Some years ago, I wanted to put up a website to sell property. Like most people, I knew little about how the Internet works and went to a web design company recommended to me by a friend, who had a reasonably good looking website.
Over the course of a week or so, I had several meetings with one of the ‘techies’ at the web design company as the design of the website was fleshed out, with decisions needed on the overall colour and design, the separate pages and the operational system for loading the content. I agonised about the appearance (as everyone does!), constantly changed the text to make it more concise and spent considerable time choosing the right images for the home page.
Within a couple of weeks the site started to look quite good and I began populating the site with content, a laborious job but one that felt quite satisfying at the time. After all, I now had a website up and running, one that looked good and that would soon start bringing me leads.
However, a few months after my website had been set up, I was still waiting for leads to appear.
In fact, there was a positive dearth of enquiries and I found that the only ‘action’ on my site came from when I directed potential clients to it – either by e-mail, telephone or one of my business cards.
As to attracting clients – well, nothing happened.
Over the course of the following year, I continued to wait for leads to come from my site, on the basis that I had been told that it took ‘time’ for a site to ‘get noticed’.
But my site was as useless at the end of the year for producing potential clients as it had been at the beginning.
Perhaps you have experienced the same thing?
The galling thing was that my site looked good enough to tempt potential buyers and I had honed the text and images down several times in an effort to make it more compelling. But nothing I did seemed to make the slightest difference.
And then I met a web marketing expert who was massively successful in an unmentionable (but very competitive) Internet sector. I showed him my site – and he laughed!
“It looks okay,” he said, unimpressed, “but you have no search engine optimisation (SEO) at all. In fact, you have about as much chance of being found on Internet searches as I have of doing a pas de deux with the next British Prima Donna.”
I was devastated (my friend is a rotund 14 stone and no dancer). To put it mildly.
“You have virtually no metadata, “my friend continued, “your search terms, such they exist, are useless, your images are not tagged, your site is inert, your domain meaningless, you have no niche and you are trying to take on competitors that you could not come close to touching, if you spent a fortune on excellent optimisation.”
My site was totally useless.
As my friend said: “Your site has been designed by website designers who clearly have no idea about how to make a website work. It’s a common problem because many web designers are clueless when it comes to SEO and how to make a website effective. They can make a site look pretty – but that’s not what brings enquiries. Excellent optimisation does that and optimisation research should be done well before you even think of buying a domain name, let alone setting up a site.”
Well, my friend was right, as I quickly learnt.
So, if you want a website to work for you then make sure that right from the start everything about the site is led first by SEO and then by a web designer’s visual creativity. Get that wrong and you will end up with a site like mine (and many other businesses) which is effectively useless.
And my useless site – what became of it?
Well, you know, I have kept it alive, as a working example of how not to do things (whilst replacing it with another site that does work!). Looking at it still makes me angry (unfulfilled expectations etc!) and this concentrates my mind – when I am thinking about how best to make a new site work…