“Change begins at home”—IKEA
Any attempt to increase the ranking of a website needs to begin with the website itself. The best links in the world can’t help an awful website, whereas a ruthlessly optimized site can take you a long way towards the ranking domination you might be aiming for, even before you start adding links. Aspects such as your website structure, the text on each page, optimization of titles and meta tags and usability factors like speed and mobile friendliness all impact a website’s ranking either positively or negatively. In many cases, they impact it significantly and quickly. Trying to promote a poorly-optimized website is like pushing water up a hill, whereas promoting a well-optimized website is like pouring it downhill.
The chapters in this section will show you how to make your website as ‘Google friendly’ as possible. We’ll share the optimization tactics that have unlocked significant ranking increases quickly and, in some cases, led to traffic growth within weeks.
Always remember the 10 million dollar question:
Does this website look like the sort of website that deserves to rank at the top of Google?
If your answer is no, then this section is particularly important.
First, some words about different website platforms:
I, along with many other people who like getting to the top of Google, use WordPress websites. WordPress is an awesome (and free!) platform that makes it dead easy to maintain your website. If you’re starting your website building activities from scratch, 99 times out of 100 my advice would be to use WordPress.
As well as being easy to use, Google really likes WordPress and finds WordPress sites very easy to read. Plugins (again, mostly free) enable you to add whatever functionality you like to a WordPress site without expensive development and by working with a professional designer and developer, you can be almost totally unconstrained by the layout you want for your site. In fact, pretty much the only time that we’d recommend a non-WordPress website would be for large eCommerce stores or custom platforms and even then, only when we’re talking thousands of product lines.
If you’re now really concerned that your website is not WordPress, fear not. A well-built and well-optimized website will rank well on Google, whatever platform it’s built on. We get a lot of emails along the lines of “My website is great and works really well, but it’s not WordPress. Do I need to get it rebuilt in WordPress?” The answer is “absolutely not”. Here are the only situations when we’d recommend considering getting any website rebuilt:
• You don’t like your website. You will not push it as hard as you can if you don’t actually like it. This is often overlooked, but important.
• Its conversion rate is extremely poor (i.e. it has traffic but brings you very few leads or sales).
• You’ve requested a free Exposure Ninja website and digital marketing review (https://exposureninja.com/google-book) and the recommendations aren’t possible on this current website.
• You have little or no control over your website’s contents, are unable to change the words on each page, or are unable to add blog posts without forking out a lot of cash. You will need to be doing this regularly, so it should cost you little to nothing or you might be disinclined to make the updates.
• It’s not mobile-friendly and your developer quoted you an eye-watering amount to make it mobile-friendly.
• Your developer is the only one with ‘the keys to the castle’ and they suck (i.e. they are unresponsive or incompetent).
• Your website is heavily flash-based. If so, kill it with fire immediately. t will never rank and flash is being retired imminently. Old Wix websites fall into this category (new Wix is just about okay, just).
• Your CMS is no longer supported by the developer. We had a client recently who was forced to rebuild their entire website, purely because the development company that built it used their own custom platform. The development company went bust, stopped supporting the platform, and the client couldn’t make important changes to the site. An otherwise usable website had to be scrapped totally.
Basically, you or someone on your team will need ongoing access to your website to make the changes required to get it to rank. If this access is expensive or difficult, it’s time to consider a change.
There are three reasons we recommend using a Content Management System like WordPress for your website:
1. You will have greater control over the content on the site and will be able to update it more frequently, for example, by writing a blog, which will have huge benefits for SEO.
2. A lot of the on-page SEO we’ll be covering in this book is much easier and quicker if you are using a CMS like WordPress.
3. If you want to change the look, feel or layout of your website later on, you can do this relatively simply and you won’t have lost all your content or on-page SEO. You can never fully ‘future-proof’ a website but this is as close as you can get.
If you’d like to know more about moving your site over to WordPress, just Google “exposure ninja moving over to WordPress” to find a blog post I wrote to guide you through the overall process. Feel free to tweet me @timninjakitchen if you’d like a second opinion on whether a rebuild might be necessary.