Today, there are literally more than a billion web sites on the Internet and every web site owner craves the free traffic that top search engine rankings provide. The problem is that only a very select few make it to the top of the rankings for each search phrase. If your site does not rank well for search phrases that people frequently use in a search, your site will never receive the benefit of free traffic.
What makes one Web site rank higher than another?
That is a complex question that only a thorough web site evaluation can answer. The answer is complex because there are literally hundreds of aspects of web site design and development that can either help boost your rankings or hinder them. A good web site evaluation therefore addresses both sides of the equation.
- Are there any issues with the site’s design that prevents it from ranking well or issues that may be penalizing the site?
- Are certain elements that are important to search engine spiders missing from the site which may result in the site not ranking as well as if could?
There are long lists of possibilities related to each of these issues that can usually only be discovered through a detailed web site evaluation. It’s basically a matter of turning over 100+ rocks to see if something ugly crawls out—and knowing what to do when it does. While it is typically not too difficult to find problems if you dig deep enough, it can sometimes be difficult to find the best solution once damage has been done. Sometimes there are situations that require a completely new design in order to resolve the issues.
Most Web site owners are not aware that Google, MSN and Yahoo each have long lists of undesirable Web site elements that are used to penalize sites. Most common infractions of search engines’ Webmaster Guidelines result in reduced rankings, which means the site does not rank as well as it naturally should. Severe violations can result is a Web site being banned from a search engine’s database. Most violations are not intentional and many are the result of common practices used by webmasters and web site designers for many years.
Web Site Evaluation Methodology
A good Web site evaluation is more than just dealing with search engine issues, although improving search engine rankings is typically the driving factor.
Good Web site architecture and code structure can be important for both search engines and users.
Web site performance must be evaluated. Sites that render quickly impress users, while sites that load or render slowly cause users to abandon the site and look elsewhere.
Good usability and product presentation gives customers a comfort level that builds trust and helps drive sales. Amateurish looking Web sites cause users to question the professionalism of the site owner. These and many more factors are reviewed with a thorough web site evaluation.
The Goal Behind a Web Site Evaluation
An evaluation should result in a list of tactics to be applied to the site owner’s marketing plan with the ultimate goals of improving the flow of qualified traffic to the site and converting more traffic into customers. Improved search engine ranking is a primary goal, but it should not be the only goal, because a top ranking is not a guarantee of more business. Web site performance, professional design, usability and product presentation all help to convert more visitors into customers.