Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The State of Your Website: Do You Even Know What You Don't Know?

Last week we presented a simple formula to help you decide if SEO is the right choice for your website. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you expect to profit from your website?

2. If so, do you know how much traffic you receive on a daily/monthly basis?

3. Would an increase in traffic increase your profits?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, your website is likely a good candidate for SEO. As we noted last week, the traffic drop-off between the first, second, and third result on a Google search is quite significant: from 33% of the traffic, to 18%, and 11%, respectively.

If you're currently the third result or lower, what stands between you and first place (and a significant increase in traffic) is some form of website optimization.

We say website optimization here, instead of SEO specifically, because for many industries the top result is achieved simply with good design and development. Design and development are part of a good SEO campaign, but not all websites with good design and development employ SEO.

And believe it or not, many top-ranked websites do not even have good design and development. They receive their ranking by happenstance or good fortune. This is especially true for local businesses.

This might seem to be a case against SEO. If an industry-specific local business can achieve the top Google result--and a majority of the traffic--by happenstance, what good is SEO?

The truth is simple: for many industry-specific searches, no website is employing good design and development, and no single website is employing good SEO. In this case, Google is left to chose the best sites based on whatever ranking signal is relevant. If one site has more content than the next--even if the content is sub-par--well, than, all else been equally bad, the site with more content will likely prevail.

If you own a local business--and this is the majority of all businesses, from hair salons to law firms--we hope you see the possibilities here. A simple re-design of your website, with good design and development could easily land you the top spot. A good SEO campaign can keep you there.

This is why our sponsor, Stepman's PC, often promises quick results--in a month or less. Depending on your industry, you could stand to gain significant ground with a few simple changes. The challenge is when the top sites are well designed and developed, and employing SEO. Then you simply need to do better.

The problem for many website owners, frankly, is that they don't even know what they don't know. Honestly, though, this is not a problem specific to website owners. As Art Markman writes for Harvard Business School:

"You probably don’t know as much as you think you do. When put to the test, most people find they can’t explain the workings of everyday things they think they understand.

Don’t believe me? Find an object you use daily (a zipper, a toilet, a stereo speaker) and try to describe the particulars of how it works. You’re likely to discover unexpected gaps in your knowledge. In psychology, we call this cognitive barrier the illusion of explanatory depth. It means you think you fully understand something that you actually don’t."

If this is the case for a zipper, it's certainly the case for website design and development, and of course, SEO.

Recently, Alex Stepman, of Stepman's PC shared a simple case of this principle.

A local business wants to compete in an industry-specific field, yet it's website is woefully lacking. In terms of ranking, it doesn't even appear on the first page for an industry-specific search. However, the business considered their own website to be "beautiful" and "informative." When asked about their development, the owners responded, "Top notch."

The owners were certainly surprised, then, to learn that one of the most basic components of the site, the page headers (represented in code by <h1> , <h2>, <h3>, etc.) were not adequately promoting the site. The <h1> header simply named the company without noting the industry. Unless someone already knows the name of the company, this information is worthless. A better <h1> header would've been specific to the industry--in this case "Philadelphia hair salon." Furthermore, the website was lacking description tags for each page.

This is just the beginning of the website's problems--yet it was all news to the website owners. As we noted above, this situation is not unique at all. For some industries, it's closer to the norm.

So, again, do you see the possibilities? If this is what you're competing against, you can easily trump the competition. The key is first accepting that you do not even know what you don't know. The next step is learning about website design and development. Finally, to truly compete and stay on top of the rankings, you must learn about and employ SEO.

To get you started, we suggest reading our series on building a website:

1. Website Design
2. Website Development
3. Content Creation
4. Conversion

Beyond this, we suggest browsing our articles to learn more about the possibilities of organic SEO.


If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers, you also deserve a well-optimized website. Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need the astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional.

Stepmans PC is now offering a free mobile website audit. Contact Stepmans PC today to learn how you can improve your website's mobile performance: 215-900-9398.