Website Agencies Are Destroying Your Website Traffic
POSTED BY THE ALGERNON
8.14.2018 | SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
At The Algernon, we prefer to be spending our days optimizing our clients web presence, driving traffic to them, then basking in client praise. But no amount of traffic will help a poorly designed website. So, we build those too.
Fortunately for our clients, when we’re building websites, we’re happy to do some “unpaid” Search Engine Optimization (SEO), since we’re in the back end already.
If we’re building a website without a client-approved SEO strategy, we’re still going to host the website on a server that prioritizes page load speed times.
We’re going to have some sense of our customer’s keywords, and will place them accordingly.
We’ll optimize every single image not only for keywords, but also the size of the image, formatted properly for the web.
We’ll ensure that your Google Analytics codes is operating properly, as well as install a highly-rated SEO plugin.
These are some common SEO tasks we simply cannot ignore. What good is your website if it’s not getting found?
Unfortunately, we’ve seen first hand the misdeeds of other marketing agencies, creating websites while ignoring these obvious, easy to implement tasks.
Below is a list of common mistakes made by website designers, all that will crush your websites search rankings.
By the way, if this article ends up ranking well for some keyword phrase or two, it is by accident. This article is simply a rant. It’s meant to give us peace.
They Don’t Understand Your Customer Personas
Before website design projects, most marketing agencies will email their client a questionnaire asking about their product or service, their market, their customers, their competition, their branding, and so on.
The problem with this is that these questionnaires are rarely returned fully completed, if at all. But will this stop the website design agency from proceeding? Hell no.
At The Algernon, we launch all client projects with what we call The Discovery Phase. Our next blog post might be about that.
In this phase we run a facilitated meeting that unearths all of the important attributes of our client’s business.
This includes the vitally important, customer personas discovery.
We know the vast majority of businesses don’t have these, so we help them create these.
Buyer personas are so important in website design because the website’s intent is to sell to them.
Without customer personas, how can a website design agency accurately build a site that will draw in that user’s attention and keep it.
Sure, they can add a pretty element to the site, but the visitor, realizing they’re not getting what they really need, will quickly bounce out.
The Importance of Customer Personas
The higher your website’s bounce rate, the lower it ranks on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). Sad.
HubSpot has a great Persona Templates guide that will easily walk you through the process. And as stated, we’re also happy to assist with this process!
They’re Entirely OK With Large Picture File Sizes
This one really burns us!
When a picture is taken, by any device, it’s generally saved at 72dpi and an aspect ratio (X by Y) of roughly 5,000+ x 3,000+ pixels. This results in an image that’s 4 – 7MB+ (Mega Bytes) in size.
One of the more important search engine ranking factors is page load time. If a page doesn’t load within three seconds after the user clicked it, the vast majority of those users will click back to the search results. Google, for one, sees this, and lowers your rankings for it.
Neil Patel sites a study stating that nearly half of web users expect a website to load within 2 seconds, and they will click back out of a site if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds.
Furthermore, 79% of eCommerce shoppers who have trouble with a site’s performance won’t return to the site to buy again. And about 44% of them would tell a friend about that poor, online shopping experience.
When we receive pictures from our clients, we want the largest ones they can find. We then crop them down to files sizes acceptable for use on the web. We always strive for less than 100KB in file size. Sometimes we’re not able to do that, but it’s rare.
They Don’t Care About Poorly Named Images
When a picture is taken, we all understand that the camera doesn’t name it according to our keyword priorities.
The reality is, image names are searchable content that search engines can not only rank, but they also provide valuable context to the search engine regarding the topic of that page.
After we optimize the image’s size, we name it accordingly. This helps boost that page’s SERP rankings, and it also provides content for image search results.
What makes an SEO friendly image? First, the title of the file itself, including any appropriate keywords, and all text separated by hyphens.
Secondly, the title and alt text tags. These should be descriptive of the image as well, so if you’ve named the file appropriately, then you have the content, minus the hyphens, for these to attributes.
They Don’t Care How Slow Your Pages Load
Page load speed times are crucial to your SERP rankings. We start by choosing a web host that prioritizes speed.
As state above, we also optimize all images to the lowest file size possible, while maintaining the awesomeness of the photo of course.
What else can slow down your website? Plugins. Website platforms, such as WordPress, which we use, is compatible with feature add-ons called plugins. But too many of these plugins can slow your site down, so we keep these to a minimum.
A Sample Blog Post Page
No Concern For Fresh Content
If you want to rank well on SERPs, you have to consistently provide updated content to your website. A blog is a great way to do just that.
Or you could add a section called Resources, or News, instead. The point is to have an area on your website that you can use to post updates.
But website design agencies aren’t concerned with your rankings, so they couldn’t care less if you post regularly.
At The Algernon, our goal is high ranking websites. So when potential clients approach us, we make it clear that a content strategy will be in order. Why pay a lot for a website then have it sit in obscurity?
Forgetting About the Search Engine Visibility Setting
This one is a killer.
When many of us develop websites, it’s done on a development server, with a URL different that the customer’s actual domain name.
We don’t want search engine spiders finding these dev websites and indexing them. There are several reasons for this, but one important reason is something called Duplicate Content.
When search engines find duplicate content, meaning, the same content on different websites, it doesn’t know to which site it should be applying its ranking calculations. Essentially, search engines are confused by this.
After we’ve completed a website development project, on the dev server, it’s then copied to the live server. Consequently, we now have two identical websites. Not good.
If you develop in WordPress, there is a handy little setting that tells search engines to not index the website. Developers check this setting on the dev server. In WordPress this setting is found in Settings\Reading.
The Important Search Visibility Setting in WordPress
However, there are often times the website design agency, after porting a completed website over the live hosting server, forgets to uncheck this setting. So, the live site is telling search engines not to index it. Your website has to be indexed before it can rank, so you see the peril in missing something like this.
The URL, or the address of the webpage, is what gets ranked by search engines.
Often times, when a client wants a website redesign, they may want certain pages to go away, or perhaps even combine pages. This can be for many reasons, but what negatively impacts their SEO is if the web design agency doesn’t account for the now missing page.
When search engine spiders crawl your website, they expect to see every page they saw the last time your site was crawled, plus more hopefully.
When search engine spiders can’t find a page they previously crawled, this confuses them, and negative SEO ranking can occur.
Essentially, search engines think that if you don’t tell them that a page is now gone, then you don’t care about website visitors attempting to access this now missing page.
The proper way to handle missing pages on a website is to tell search engine spiders that the page is now gone, and website traffic, and ranking factors, should now be attributed to another page on the site. This is accomplished by something called a 301 redirect, which we’ll save for another blog post.
This is a relatively easy thing to do, but nearly all website design agencies ignore this, because they simply don’t care about your website rankings.
No Internal Linking
Internal links, meaning links on your webpages that link to other pages on your website, help visitors find similar content to the articles they are reading.
Internal links also help search engine spiders understand the architecture of your website.
When visitors click on internal links, the result is that they’re staying on your website longer, a plus for SEO.
When we’re developing websites, and since we’re already in the back end anyway, we gladly add proper internal links. It takes literally seconds to do, and we couldn’t imagine not helping our clients out in this way.
Not Setting Up Analytics Properly
Finally, website agencies don’t care about setting up your analytics because they don’t care how well your site ranks.
The most popular analytics tool is Google Analytics. Simply setup an account, verify ownership of the domain, then Google supplies you with a snippet of code and a unique identifier that you place in the header section on each page of your website.
Once analytics is installed, you can start tracking your marketing campaigns by viewing how many people are coming to your site, from where they’re coming to your site, how long they stay on your site, and so on.
Even if you’re not currently concerned with how well your website is doing attracting visitors, you probably will one day. So, the sooner analytics are installed, the better. And it’s a process that takes only minutes to accomplish.
We hate to beat on how other website agencies do business, and honestly, we have no right to tell them what to do. It’s their company, they can run it any way they wish.
But at The Algernon, we just feel that, if we can do these little things to help our clients’ website rank better, then why not spend the extra time it takes to do so?
We’re not order takers here, we’re partners. We want our clients to succeed because it helps our business to succeed and… it genuinely makes us feel good.