What is the single most important thing you can do to your website?

Many businesses have been looking at their websites recently and wondering what they should be doing to increase their revenue.

Of course, revenue follows on from successfully implementing SEO or SEM or Paid Search or Social Media or Content Marketing. Pick and Mix.

But few businesses — except the very largest — can do everything. Let alone everything simultaneously.

We’re in the real world here. Let’s do one thing at a time, starting from the first step.

What is the first step?

My answer comes as a surprise to some people, who expect me to say: ‘Write content’, or ‘Go where your customers are’ or ‘Buy the best-priced clicks you can’ or one of those usual pieces of advice you see on the web.

My advice?

Take a step back.

Get a Technical SEO Audit done by someone who knows what they’re doing. Your website is the unifying factor in all the above. Without a well-performing website, they all flounder. You’d be wasting your time, resources and budget.

Unconvinced? Let’s think about each in turn:

SEO or organic search — of course, content is the winning factor here (I almost said Content is King, though I’d have to put myself in cliché purgatory for a couple of days at least). But a website that can’t be spidered (plain English: can’t be read by the search engines) is one that will swallow all your painstakingly crafted content and never show it to Google.

If Google can’t read it, it won’t make any sense of your content and it won’t feature your pages in the search results.

These days, the other major black hole for content is a site that slowly serves up pages. The search engines will not think too highly of even the best content if they calculate that users won’t hang around long enough to read it.

There are hundreds of other potential technical problems that may stymie your online success, but the point is, your website must be highly tuned if it is to give your content — and therefore your business — a chance.

SEM, paid search and (some) social media advertising — here’s the thing, even with offsite digital marketing, you have to have a website that performs well, just like you were optimising it for SEO.

If it’s slow, outdated or doesn’t work for mobile, you’re wasting your resources.

Email and affiliate marketing — for the above reasons, if your customers are arriving at your website, it needs to be good. Or you’ll lose your prospects to a faster site with a more enjoyable user experience.

Content Marketing — all of the above.

But we’ve just had our site rebuilt by professional designers!

That’s great. Seriously. You should have a brilliant looking site. Really beautiful.

But the job may not be finished. Aside from promises of your new site being SEO friendly, have you had any in-depth discussions about page speed, site structure or image optimisation? If not, SEO and performance may have been ignored.

And that’s no criticism. My web design and development skills are minimal. Why should your design and/or development people know much about SEO?

It’s a different specialism. Let them do what they are great at, but don’t expect them to be experts at SEO.

As an aside, I work with a number of web design and development agencies to help them fine-tune their clients’ sites. They know without an audit and then putting into place the recommendations, a website is an F1 car sitting on flat tyres.

How often should you have your site audited?

It’s a good idea to have a technical and content audit (I’ll write about content audits in a later blog post) once a year. Websites do go wrong over time — software, hosting and people can all break things.

That’s why, for retained clients, I use monitoring tools to ensure nothing is missed and problems can be fixed quickly.

Want to have a chat? 

Let’s have a chat about your website and digital marketing.

Find a time that’s convenient for you.

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash