Optimize the website by putting lipstick on a pig if it is not performing well. Here’s what to do to make sure your site succeeds in SEO.
You have landed a new client, and you’re digging into the website. But, one look tells you this is not going to be easy.
Sure, you could do some SEO actions to make the client happy. But there’s giant fish to fry. The information is outdated, it’s not well written, and the formatting is hard to read. Moreover, the website looks old, and the CMS is bulky.
The customer has big expectations of your SEO program. What do you do? There’s an old saying about putting lipstick on a pig. Sure, you can “do some SEO.” But you know we need to address the fundamental issues to succeed in SEO and rank on Page 1 out of millions of results.
At this point, you need to get honest with the client. It can be a tricky conversation; what if they don’t have the budget for what you are offering. You must prepare to walk away from the project or get innovative with the budget because neither one of you will win if you don’t get it right.
There are two main categories you need to fix in any website before you kick an SEO program into high gear:
- The content on the website
- The technical back-end of the website
Updating the content
A common lipstick-on-a-pig error is when a client asks for more and more new content and fails to address the content they already have on the website. So it is important to encourage clients to divert equal resources to updating their old content in addition to creating new.
How to update the content on a website depends on the topic. However, in general, there are three things to consider:
- If the topic is evergreen
Some topics are evergreen, meaning the information can stay relevant for a long time. But, of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak and optimize evergreen pages for the best outcomes. It just means that there will likely be less work.
- If the question deserves freshness
You will need the most up-to-date content for a website if it is targeting questions or keywords that need the freshest content in the search results. A social or political event is one example. Google discusses that here.
- If the topic is deemed “your money or your life” (YMYL)
Google discusses YMYL topics in its Search Quality Rater guidelines (think financial or medical advice) and holds web pages that have them to a higher standard.
Moreover, to update the content itself, websites require a plan for how they will organize the content to get the most SEO value from it — and to create a better user experience.
It has things like navigation and how you link pages internally. SEO siloing and internal linking best methods are foundational SEO strategies that will facilitate your SEO program’s efforts if done well early on.
Read More: 8 Steps To Improve SEO Ranking In 2022
Updating the website
At first glance, does the website look reliable? Or does it have an outdated look and feel? But, then, what about the website’s performance — does it give a good user experience?
We must get these fundamentals before driving more traffic to a website.
Some things to work on straight away include:
- Spider-friendly code: The website needs clean, streamlined code. The search engine spiders can crawl with ease.
- The content management system: That custom CMS the client built may have been great at first, but it has SEO issues, and you can’t easily update things inside it. There’s a reason why WordPress is the most popular content management system as it is always up to date.
- Site speed: How fast a web page load affects the user experience, which is why it’s a part of Google’s ranking algorithm.
- Mobile usability: Most websites have a large number of people visiting from a mobile device. Websites need to be responsive to desktop and mobile users.
- txt: Robots.txt can block extreme crawling to ease severe strain and help bots find good content more efficiently.
- XML sitemaps: It’s the best method to tell search engines about the pages, images, and videos on a website with an XML sitemap.
- 301 redirects: 301s prevent error pages by redirecting old pages to newer, more relevant content as required. It can enhance the user experience.
- Fully qualified URLs: When you link internally and have the full URL starting with the “https:” instead of a relative URL, it can fix specific crawl problems.
- Canonical tags: The canonical link element tells search engines which version of a URL you want in the search results and can fix duplicate content issues.
- Server maintenance: Server diagnostic reports help you address common errors immediately to enhance the user experience.
- Plugins: For security reasons, update all plugins.
- The design: Ensure the web design/user interface is in keeping with modern functionality and trends. Usually, an update every three to five years works.
Of course, there are more methods to address the technical facets of a website, but this is the minimum to give an old website some new life. For more, an SEO checklist can help.
Just say “no” to pigs
As SEO professionals, we must advise potential clients in a way that sets them up for success. For example, if we know that what the client is asking for is just putting lipstick on a pig, then we need to be upfront about it. Cosmetic changes can add curb appeal and may be required — but don’t let the work stop there if the site is still just a pig.
SEOs must go above lipstick and create a good user experience to succeed. Updated content, Core Web Vitals, and especially page speed are examples of how SEO changes the pig into something better.
Moreover, we should be prepared to either walk away from a possible client who does not want to follow our advice or get creative and know how to make the most influence with their budget.
That may mean you address the fundamental issues of the website bit by bit on a slower timeline before booting it into high gear. It’s not the job of SEO to make a pig fly … it’s the job of SEO to change a website so that it becomes an eagle.