This is a long rant, so if you’re a designer or marketer, have patience, don’t be offended, because there is a point.
To most businesses, their website is just an online version of their printed sales brochure. And when the site isn’t performing in terms of traffic or inquiries, the fix is inevitably a re-design project – Update the appearance, re-word various pages, company message or offer. The modern pitch being “Let’s refresh the site branding and copy, include the latest mobile-responsive technologies, a CMS upgrade, plus social media work for additional exposure and to raise your online profile” or similar…
This topic has had a bit of press overseas recently. It’s finally been acknowledged that SEO and getting a website ranked well has business benefits. Yey! At present the business owner and designer just ‘hope’ Google is kind enough to send them traffic after some basic keyword work and maybe submitting the site to a search engine. But, in 99% of case, Google sends through a small fraction of the traffic the business owner expected. They’re then forced to invest hundreds or thousands per month in Adwords or offline marketing.
Out this week is the annual MOS study of how it believes Google ranks websites. The most obvious factor is the slow demise of keywords in ranking. Perhaps this is no surprise to those that follow Google, who made major changes to their algorithm last September with hummingbird. This change had much more focus upon the site content and intent and less on keywords alone. Yet most SEO specialists worldwide just ignored Googles changes, carrying on as before with an obsession on keywords, keyword density, backlinks etc….
Websites and the net is becoming more and more infected. One recent report declared that now 61% of the internet’s traffic is non-human, being various bots, the majority being of evil intent. We see it in attacks on websites and in emails.
It’s an easy question. There’s a lot of money spent by companies here on the look of their new website. Thousands spent to get the right visuals and that elusive wow factor. Design is often carefully crafted by professionals, with lots of meetings, proofs, mockups, exactly the same process as was common with the old company brochures in the 80s, just an online version now. But is this huge investment in the website look and branding actually worth it?
A big part of succeeding online today is getting lots of traffic, then converting that traffic into sales. Certainly you must have a website that is fast and works well with clean coding that the Googlebots like.
This was part of a discussion with a large eCommerce client of mine this week. In a year with his updated WordPress shop site, we had managed to increase the traffic to his site 5x and sales a similar amount. He’s delighted of course. Yet has concern was always around getting more traffic, which when we started was poor.
There’s a lot of hype around content marketing today. The new messiah to getting traffic and leads. Popular sites like copyblogger.com talk of it endlessly. Certainly adding new, fresh content to your site will get you noticed by Google, since google likes busy websites with good, original, relevant content and may often reward you with more traffic too, (assuming your website structure and SEO is fine).
For many years Magento and ZenCart have lead the ecommerce race. The preferred open source software platforms to setup professional online stores for businesses of all sizes. But Magento (used mainly by developers) and Zen Cart (used more by amateurs), have recently been pushed off their number one and two spots by WooCommerce, a WordPress shopping cart plugin. (Chart, right)
WordPress is a big force when it comes to online. The dominant website application software that runs over 20% of all new websites worldwide and growing every year. Sites build by both novices as well as expert developers and coders. It’s a platform for the people, easy to establish, low in cost and simple to update are the key benefits. Most hosting platforms provide tools to setup a WordPress instance in just minutes and developers have provided them thousands of themes to change the look and countless plugins to add features from shopping carts, sliders, galleries, through to online learning options.