The lovely Michael Martinez at SEO Theory has exhorted all us SEO Geeks to write at least ten articles that use the title 'If I may intrude on your thoughts...'. And so I thought I would set myself the exercise. Well at least once anyway!
But why, I hear you ask.
Well, mainly because there are an awful lot of people writing about SEO who follow the standard rules about keyword placement so rigidly that they produce a selection of extremely boring reads with some very dull titles.
I put my hand up, I've been guilty of it myself. Stuffing the phrases that I want to rank for all over the place in order to get the right density in relation to the other words and losing the flow of the article for the reader.
For heaven's sake, I got into this business because I love writing and people said I was good at it. If I handicap myself by writing purely for the search engines, I end up taking all the pleasure out of it - for both me and any potential readers. But I only realise that with hindsight... and bounce rate review.
Why you need to think about what your customers want from your website
When I first wrote the front page of my website, I talked in keywords... completely forgetting or ignoring the fact that the majority of my local SEO customers don't really have a clue about search engine optimisation, backlinks or even keywords.
The bottom line for business owners is whether the telephone is ringing and they are getting new clients to their website as a result. You can see them start to glaze over when you mention links and SEO.
So, when I started to redesign my website 18 months later, I tried to take that into account. I began to change my language away from the jargon and back to the brass tacks of what is important to the local business owners.
And, after questioning a lot of you about how you think the internet works, this is what I discovered:
You know that you are better at what you do than your competitors and you automatically assume that, because you've been around for a while and are a market leader in your industry, Google and any potential customers will know that too.
So you type the name of your business into the computer and a page from your website comes up at the top of the results - sorted!
Why your website might appear on the front page of Google just for you
This is when I have had to explain time and again that if you can't rank for your own name, then something has gone seriously wrong with both your website and its subsequent online exposure.
Then a number of you have responded: "But look, I'm on the front page for 'my product in my town' too". So I start to talk about personalised search and how even your computer's browser cannot be trusted to give an unbiased report of your online presence.
You see, even if you clear your cache every day, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera all seem to keep a note of the pages that you look at regularly. They want to provide you with search results of websites that you like so they will use every opportunity to show you those pages that they know you visit frequently.
Naturally, your own website will fall into that category. And it's even worse now that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus have got us sharing and liking pages socially. You get a results page that shows not only things that you may have liked or shared but also pages that your friends on those various platforms have voted up.
It's becoming more and more difficult for the business owner to actually see a totally unbiased representation of what any potential customer will be seeing when they search for the product or service which that his/her business offers.
If I may intrude on your thoughts for a moment to discuss your website
But it's more than all that ranking stuff! If any visitor does land on your website, are you providing him/her with a great experience? Are you answering the question that they asked Google to answer when they typed it into the search bar?
More to the point, do you actually know if anyone is actually visiting your website? Are any of them becoming leads by leaving their contact details via a form?
If you don't know the answer to all or any of these questions, then your website is failing your business. Your online brochure/shopfront isn't generating any customers so it was a waste of all those hard-earned pounds.
Click the image below and take the test to see if your website could be improved, not just for search but for user experience across regular and mobile devices!
Now, that's the sort of thing that I want you to remember me for.