Is it possible improve or build a website that in the long term actually harms your business?

The answer is a resounding yes.

In my years working on web applications and in digital marketing, I’ve seen many examples where changes are made that negatively impact a website’s ranking in search engines. Given that search engines drive a large percentage of visitors to a website, opportunities to win new clients and sales will be lost.

I recommend that at the outset of projects there clarity around the following questions:

How the site is currently performing on the search engines:

  1. Search phrase ranking
  2. Volume of traffic from search engines

Is the work being carried out to increase or maintain search engine traffic?

  1. How has the website achieved its current rankings?
  2. Page load speed
  3. Site structure analysis
  4. Back link analysis
  5. Meta information
  6. Content structure
  7. Landing page analysis

Reports on the site’s current ranking and traffic are important but can’t be binding as they are measures that a company can only influence and not control. If the project is required to maintain search engine traffic then it is vital that the answers from the second question are replicated into the new site.

Where an increase in traffic is required, SEO consultancy will be required to improve the site’s visibility and relevance. This work will often occur over a six to twelve month period.

The process requires the use of several SEO tools that enable an enterprise to measure their own SEO performance and benchmark against their competitors.

  • Rank Tracking – SearchMetrics
    SearchMetrics provides true Enterprise level data on Google, Yahoo and Bing rankings. For any website it can tell you what position it appears for a search phrase. This is a fantastic performance monitoring tool to ensure that your website is climbing in the rankings.
  • Back Link Research and Reporting – SEOMoz and Majestic
    Inbound links are of major importance to SEO consultants. Each link is viewed as a vote for the website it points to and therefore it can determine a website’s authorityWebsite Analytics – SiteCatalyst, Webtrends, Google Analytics and more
    Traffic figures provide the clearest view of your search engine performance. Segmenting reports to show only organic traffic enables you to see how an increase in rank is generating additional visitors to the site.
  • Research – Google Keyword Tool and Webmaster Tools
    Information on what people are searching for on Google is available from its Keyword Tool to research what people are searching for. Webmaster Tools provides useful insights on how your website is performing.

SEO is an ever expanding discipline that requires creativity, technical expertise and an understanding of digital marketing. In my opinion some elements of the work can be easily driven by processes but on the whole it requires expertise to use the tools well and drive results.

Article by David Sealey, Senior eBusiness Consultant at Capgemini who is happy to advise on SEO, digital marketing and website optimisation.