“Is SEO still relevant?”
“Is it worth my time and money to invest in SEO?”
“I heard that SEO is an outdated process, why would I waste my time with it?”
These are the current and common questions being asked with regards to SEO. When you hear people referring to the death of SEO, they are probably referring to the “get rich quick schemes” that used to allow irrelevant websites to surface in search results due to their ability to trick Google into thinking that they are the best option. This is called black-hat SEO, and some practices exist to this day, but Google does a great job at finding and ultimately penalizing those who try to cheat the system.
So how does one get ahead on an even playing field? That is where SEO best practices can set you apart from other arts marketers. The idea is simple. Provide fresh, relevant, valuable content in an organized manner to those searching for it, and you will be rewarded with better placement and more traffic. It follows a cycle. Content leads to traffic, which leads to better placements, which leads to even more traffic, and if done correctly, you can grow in a way that is extremely sustainable, and remember, it’s FREE!
Having a good website is like having a clean home. Would you invite over a large group of people if your house was a mess? Would those people be looking to return to your home if they had a poor experience the last time? Probably not.
The Front Door - Relevance
Let's start at the beginning of the journey. When someone approaches your front door, they are coming with a specific intent. If what you present to them is not what they are looking for, they will probably leave. That is why it is important to relay as clearly as possible the contents of your site. Through the utilization of title tags and meta descriptions, you can inform your visitor of what awaits them on the inside.
Google will evaluate your relevance based on the content within your site, as well as the reactions that people have upon entering your domain. If there is a high bounce rate on a page that comes from a specific type of query, Google may decide that your page is no longer relevant for people with that search intent. As a result, your page or even your domain could lose the authority that you have worked so hard to build. This is why it is extremely important to let your guests know what to expect upon arrival. Imagine being invited to a barbecue and when you arrive, there is a wedding going on. I know I wouldn't last too long wearing cargo shorts at a wedding!
Hospitality - User Experience
When you walk into a home, you expect to be welcomed with a warm greeting, (and possibly some cookies) and so should a visitor to your website. Elements such as pop-ups or intrusive ads can quickly deter someone from being comfortable on your page. Also, do your best to make your house a home. Add elements to your page that add value, and make visitors want to look around and check out the different elements. Make them so interested in your entryway that they ask for a tour of the home. This is the value proposition of your website. What can you offer to your guests that nobody else can? This should consist of your unique content as well as the tools or resources that you offer to your guests. Also, since they are coming to your site, make sure you have proper tracking set up, so that you can get some cookies as well!
Architecture - Site Navigation
Once they ask for a tour of your home, this is what you have been waiting for. It is your chance to show them what you have to offer. It is important to make sure your site, or your home, is organized, built in a way that is easy to navigate, and makes sense to those who happen to find themselves within. It is important to make sure that on each level of the house, the essential aspects are always within reach. If you have a room that you want to show your guest, make sure that there is a doorway to that room (a link to the page). If a user can not find the page, it might as well not exist, and there is nothing worse than not being able to show off your greatest assets. On a web-page, all pages should be within 3-4 clicks from the homepage to ensure that the people searching for that page can find it before getting discouraged.
Although these efforts may not cause immediate spikes in traffic, or have you jump in rankings, over time, your visitor base will become more stable and you will continue to grow and earn authority within the search world. As long as you continue to produce original, relevant content, you should see positive effects on many KPI’s that could otherwise flatline and fall.
And once again, treat your website like your home, and your visitors like guests. Guests that are treated well will enjoy the time spent, and most likely return. And who knows, they may bring some friends with them next time, so clean up your home, and get ready for the the guests to start flooding in.