Business owners have been too eager to skimp on good content for their websites. A website is a store front. Treating it like it it's something less worthy of investment cuts into your ability to succeed.
Thanks to search ranking algorithms that have rewarded links more than website and content quality for a decade now, this sort of worked, because you could just hire someone to manipulate your ranking through link building, and still get traffic. That reality is coming to an end. Google is ranking user friendly, high information websites over those with high link counts.
Spending money on design and written content is analogous to hiring an interior designer and an in-house expert to advise your customers in a brick and-mortar store. It's time to end persistent attitudes among business leaders that the following compromises are OK:
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- Content is too expensive, let's:
- Buy it from India
- Let an inexperienced, underpaid college kid do it
- Skip it
- Design is too expensive, let's
- Buy it from India
- Make someone who isn't a designer put something together in-house
- Hire your cousin
This hurts your business. Thanks to Google's algorithm progress it's worse than ever.
You need good Web design.
The atmosphere in your shop has an effect on your guests and just like letting the paint peel off of your walls in a restaurant, a bad and outdated looking store affects the visitor's willingness to stay, buy and recommend you to other people.
It's important that you present your business as an organized, trustworthy and informed institution. Your visitor will not feel confident that they will get the item they paid for if your website looks outdated, unprofessional or otherwise sketchy.
The overwhelmingly common approach to this problem in the business world is narcissism. It only takes a cursory look at the internet to see clearly that awful design and thin content is the rule, not the exception. Yet it seems like every business owner and executive who has cut corners, sees this and thinks it's not them, but everyone else who has bad websites. No, "they" got a great deal. Everybody else is a sucker. Statistically though, if you cut corners to save money, there is a high chance that your website is among the poor quality ones.
It's no different that hiring your friend's friend to do a welding job instead of going to a pro. It might technically be functional, but it's far from confidence inspiring.
Businesses have managed to get away with bad websites thanks to search ranking manipulation using SEO techniques, often beating out better websites, getting traffic, and making the sales they need. Thankfully, that is changing.
Google's algorithm is being updated regularly and is approaching a level of sophistication that will soon make traditional SEO techniques ineffective.
You need good content.
The goal of the Google webspam team has always been the same. To rank the websites that the user wants to find, so that they get the experience that they are looking for. As Google's ranking algorithm approaches that goal, your best bet for ranking in that search engine isn't to manipulate your signals through link building and keyword stuffing (traditional SEO), but to offer what users actually want.
Websites that have large amounts of content with a consistent topic now rank higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) than websites with high link counts. A major "quality update" in 2015, among other recent Google updates seems to have pushed websites into the territory where ranking manipulation through link building is finally being eclipsed in search results by website quality. It's a good day for users.
It's also a great opportunity for businesses. Where there used to be an incentive to invest in ranking manipulation instead of something that is useful to our customers, we can now rank and drive organic search traffic by having the highest quality content.
Websites with a high quality of content, without keyword stuffing or artificially produced backlinks, are beginning to reach page one. This is especially good news for pure ecommerce shops, which are notoriously difficult to get good links for, and we are seeing it happen right now. And this content isn’t relegated to blog posts that may or may not drive sales traffic.
We are starting to see more and more often, well designed sites are putting their content right where their products are. The sites that are seeing the returns on their investments aren’t peddling fluff, but instead are providing relevant information aimed to assist in the buying process.
This approach is helping push niche ecommerce stores past the web giants like Amazon and eBay -- because their visitors are able to see the knowledge displayed by these smaller sites. Even better, while this type of content appears to aid in ranking, it also inspires customer trust. Which any good store owner, ecommerce or otherwise, will tell is is absolutely crucial to making the sale.
This page for instance, on ZiloRings.com selling Lashbrook brand rings, offers more information about the brand than the entirety of the manufacturer’s site does. The page provides targeted information that customers shopping Lashbrook rings may want to know about, from the history of the company to the manufacturing process. They are not relying on links to rank. It's a fully realized content based SEO strategy. The content is right on the shopping page, which lends itself to the needs of anyone searching for Lashbrook rings, whether their purpose is informational or with intent to purchase.
It makes perfect sense really. Matt Cutts and the rest of Google's webspam team has been saying for years and years that the user is their priority. It was only a matter of time until we would reach the threshold where they would succeed in finding a balance that puts the user in charge, and prevents subpar websites from pulling the right strings to come out on top anyway.
For a solid decade now, we have been used to the idea that SEO experts control who sees our website. We just get a lot of the right links on decent websites, with the keywords we want in the anchor text and we get the traffic, the sales, and the profits. We competed less over who had the best website, the best product, the best user experience, or the best information. We mostly fought over who could mess with the google algorithm more effectively. That tide is turning.
The future is user oriented, because Google is user oriented.