I hear the following common complaints quite often:
Every day, business site owners ask these questions and all these questions can be boiled down to the essential query, "What do I get for my money?"
This is a legitimate question. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with running a small business knows that quantifying a return on investment is as necessary as it is difficult. Unless you have extremely deep pockets or have a Leprechaun in your employ living at the end of a rainbow, you want to be sure you get the most bang for the buck when allocating those limited marketing dollars.
An obvious advantage to employing an SEO strategy is to tap into search engine traffic. Hundreds of millions searches made every day represent a market that cannot be ignored, no matter what you are selling. But beyond the obvious there are certain factors that are seldom considered but should be when examining the question of SEO for small business.
Webmasters, site architecture and SEO
Usability is one of those terms tossed around a lot these days in terms of how a website works – or doesn’t work – from an end user’s perspective.
If you have a web designer who understands these issues of usability, then by all means hang onto him or her. However, that still does not ensure that your site design will address usability factors related to search engines.
It is very common for webmasters to design sites that are user friendly but cannot be indexed properly by search engines. Presumably a user comes to your website looking for information, perhaps just to browse or to actually read its content. Search engines are visitors to a website, as well, also looking to read information. Unlike the human eye, the "eye" of a search engine is not nearly so complicated or astute. In fact, it is a simple program built to read text only. Java script, images and flash movie files mean absolutely nothing to it. So, although those java script fly–out menus or those fade–in flash navigation images look great and are also perfectly understandable to your human visitor, they are invisible to the software, making it impossible for a search engine to properly index your site. It simply sees no information — there is nothing for it to "read."
Other common harmful practices include inconsistent relative linking within the site, multiple URL paths to the same content and the use of frames. Many of these functions do not cause problems for the usability of the website, but they do cause problems for search engines, making it very difficult to correctly index its content. Understanding these factors and site architecture in relation to search engines is where your SEO plays a crucial role.
SEO should not be an afterthought
SEO should be put at the forefront of any website design or redesign. It is more costly to include optimization features at the end of a redesign than it is at the beginning. Getting it right the first time will also ensure that you gain those precious rankings a lot quicker. High rankings translate into increased traffic, which is the name of the online game, is it not?