Your website will rely on discoverability by search engines to help drive traffic, sell products, and generate leads. But too often, search engine optimization (SEO) is an afterthought: considered only after a site has gone live and the first wave of marketing impact has subsided. At RolloutSF, we’ve learned that it’s better (and less costly) to do your SEO before the launch. Here are three reasons why.
1. Get Your Positioning Right, Right From the Start
The days of “keyword stuffing” are long gone. Today, top search engines like Google and Bing use natural language processing to determine if your page content aligns with your page titles, page descriptions, page URLs (“slugs”), menu items, file names, and more. When everything is aligned and optimized, your search engine rankings go up. Why launch before that?
2. First Impressions Count
Just as keeping the front of your store clean encourages people to come shop, a well-maintained search presence encourages visitors and builds trust. A good first impression includes having search engines find what you want them to find, and not anything else.
Here’s an example from a recent SEO audit I conducted. The design house had left in a sample page with a photo of the business owner and his wife, along with nonsense text in the layout. This was crawled by Bing and appeared in their search engine result page (SERP). The brand was damaged, the client was irritated, and the design house was embarrassed.
If SEO had been considered from the start, the page could have been blocked from site crawlers, or better yet, simply removed. As it happened, special steps had to be taken to remove the page from the site and from Bing’s search index.
3. Proactive SEO saves time and money
When SEO is an afterthought, the fixes are time-consuming and cannot be automated.
First, an audit is needed to determine what is correct or incorrect. This involves testing every SERP to ensure it goes to a live, active page and not a cached, out-of-date, or non-existent page.
Second, the errors are corrected to ensure that only the desired information appears in search engine results.
Third, each undesirable result must be removed by sending a request to each search engine company, one bad link at a time.
Finally, all the incorrect links must be redirected to the appropriate new pages. Appearing to be a poorly-maintained site will lower your search engine rankings.
File names are often not considered early on, when they should be. To build your site in an SEO-optimized way, your web development team should know not just SEO in general, but also your particular SEO goals. Let’s say you’re a cybersecurity company, selling malware protection. You have a map of malware attacks in 2017 for your website. What’s the best name for this graphic?
- malware attack map 2017.jpg
The filenames of #1 and #2 provide little useful information. #3 has good keywords, but running them together means that search engines don’t see them as separate words. (And how many people would ever search for "malwareattackmap2017"?) #4 has good keywords which are separated, but each of those spaces will show up as %20, which will look amateurish and hurt your SEO rankings. #5 is better, but some search engines will ignore the underscores and see the name as one word, resulting in the same problem as #3. #6 is best: the terms are separated by hyphens, which search engines understand as spaces. If someone searches for those terms, the fact that your graphic and your page both include those terms makes your page more likely to show up early in the results. Plus, your map is more likely show up in an image search of those keywords.
If you don’t take that sort of care at the start, a fix would require renaming images and possibly creating redirects to avoid broken image links. Why spend the time and money on that? Like we say, it’s better to get it right the first time.
Although there are no quick fixes that guarantee the coveted first-page appearance in search engine results, investing in SEO from the start will save you time and money in the long run, and put you at a major advantage.