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All mouth and no trousers

01 Sep 2006

Contrary to popular belief there’s more to increasing a website’s visibility in search engines than just sprinkling a handful of keywords on it.  The way a site is designed and built has a major impact on whether search engine spiders are even able to access the content on it. 

Don’t assume that every programmer or web designer knows how to build a website that is balanced for the target market and major search engines alike.  Many website designers and developers are stuck in the 90’s using their old-school web design methods because that’s what they are familiar with.  Unlike your GP they don’t have to upgrade their skills every year.  On the surface their websites might be glossy and picture perfect; however under the bonnet it could be a different story.

Creating a good website is about striking a balance between visibility, accessibility, popularity, usability and measurability. 

Visibility is about being found in search engine results and also on targeted sites such as NZHerald.co.nz.  There are three ways of being found; naturally for free in search engine results, people naturally linking to your site (i.e. word of mouth) and also in the form of paid online advertising including pay-per-click ads, banner ads, text link advertising and sponsorship deals.   

Back when I started in internet marketing in 1995, I was promised that I would know where every dollar was spent and where every dollar was generated online.  The internet is highly accountable and indeed this is very true.  Measurability is key to understanding how each of your online channels is performing. 

A common misconception, especially in the advertising world, is that keeping on brand is only about the look and feel of the site.  Many of these types of websites force all typography and copy into images thus preventing search engines from accessing the good words that are contained within. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love flash animated sites, but creating a whole site out of flash is not doing the client any favours.

It’s all mouth and no trousers! 

Websites that don’t take usability into account and state, for example, “to purchase tickets from this site you may need to install the Macromedia Flash Player” do not deserve to be in business.  (Hmmm, did anyone say TicketDirect.co.nz?)

Marketers need to remember that offline marketing activity influences what people search for online.  If a company spends millions of dollars on television, print, radio and outdoor advertising but forgets to technically optimize and make branded and related non-branded words available on the site to search engines, then they’re opening themselves up to their competition taking advantage of the marketplace generated online by their own advertising investment. 

Each technology on a website has its place and when used correctly can create a good visitor experience as well as provide meaningful content to search engines.  I don’t want to sound like chicken little and declare the sky is falling should you not create a well balanced site, but as a marketer or business owner you’re missing out on an opportunity to maximise your brand exposure and sales online without a sense of practical e-marketing in the equation.

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