Lessons from an Invisible Website: 3 Important Takeaways

Learning from others' seo mistakes

Embarrassing proof of what can happen to a brand’s search rankings and revenue when details are overlooked.

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Two weeks ago I wrote about a well-known consumer electronics manufacturer, and a game-changing mistake they recently made on their website. I had stumbled across embarrassing proof of what can happen to a brand’s search standings (and revenue) when even a single detail is overlooked.

That cautionary tale wasn’t just about the importance of dotting i’s and crossing t’s, though. There are at least three other important things Directors of Marketing can learn from this.

#1: Don’t Propose on the First Date
Research your web development and digital marketing partners thoroughly. Better yet, partner with an agency that can do this vetting for you. Mistakes like the one I discovered can happen to anyone, no matter how long they’ve been doing this. What separates the experts from the noobs, however, is a willingness to check and double check our own work, and then test it in the real world.

Regardless of what led to that company’s website being noindexed, it should have been caught first by the team responsible for it. Failure to catch and fix something this significant should be one of the few unforgivable mistakes of SEO.

What this means for you:
Before you hire a partner for any digital project, shop around and ask hard questions. Talk about relevant experience, ask to see detailed reports showing previous wins, and ask about a time they couldn’t meet a certain goal. Also remember, this is not a job for your IT department.

#2: Verify With Your Own Eyes
There’s a reason we’ve all heard the advice, “never assume.” Not only do assumptions have the potential to embarrass us, but in the business world they can hide really, really important things.

In my recent example, several people involved with the website project—from at least one developer up to the CEO himself—assumed their web content was being indexed and served by search engines. The saddest part of that story is that any one of them could have made the discovery I made if they’d only taken a few seconds to Google their own business name.

What this means for you:
Trust your partners, but take the time to see evidence for yourself. Best case scenario: you’ll learn more about the work they performed, and why they did it that way. Worst case: you’ll find something scary like I did, and stop the bleeding sooner.

#3: Monitor Forever (and Ever)
Home rotisseries aside, “Set it and forget it,” might be the worst business (and SEO) advice of all time.

We’ve talked before about how digital marketing is a business lifestyle choice, not a one-time project. But this is worth repeating: smart SEO needs to be performed early and often.

A big part of that SEO strategy is permanent, ongoing monitoring. The watchful eye of monthly reporting and analysis is where your data turns into actionable insight. Needless to say, during the extended period the aforementioned company’s website was absent from search engines, they weren’t spending any time monitoring and analyzing their web analytics. And if they were, there was an empty chair at the table where an experienced digital marketer should have been.

What this means for you:
A modern, user-friendly website is a great foundation for any business. But on its own, it isn’t enough to be successful in today’s marketplace. The kind of web traffic you expect—in both quantity and quality—demands ongoing SEO work and regular analytics monitoring.

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