Should success be defined by how good-looking the site is and how well it represents your business image? Or is success how much time visitors spend on the site, or the number of pages viewed, or the number of new visitors? Is website success how high the site ranks in Google for targeted keywords? Or should website success be measured in tangible conversions such as sales, or leads captured, or whitepaper downloads?
Clearly a website can attempt to reach a number of goals. But how many goals are too many for a single website to try to achieve all at once? Anyone who’s worked as a website project manager has experienced “death by committee” – where a number of stakeholders in the business all want a say in how the site looks, what goals it must achieve, and how it should function. It ends up being a “too many chefs in the kitchen spoil the soup” situation.
A humorous way I like to pose the question to a client is, “if your website was stuck on a desert island and could only do one thing for your business, what would that one thing be?”
Many times I and others have run into the opposite scenario, where a business owner had not considered that the site should have specified goals!
Magic Fairy Dust & SEO
“A funny thing happened on the way to becoming an author…”
I fell in love with SEO completely by accident. I wrote a few books on public speaking and wanted to sell more of them on a website, so I figured I’d have to learn about that thing called “Search Engine Optimization” – whether I wanted to or not.
At that time, I figured that SEO was a bunch of insider tricks & techniques – magic fairy dust I could sprinkle on my website so it could rise to the top of Google, I’d sell zillions of books, and be rich. I figured that all I had to do is find those people with the Magic Fairy Dust and learn all their tricks.
In my career as an SEO specialist, I’ve discovered that many website owners share the mistaken belief I used to have; they want me to sprinkle the SEO Magic Fairy Dust on their website so it can dominate Google, and they’ll be rich.
I complete understand their mentality; I used to suffer from the same delusion. I wish it were that simple and easy!
SEO comprises a surprisingly large number of factors, but can be oversimplified as on-page/site factors and off-page/site factors. On-page factors include things like site architecture, proper use of Meta data, quality relevant content, and other factors. Off-page factors include how many other sites link to your site, and what your online competition is doing. Whether you’re creating a new site from scratch or revamping an existing site, without properly assessing all the relevant on- and off-page factors – and without careful consideration about the goals of your site – you’re shooting in the dark hoping for “success”.
Unfortunately, many business owners only consider SEO after a site has been live for some time, and they’re ready for the Magic Fairy Dust. But really, SEO should be built-in, not bolted on.
Successful Rescue from a Desert Island
Setting aside all the things your website should do and be, a simple way to boil down your website goals from an SEO performance perspective is in 3 areas – ranking, traffic, and conversions.
While opinions may vary on site appearance and usability, ranking, traffic, and conversions can all be measured and monitored objectively. Website success is taken out of the realm of feelings or opinions and subjected to measurements everyone can see. And, measuring your website’s key performance indicators means you can make data-driven decisions and not operate on hunches or what the highest paid person in the room thinks.
Ultimately, by establishing clear, measurable goals and metrics that are valuable and meaningful to you in your business, you define what website success really means to you.