site will benefit from it—meaning your business will too.

And finally, content, content, content. Make it great, make it fresh, make it relevant.