Having a website is no longer optional for businesses to have long-term success and growth. Especially in the U.S. where the vast majority of people rely on the web for information, and even more now that mobile is exploding, current and future customers expect that your business will have a presence online to help them get the information they need. As an inbound marketer and SEO, I am always relieved when a client contacts me before or during their initial website build, rather than after the fact, because I know I can lend my skills and expertise to ensure the foundation of the website is strong and scalable, and that the site will be readily accessible to both search engines and customers.
If you are about to begin building a new website, bring in an SEO or inbound marketer from the beginning so they can help coach you through the technical and on-page search engine optimization best practices you’ll need to build a solid foundation from Day 1. An inbound marketer can also help you coordinate other inbound marketing avenues like social media, blogging and e-mail marketing with the website build so you can hit the ground running once the site launches. Below are 3 important reasons you should bring in an SEO or inbound marketer from the start.
1. No cleaning up a mess that didn’t have to exist in the first place.
From design and development to content production and search engine optimization and beyond, many critical components go into a successful website launch. When beginning to build a website for your business, it can be overwhelming to plan and coordinate all the moving parts – especially if focusing on your business objectives would be a better use of your time than trying to manage a website build.
Inbound marketers often make great liaisons between businesses and the designers/ developers they hire to build the website. We tend to be excellent translators between the dramatically different disciplines, and can help the website build process go more smoothly and be done right from the ground up. We can also help you select the best web analytics platform and tools to use to measure your traffic, website usage and top-performing content, and these resources are extremely valuable during and after a build. Your SEO or inbound marketer can facilitate the conversations with you, the designer and the developer, that help prevent the costs, time and hassle associated with cleaning up messes on your website that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Cleaning up poor design, development and search engine optimization practices later in the game is much more difficult and costly, and I can’t recommend strongly enough to do everything in your power to avoid them to begin with.
2. High-risk transitions or architecture changes later on can cost serious traffic, rankings and authority.
Having an SEO from the beginning can help ensure you meet all the technical best practices for optimal performance in the search engines. Your inbound marketer can work with the developer/designer to guarantee that all the valuable content is crawlable and indexable by search engines with the robots.txt and .htaccess files. Your SEO can work with them to create an internal architecture and link structure that is logical and emphasizes the most important content. Your SEO knows to look for red flags with the use of Flash, Java or other plugins, as well as dynamically created URLs that can sometimes create duplicate content issues. We know how to properly use tags like rel=nofollow and rel=canonical, and we understand the impact of things like the use of iframes.
Once again, it is so much easier and safer to address these in the build process, rather than trying to correct mistakes from the build later down the road. Once your website starts to gain some traction and get traffic, and as your site grows in size and pages are added, the risks of doing massive structural changes grows along with them. For example, when sweeping permanent redirects go into place to correct poor internal architecture or highly dynamic URLs, there is a big risk of rankings and traffic losses for at least a short period of time, and I’ve seen some sites fail to recover at all. This sometimes leads us to decide not to make the sweeping fixes because the risk is too high, and the sites unfortunately end up stuck with poor structure permanently. On top of that, it is costly to you to pay for work to be re-done that should have been done correctly to begin with. No one likes to pay twice for the same thing.
3. Taking a holistic view of the future of the website.
With all the moving parts of a website, it’s important to understand and balance the best practices for each of the disciplines that go into it. There are best practices for the development and building of the website, then for the design, then for the internal architecture, content creation and beyond, and we have to help them meet in the middle for the best possible website outcomes. This requires a well-balanced, holistic approach that considers the long view of the brand.
When I say holistic, I am also referring to the different marketing channels you will use in the future. For example, if e-newsletters will be part of your marketing mix, you will need to work that into the web design and development. If social media will be in play, you will need to include easy access to connect with your brand on the social media sites, and make it simple and streamlined to share great content socially from your website.
They can also take into account the mobile usage and needs of your target audience, and ask the right questions to understand the future plans for your brand and the website. An inbound marketer can help map out the future needs your site could develop and account for them in the website build. It’s important to build a website that is scalable as your business and customer base continues to grow, so every time you want to make a drastic change or addition you don’t have to tear down the whole structure and start again.
Do it Right the First Time
One-dimensional thinking when it comes to what is most important on a website is a thing of the past. No longer can you excel at only one feature of the site (say, the SEO) and expect it to be successful at drawing traffic. Search engine rankings are now dependent not just on the keyword optimization of your content – that’s old news. Search engines also consider factors like multi-device accessibility, informational architecture, page load times, and engagement metrics such as bounce rate, pages per visit and time on site. All of these come together through the intersection of development, design and content optimization.
If this sounds overwhelming for you to manage on top of everything else you have to do for your business, I highly recommend reaching out to an inbound marketer to help facilitate the conversations and drive the process of a successful, strong website launch. (Hey, I do that!) They can help you think of the right questions to ask in advance, map out the optimal structure of the website, and help build your site right from the ground up.