When SEO is an afterthought for your website there are a few factors that come into play in regards to rectifying it. The immediate issue is usually content related. You may have some really great content on your site, content you are proud of, content you have shown your family, content that you dream about. Ultimately though, if it is not structured in a certain, key phrase orientated way, you can be sacrificing potential triggers for the search engines. Gone are the days where keywords were the main focus, if they were then our job would be getting used to copy and pasting. It really isn’t. We have structured content in a slightly different way, never detracting from the clients own style of writing, and have seen considerable improvements for their chose search terms. This is just a few changes in written content. Other factors involve correctly naming images so that instead of google seeing “Hp2t_teachingclass453.jpeg” it sees your relevant search phrases. This is obvious once you know but it is something that almost 100% of the time is overlooked by our clients, sometimes even the builders they have contracted to do it.
Website building and SEO should go hand in hand but a lot of the time they don’t. Now I am not slagging off professional website builders because they have the capacity to do a hell of a lot more than I can design wise and make websites truly pop out of the screens, but you can pay big bucks for a professionally designed website and chances are the SEO will be basic if thought about at all. If you are looking to pay big bucks and get a website built for you then I recommend a conversation about SEO before you start anything. Find out what the plans are for it, how they are going to implement it and what the aftercare packages are like because good SEO is not a one off activity.
But I digress, I will be writing a post about the importance of upkeep in an SEO campaign but right now we are talk about builders.
Now there are a lot of enticing offers out there in regards to free builders with a domain, free builders with a domain and an email service, free builders with a domain, email service and 3 wishes, the list goes on. If you are looking at the free builders then I suggest you think about the long game and make sure that the functionality of whatever builder you are thinking of choosing is going to be future proof as your business expands. Website migration options are there for a reason.
We have moved a few of our clients over to our preferred builder (WordPress) purely because the functionality options are, to say the least, extensive. We had a particular client on a particular builder not getting any particular rank positions, we moved him across and he immediately started getting more impressions. Certain builders just have a language that Google speaks to a bit better.
Another issue we come across, time and time again with the more obscure builders, is heading tags. Heading tags should be a nice, easy way of saying to google “hey, this section is an important one, give it the credit it is due” but when the simple act of changing a heading tag means removing a particular section of the page, creating custom CSS code or altering every bit of content on the site associated with that particular heading tag, it becomes a task that increasingly eats into allocated time, thus costing the client more money.
Speed optimisation is another. Some builders simply do not have a way (apart from altering content) to speed the website up. You rely totally on the hosting provider which is usually also the same company. There is a lot to be said for keeping things simple but that does not apply everywhere and it definitely does not apply to your website. With complete customisation to speed improvements the only issue arises when software conflicts, and this is reasonably easily fixable.
Next on the list is design. Now don’t get me wrong, some of the simpler builders do have some nifty design options and they can look amazing, but when it comes to customising their particular elements it all falls down. I worked on a website where the client wanted a simple box behind some text over a picture slightly bigger. Was there an option to do this? No my friends, there was not. It took research on google, numerous CSS trials and an eventual hatred for forums that I am not sure I will ever completely shift. The amount of questions relating to these subjects floating about on the internet, unanswered, gathering binary dust is staggering. There are solutions but again, it boils down to much more work than choosing the correct builder.
There are roll back issues with certain simple builders too. When making changes to site it is good practice to run a staging site ( a replica that only you can see) then implement all the changes to makes sure that nothing breaks. Well if this isn’t an easy option then changes get made without testing, and this can be a problem. I did some work on a site where I moved the menu around so it displayed in a different, more efficient way. It altered the entire site. Who knows why but this particular action altered every single bit of styling on the site. It took a long time to rectify and although we swallowed up the cost it meant that people who use this particular builder are now bottom of our list of people to work with. The immediate response to realising the unintentional site changes was to get in contact with the builders service team and get a roll back to a previous change. When confronted with “we can’t do that” for something that is a staple part of other builders services I was convinced, knock another builder off the list of builders we want to work with.
Fortunately we are in a position where we can pick and choose our clients but I do feel sorry for emerging companies that have to take these sites on and hope that nothing too bad happens. It really impacts on results and customer satisfaction. Luckily for me the client in question was one of the nicest people I have worked with and understood the issues. If they hadn’t been quite so nice then our interaction could of occurred very, very differently!
Anyway, as usual, take these points away and make sure you think about them before starting your website on a builder that might turn round and bite you in the backside a few years down the line.