5 things more important than SEO

by Hessam on July 14, 2011

Every now and then I find myself politely turning down SEO consulting offers because I just know that my efforts would do little to achieve the clients’ goals. I will try to list my reasons for this below in the hope that it will help companies evaluate their own status before thinking about serious SEO. The bottom line is that there will be zero value from SEO if you ignore these points, and you’ll only be wasting money and efforts and end up dissatisfied with the person you hired.

You need a decent product, at the very least

More traffic is useless if visitors don’t convert. If your product is not interesting, it won’t matter how much more traffic you drive to your site, you will only end up disappointing more people.

Web Analysis and other usage metrics are key

Weekly visitors? What’s the bouncerate for search engine visits? How are visitors converting, segmented by traffic source? Who is linking to you? What are the less competitive keywords that you could leverage? How were these KPIs affected by the latest site update?

Useful and clear data must be the basis of any decisions related to your website and these questions need to be asked and understood before attempting to further optimize anything. Many websites don’t need more traffic, but instead they could do with somebody to think about better converting the current visitors.

Thoughtful design & UI are more important than you may think

Nobody likes using your site if it looks as if it was designed in 2008! With all the websites competing in the same space, you need to put in the effort to stand out and impress visitors with a smooth UX to remove as much friction as possible. Poor design results in visitors leaving your site as soon as they arrive.

Google is your friend

If you find yourself in alarm mode every time Google updates its algorithms, you’re doing it wrong.

Fact 1: It’s Google’s index and so it’s their rules. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not, at the end of the day Google always wins. I am not saying that they get it right every time, but you need to manage your risks by staying well away from the grey area.

Fact 2: If something makes sense for Google’s billions+ of users, they will without much grief ignore the few SEOs who complain about their lost rankings. Accept this and move on.

Don’t break the rules (unless you want to), and build for users because that’s what search engines care about most.

SEO is a team effort

Engineering, sales, support, marketing, PR, “management”, even the interns and investors have to understand why Search can help you achieve more. Otherwise you will end up playing politics games and little will change. Particularly, if your developers view SEO as snake oil, you’re in trouble.

Is there anything missing on the list? Please add your thoughts in the comments.

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