Today we're going to show you how to optimize a site that doesn't have compelling content or engaging design.
Step 1. Fly to the Middle East.
Step 2. Search around in the desert for the cave where Aladdin found the genie in the lamp.
Step 3. Ask the genie for a #1 ranking on Google.
And that's about it. Pretty simple huh? Optimizing a website using content and design takes a lot more work, more money, and it has a much better return on investment considering that 98% of genie-seekers die from thirst of camel maulings.
Now I can already hear some of you saying that all anyone really needs to do is hire a decent SEO company and let them do it for you. Sure sounds great, if it worked. Truth is, no SEO company can optimize a poorly written or designed website, no matter how many keywords they stuff into it. But they try!
So now that I've rained on your parade and told you that you're going to have to produce good content and invest in an original, attractive and functional design, here's why:
It's Not the Robots That Are Going to Use Your Site
You might be able to game the search engine spiders into ranking your site in the first few results, but after that it's going to be real people on your website. Web users have become darn good at realizing a site has more keywords than useful information and their response is almost always to leave...most of the time they never come back.
Compelling Content is Sharable Content
Businesses are charging full-steam ahead to join the social media revolution but few really understand how it works. No one wants to share your advertisement with their friends, but a useful or entertaining blog post, video or web game is exactly the kind of thing that gets some of that viral juice marketers are thirsty for. Check out www.babycarrots.com for some super-sharable content.
Engaging, Action-oriented Content Gets People to Do Things
Let's say you get lucky and a visitor hangs around long enough to read through your keyword-saturated copy with the names of every city within 50 miles crammed in to each paragraph. What good does that do? You've just wasted your most precious real estate on getting people (a very small number of people) in the front door and now you've got nothing to talk to them about. You need content that motivates people to buy, sign-up, request more information – whatever your desired response is – and you need clear calls to action with a logical layout so they know exactly where to go to do what you want them to.
Great Design Facilitates Conversion
There's nothing like solid navigation and logical site structure to turn visitors into customers. Sure, we just spent 256 words talking about how valuable content is, but honestly, none of that will work if the site architecture isn't built to support it. Clear calls to action go hand in hand with uncluttered design and site functions that help channel visitors to the information they need to make the decision to buy. Don't forget that many visitors will make a purchase decision within minutes (sometimes moments) of visiting your site, so the layout needs to provide a means to jump in right away. Whether it's a simple PDF download, a clear and useful contact page or an online appointment scheduler, we've proven time and again to our clients that superb design can improve every aspect of their business and generate significantly more revenue. (Dig deeper: 5 Keys to Designing Friendly Websites.)
Great Design is Sharable
Just like content, design should go beyond “good enough to meet the primary goals.” Remember telling a friend about that awesomely interactive website or tweeting a link to a well-designed blog? People share cool websites all the time – they almost never share the boring ones. But interactivity, multimedia and custom illustrations can all be abused for the sake of looking cool. Always remember that usability and function come first. How easy is it to get to the money-making action? Do your graphics, videos or music slow down loading times? Make room for your content to shine and keep distractions to a minimum. I've had a lot of fun playing around on sites where I never purchased a thing. In fact, I often can't remember the name of the company or type of business featured on some of the “coolest” sites I've seen.
Simple? Absolutely. Easy? Heck no. Building a useful site stocked with compelling content that's also optimized for search is simple in concept but requires talent, skill and experience to execute effectively. Great web developers, designers, and content creators make it look like a piece of cake, which I suppose is why so many less talented, less skilled and less experienced folks are out there selling cheap SEO packages and content that ultimately don't work. Beware the hucksters, charlatans and snake-oil saleswomen. Ask your SEO company what kind of content marketing strategy they have for you and how they'll optimize your site design to channel traffic and rank in search engines without jamming keywords into every nook and cranny. When they give you a blank stare or start shaking with fear: it's time to call us.
Do you agree that nothing but compelling content and superb design can really optimize a website or do you think that $5 SEO articles and keyword density still rule the online marketing game?