Many new website owners have a perception that their website may not be fulfilling its purpose if it’s not being found in the first few results of a Google search. This is usually when we have the ‘SEO’ talk with a client, where I explain that it’s okay if a website’s not setting the search rankings on fire from the start. Take it from me, it’s an expensive adventure to get your website into the rarified air that is the first page of search results for generic search terms. But there are ways to optimise your website content yourself without or before having to go to aSEO specialist.

There is an exception as usual – if you’re not getting found when someone searches specifically for your business/brand name then there’s probably something wrong. Unless the name of your business is something like ‘The Coffee Shop’ in which case it might be time for a re-brand.

Search engine visibility is an important consideration for all websites of course, but it would be impractical to measure a website’s success based on how search engines rank it. That’s what Google Analytics is for – seeing how people engage with your site once they’re on it. If your website isn’t engaging or relevant – it really won’t matter how many visitors you get.

For those who don’t know yet, here’s good old Google’s definition of SEO:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or unpaid (“organic”) search results.

I prefer to guide people towards ‘Website Optimisation’ rather than Search Engine Optimisation. Which basically entails building your content with the audience in mind, while recognising the importance of content structure and target keywords which will impact search engine results.

I think the term SEO often spins the uninitiated into a minor state of panic. ‘I must use this SEO stuff to make sure everyone will find my website’. Let me reassure you right now, SEO is good, but it is by no means bad or detrimental to your site if you haven’t considered it yet. This may surprise you, but as long as your content is well written, structured well, relevant to your brand and you’ve used headings and page titles appropriately – you’ve actually optimised your content for search engines already.

I’ve had some interesting conversations about the pros and cons of SEO and I found the following subject particularly interesting:

Consider this, do you really want your business to come up in some search results alongside your direct competitors? Really? Have a good think about it.

Do you think it might be better to create brand awareness for your business, so that people know what name to look for when they fire up their web browser? That would really cut through the clutter don’t you think? Try it for yourself – search for a brand name (like Coca Cola) and see where that brand’s competitors appear in the results.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very important that your site gets found when someone searches for something relevant to your business or your brand. So SEO will always need to be considered. But wouldn’t it be nice if your audience already knew your brand so your website didn’t have to fight your competition for search engine rankings?

Where do you think you should invest? In advertising and strategically marketing your brand or boosting website traffic through engaging an SEO specialist? There’s no right or wrong answer and it does depend on the nature of your business, but regardless, it’s something worth considering.