Sink or Swim with SEO

Other than a badly made coffee, there is nothing more gutting than to see businesses being poorly advised by SEO agencies who have ended up doing more harm to a website than good. Over the past few months, we have seen a shocking increase in clients who have spent a fortune on building SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategies alongside their brand new websites … and the results are often far from expectations. With access to a website’s backend, SEO agencies with very little web design and development experience, often interfere with the look and usability of a website to try and game Google’s rankings with black hat practices that often don’t even work. 

Google Search is a key part of any customer decision-making journey and is often the first port of call when wanting to find a product or service – especially with the rise of online shopping and e-commerce which has only accelerated since the pandemic. For this exact reason, upholding great SEO practice is essential for any successful business. According to Hubspot, 75% of users never look past the first page of web search results… so you need to make sure you are ranking on the first page! 

As a result, the immense pressures to uphold fantastic SEO forces businesses to reach out to agencies in the hope to rank on page one of a web search. However, when agencies claim to be able to get you to the number one position with a few simple ‘hacks’ there is often a level of assumed trust that these optimisation ‘experts’ know their lemons from their limes when really, that may not be the case.

 

 

SEO VS UX

There is no doubt that SEO is an important practice that helps us to rank highly in search engines, but when SEO begins to compromise the user experience of a website, it is pointless. 

You’re probably thinking ‘what does user experience (or UX) have to do with my website’s SEO?’ Unbeknownst to most, user experience directly impacts your Google page ranking. Why? Factors such as bounce rate (how long a user stays on-page), mobile optimisation, page load speed and page navigation are all signals for a search engine as to how well your site is performing and if it’s fulfilling your user’s needs. 

On far too many occasions, we have seen websites ruined in order to make fonts more ‘readable’ or through stuffing as many keywords as humanly possible onto web pages. We have also seen similar issues when SEO companies desperately try to hit massive word counts and, in the process, completely destroy a browsing experience by presenting way too much copy in a completely indigestible format, without any thought to the retention of good, clear brand messaging. Search engines such as Google and Bing have made it extremely clear that they put their users first, so decreasing the user experience of a website for the sake of ‘good SEO’ will impact ranking … and not in a good way.

A great rule of thumb to follow is that a good experience for the search engine crawler is also a good experience for the user. Otherwise, you will be penalised for breaking the rules of Google’s SEO Guidelines

 

 

SEO SOFTWARE

When developing an SEO strategy it can be too easy to get sucked into the abundance of SEO tools that offer to solve all of your SEO problems. Google Search Console, SEMrush and Moz are just a few tools that can examine your website and provide you with a detailed breakdown on how to improve your site. 

Years ago, it really was as easy as typing in your domain name and seeing whereabouts it ranked in Google. However, over the years, Google’s algorithm has become so complex and is affected by so many variables, that it can be difficult to determine how well your site is performing. 

SEO tools are a great starting point for suggesting improvements such as looking at page load speeds, reducing image size or making your fonts more user friendly; but things have come a long way in the past few years, with Google constantly updating its algorithm, and relying on software alone can come with its own risks. Software will give substantial insight into your website’s performance, but an experienced SEO specialist will analyse the data in order to implement the necessary solutions, and make sure that they don’t adversely impact the design, UX and overall communication of the brand messaging.

 

 

SEO ISN’T ALL BAD!

Now don’t be mistaken, we aren’t saying that all SEO is bad, because it’s definitely not. What we mean is that it shouldn’t compromise the user experience of your website. There should be a balance between UX and SEO, as both contribute to the success of a high performing website. In an ideal world, both SEO agencies and Web Design agencies would work collaboratively to create the perfect strategy. 

SEO is very important in determining a website’s architecture, for example, keyword research can determine which pages should be prioritised in the structure of a website – as well as what these pages should be named or what they should focus on. This is why specialists and web designers/developers should work closely together in creating a neat architecture to help search engines contextualise a website when crawling it. Similarly, if there is an SEO requirement for a large amount of copy on an optimised web page – making sure this doesn’t impact well-written messaging, or a layout that is purposefully visually minimal, should be at the forefront of any decision making. There are always ways to cleverly position copy, and retain great visual impact, clear brand messaging and a killer UX.

For the past 10 years, we have worked closely with SEO wizards, The Click Hub, and collaborate with them to develop many of our client websites, as well as our own. This way, it is assured that both design and SEO are considered in tandem, stay uncompromised, and are top tier. Every. Single. Time.

 

HEAR IT FROM THE EXPERTS

As living and breathing proof that black hat practices are a thing of the past, we asked The Click Hub to shed some light on red flags you should look out for when hunting for the right SEO company. Here’s what they shared: 

“A red flag would be an agency that disregards the fundamental SEO aspects of building a website and focuses on ‘keyword stuffing’ pages and ignoring the experience of the user completely.

Search engines see any ‘keyword stuffing’ as a negative because the algorithm is far more sophisticated and looks to provide the best answer/experience for the user – rather than just looking for the exact phrase they have inputted.

Google is not looking for the web page that has included the keyword/keyphrase the most times, but the web page that best solves a problem or answers a query for the user. Therefore, a good UX also = good SEO.”

If only it was as easy as stuffing a bunch of random keywords into your website copy … we’d all be SEO experts! But no. Search engine optimisation requires a range of skilled techniques that simultaneously optimises your ranking on search engines, integrate seamlessly with the design and UX, and follows the strict and ever-changing guidelines enforced by Google. 

 

Bearing in mind all of the above, we want businesses to have the best SEO possible whilst not compromising on design. It’s devastating to see any great website trashed by poor-quality SEO agencies and totally goes against our concrete ethos of web beautification. 

Are you in need of some support? Get in touch with our epic Web Design Team, or our SEO experts The Click Hub.