Monday, April 6, 2009

The purpose of the website...Integral to an SEO plan

Purpose of the Website…The first step to any well laid out SEO exercise…
I have read quite a few books on Search Engine Optimization but I have yet to come across one that mentions this as the first and foremost step.
How can you fiddle with something as important as the FACE of the company without knowing what it’s there for and what it is required to do!!
As mentioned in my previous post, knowing the purpose of the website in the beginning ensures a long term search engine friendliness because doing what the VISITORS LOVE would eventually give you SEARCH ENGINE’S LOVE and for knowing who the visitors are and what they want, you have to know the purpose of the website.
Imagine the different ‘tricks’ to search engine optimization as spices that would enhance the taste of a dish (in this case the website) for your visitor. Knowing ‘WHO’ is going to visit you, would tell you what kind of a dish would he like and hence, the combination of the different spices would vary accordingly. Therefore, while in some websites, you would like to optimize through the bulky content, in others it would be navigational ease and linkages or maybe just the right placement of keywords.

Just like you would not add sugar in the dish for a Diabetic, similarly, a lot of navigation, information and “6,54,321” step process is not good for someone who has just a minute to make an online payment. In this case, you would like to play with other spices like, placement of keywords, inbound links etc and not make it content heavy.

Fiddling with the wrong set of ‘tricks’ would give a momentary increase in page value but not sustainable as the unhappy visitors would not revisit and hence, a decline in popularity leading to a decline in page value eventually.
There could be multiple purposes why a website is there:
  1. Making sales: Measured by the number and amount of sales, time taken, bounce rate etc.
  2. Providing information or data: Measured by checking if a particular task got completed or information got viewed.
  3. Lead generation: Measured by number of leads generated, percentage of total visitors etc.
  4. Social networking: KPIs like number of people accessing these sites, revisiting them and frequency of visits.

A good SEO plan should help meet the purposes cited above and not compromise them in order to achieve a short term higher rank on the search.

So, how do you get to the purpose of a Website?

MEETING THE RELEVANT PEOPLE and unfortunately these are the ones missing the most.In a lot of cases, the relevant people are the marketing people. These are the ones who have answers to all the questions below and get affected by the KPIs above.

Having answers to the questions below would give a good enough idea of why exactly is the website there? (Please feel free to append this list!)

  1. What is the product or service the company is providing?
  2. Who is the target audience?
  3. What is the website/ webpage supposed to do?
  4. Who is the primary audience for the website/webpage?
  5. Who is the secondary audience for the website/webpage?
  6. Profile of the primary and secondary audience?

Since any SEO plan would encompass changing content of the website in terms of changing information, replacing some words with keywords, their placement, internal as well as external links, doing this without knowing what the page is for could be disastrous.

Apart from the marketing team, another team which could prove to be quite helpful is the web analytics team.They could help you with the recent data on what the website was primarily visited for? This in turn can be mapped with the ‘Actual’ requirements from the website.

Let me explain with the help of an example: This is a website of a company that manufactures a variety of RTE products. In order to gain popularity, they have made certain recipes using their products. While this is not the purpose of the website, some traffic is desired for it as well. However, the web analytics shows that the website is primarily visited for location search or job search or ‘about the company’ information.
SEO can use this information to popularize the website for recipes as an additional task!!
Way to go!!
Please do provide me your feedback on what you think of this post and if something can be added to it :)

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