Can you succeed without doing SEO on your website?
Listen, you already know how crucial SEO is to the success of your business. And you see businesses around you that are applying SEO techniques to their business are obviously beating you.
On top of that, SEO is always changing; what used to work doesn't anymore, and there's always a new update around the corner. Keeping up with this is difficult and time consuming.
Years ago building a site with a few crappy articles and precision-placed keywords could net you a lot of traffic.
Then Google started getting smart. Really smart.
Sure enough, a few short updates later, and every website built on the bedrock of spammy content and overused keywords evaporated overnight. Because the Internet is always changing, it pays off to keep a close watch over SEO developments, but there's a lot more to be considered in a website's big picture than just the latest optimization techniques.
Please don't misunderstand me, however; the truth is that SEO is a crucial pillar of any successful online marketing campaign.
The good news is that there are other facets of Internet marketing that should demand your attention as well. If you're only focusing on SEO, there's a lot you're missing out on that can benefit your business in the long run. It doesn't matter how much time and energy you've poured into SEO if you've ignored these other foundational pillars of your website.
So what else can you build to ensure that your content and marketing campaign withstands the test of time? We recommend these three 'pillars' to get you on the right track.
Pillar 1: Website Design
Website design is a term that gets thrown around a lot – so much that it might start to lose its meaning a little. Nevertheless, website design is more important than ever these days, especially because of mobile devices.
The term “website design” may be a bit of an umbrella term, but there are specific design elements that you can't afford to omit from your grand design. So, remember to incorporate these specific elements into your overall website design:
- Responsive design that accommodates mobile users
- Color patterns and images that help reinforce branding
- Intentionally lean pages that are designed to load quickly (Accelerated Mobile Pages, image compression tools to conserve bandwidth, etc.)
- Social media tools that allow visitors to instantly share your pages with their social media circles
- Clean and intuitive site navigation menus
- A tasteful color palette, or a minimalistic layout (less is more)
- Social media commenting plugins that allow you to moderate posts
- A quick loading platform, site, and hosting account
- Latest patches for WordPress and any associated plugins (or a maintenance program that keeps them up to date)
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but is a good place to start if you want to tick the most necessary boxes for a modern website design.
Pillar 2: The Users
People often forget that the visitors are the most important component of any website.
After all, doesn't the website exist to serve them in the first place? Sure, SEO and website design are two of the most tangible aspects of your digital marketing campaign, but you also need to spend time growing and cultivating an audience.
But before you can build a following of zealous masses, you first need to spend time deciding who your audience is. More importantly, you also need to decide who your audience is not.
And it all starts with personas.
Gaining insight into who your audience members are, and why they want to visit your site, will drastically increase the quality of your leads.
I don't want that to go in one ear and out the other - go back and read that last line again.
Personas are the most critical part of any successful marketing campaign.
Some people throw up a website and flood it with paid traffic, erroneously thinking that it's just a numbers game. However, I'd rather have 1,000 devoted followers that all belong to my target audience than 10,000 visitors flowing from paid traffic clicks originating from a “catch-all” type of advertisement displayed to people who have no need, interest, or desire for my product or service - the quality of leads would be terrible.
Clearly, time needs to be invested in understanding your audience and building a loyal following.
In fact, we've build a two-page persona worksheet to help you understand who you need to talk to, what they're dealing with on a regular basis, where they 'hang out' and other important details that can help you understand them better.
I recommend using our free persona worksheet this way:
- Read page one, but don't fill anything out
- Start thinking about your customer, and begin filling out the questions on page two
- Once finished, revisit page one and the answers will be much easier to complete
Pillar 3: The Content
I'm sure that many of you thought that the content actually falls underneath the SEO umbrella, but has really become a unique entity in it's own right.
To some degree, sure, content can be used for SEO purposes, especially with the appropriate use of keywords and well-placed calls to action.
Though content marketing is indeed a tool that can be used to attract new leads to the site via keywords and organic rankings, it is such an integral part of any modern website that it demands it's own attention outside the scope of SEO endeavors.
Small business owners are often ready to hit the ground running by ramping up content production from the get go. But first, you should take time developing a content strategy. Yet again, you need to incorporate personas into the direction you want to take your content. Before you start going hog-wild and pumping out content as fast as you can, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are my users/visitors/target audience, and what questions do they have about my niche/industry? (see the persona worksheet I referenced earlier)
- Are there any opportunities to inform or educate visitors regarding new developments in the industry? What can I teach them?
- What age group (and other demographic data) does my target audience belong to, what is their education level, and what language is appropriate to use? For instance, you may want to eliminate technical jargon if your audience won't understand information technology/Internet jargon and slang words.
- How can I make my content better than competitors in my niche?
It's best to plan as far ahead as you can, but as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. So, it's better to plan what content you're going to develop in the long term, and course-correct and make minor adjustments as you get feedback down the road.
While SEO is certainly a crucial and necessary part of any digital marketing campaign, too often it is seen as the only component of a website that matters. But really, SEO is only one of three other pillars of any strong web presence, which includes website design, content, and your audience. Failing to develop any one of these components will cause your website's success to crumble.