If You Build It, Will They Come?


POSTED ON MONDAY, JUNE 4, 2012 AT 2:28 PM

We've lost a lot of web design work to the do-it-yourself market over the past couple of years. The popularity of WordPress certainly hasn't helped us any. Not to say that you can't build a decent website on your own but if you build it, will they come? We're all on tight budgets these days and the economy has taken a dive but let's face it — if you spend two or three weeks of 24-hour days building your own website in order to save yourself some money, what you're going to miss out on is search engine optimization (SEO). Will they come? Perhaps not.

We've seen hundreds of local WordPress sites go up since 2010 with perplexed owners now sitting back, twiddling their thumbs — wondering why no one is e-mailing them and why their phone isn't ringing. Through mutual friendships, by word of mouth, in desperation — they get in touch with us to ask why this is happening. As tempting as it is for us to say that you got what you paid for, here's a brief look at the problems you'll more than likely encounter when you decide to "go it alone" and design a website all by yourself.

You can have the nicest looking website on planet earth — chock full of every bell, whistle and gadget from here to Pluto and beyond. But if it's not properly optimized, it won't do you an ounce of good. In fact, it might be a waste of cyberspace real estate, serving no other purpose than just a "presence" or a placeholder which won't help you to gain any new business. You need to take a long, hard look at the structure of your website. Not the design, the structure:

  • Proper use of title tags
  • Importance and proper use of headings
  • Properly-written (and unique) meta descriptions
  • Finding the right balance of keywords and keyword phrases
  • Proper use of anchor text
  • Internal and external linking strategies
  • Importance of domain names and individual page (file) names
  • The ethical principles of your optimization strategy
  • Compliance to W3C Standards

The above are only a few of the things which need to be considered — there are actually dozens of factors with about 80% of them unfortunately being overlooked when a business owner "goes it alone".

But wait — there's more. One of the most often-overlooked (and most important) factors is the quality of content. The originality. The uniqueness. The actual value provided to the visitor who will more than likely land on your website by clicking on a link in one of your e-mail newsletters rather than by clicking on a link in a search engine results page (SERP) since they won't be able to find you anywhere to begin with.

SEO has evolved into an art, if not a science. It's not just another "branch" of web design anymore and it would literally take an entire book to cover everything you need to know. Rather than re-invent the wheel, offer a selection of links to articles and technical information or reveal trade secrets (hush, now), we feel it's best to recommend that book we're talking about here.

We recently came across an excellent 432-page book, ideal for those of you who are determined to make your phone start ringing. If your home-made website has been on the net for a couple of years and you're out delivering newspapers as a second job to bring in a few extra bucks (just kidding), get yourself a copy:

Since we love to support local, Canadian-owned and operated businesses, this book is in stock at both Indigo Books locations right here on the North Shore in North and West Vancouver. Good luck and happy SEO-ing! And one last thing (hmmm... I wonder where that comes from). All of the websites we design include at least one level of optimization in the quoted price.

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