Posted by Tory Buckley, Site Architect on January 27, 2015
Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a two part blog series about improving SEO and the optimal arrangement of content.
I love coffee, mostly if it is filled with cream, sugar, syrup, and a cute picture in foam. And like everyone, I have my favorite place to get it. I often visit my favorite shop before heading off to another crazy day at the online marketing agency at which I work. As I sip my coffee next to a fireplace I pretend is mine, I think of one of many clients who cannot understand why their site is not the best of the best. Actually, to be more specific, why they are not outranking their competitor, why their telephone is not ringing off the hook, why their products are not flying off the shelves, or why their inbox is not being blown up.
They turn to my Internet marketing agency to perform some sort of magic. They want us to take mud and salt and create a divine latte. Yeah, not going to happen. Just like my barista cannot turn dirt into coffee, we can’t perform miracles either. It’s just not realistic!
Sometimes it is difficult to explain realistic goals to a client. They often expect results overnight with sudden increases in traffic and conversions. So when it’s hard to clearly convey the reasons why I can’t get their traffic to recover in 4 days and get them 300% more conversions by tomorrow afternoon, I think back to my morning coffee. A coffee customer seems to understand that you can’t get coffee when the shop is closed or that I can’t make you a caramel macchiato without caramel. So I’m going to break down the SEO process and relate it to getting the perfect morning cup of coffee from your favorite coffee shop. I can’t make this guide all things to all people, so if you don’t get enough SEO guidance here then take a look at Netmark’s main SEO page.
Clients want us to optimize SEO factors, such as title tags and meta descriptions. We can do this and then some, but if your website will not pull up quickly, title tags are useless. This is similar to heading to your favorite coffee shop. You get all bundled up, wait for your car to defrost, and drive over. You arrive only to realize they are closed. There is no explanation; they should be open, but they are not. So now you’re ticked. You huff back to your car and go to the next coffee shop you can find. You need a cup of joe, darn it!
That is what your customer’s experience when they try to visit your site and receive a 404 error. This type of error is within your control to fix, and you should do it immediately. 404s come about when Google cannot find the page that has been linked to. Sometimes there is a typo in the link. You can fix these problems with Google Webmasters Tools. Using crawlers, such as Screaming Frog, can help you easily identify these errors.
Another type of error that will result in an angry customer is a 500 error. These are server errors and are out of your control. You must contact your hosting company immediately. If this happens frequently and your website continues to time out, y’all need to move—and quickly! I understand, you want to save money so you found the cheapest option you could. This is NOT a good way to select a hosting option. It is more important that your site works than to find cheap hosting. There are several different types of hosting services. You can get it for free (probably not a good option), or you can get hosting via The Cloud. Be sure you look at all of the server options.
If asbestos was found in the building that housed your favorite coffee shop, they had better pack up their bags and move across town. The rent may be more expensive, but at least their customers would be able to enjoy their coffee without a danger to their health. While your website being down should not result in deaths (if it does, you should reconsider your business decisions), it does call for immediate action. Before you yell at your webmaster, understand that you have to deal with the server that is storing your site, not a person. Please don’t yell at your webmaster. It ruins our day and our nice cup of coffee.
So after a few mishaps, you finally make it inside the coffee shop and order your coffee. You take off 98 of your 100 layers of clothing and think about the deliciousness that is going to be before you in a few minutes. Only it doesn’t come. You nervously glance at your phone. You’re going to be late, but you wait. You wait and you wait. You wait 30 minutes and still no coffee. Now you want to scream, only you haven’t had your coffee yet so you don’t have the energy.
You don’t have 30 minutes to deliver a webpage; you don’t even have 30 seconds. You have about three. If it takes your page 30 seconds to load, all of your traffic will leave before they even get to your page. So you have already made the customer mad in three different ways, and guess what? They haven’t even read or seen any of your website! The coffee customer hasn’t even tasted the coffee yet! So all of the money you are putting into content (or coffee) is worthless unless your site is serving up something.
It is easy to get caught up with the trends, but do not lose sight of the goal. The goal of your website is to communicate and make contact with your customers. Make sure you have a functioning site.
But we all know making the perfect caramel macchiato requires the right combination of quality ingredients. These ingredients are like the site content. Content creation and development is a hot topic in the SEO world and it can get confusing to know what is the right amount and type of content for your site. Join us next month as we break down how the perfect cup of coffee is like the perfect arrangement of content.