Search engine optimization is all the rage these days – everyone once their site “optimized” for keywords, content, etc. to rank highly in all the major search engines (mostly Google, though). I’ve noticed potentially disturbing trend among several of my clients, however. I call it “SEO paralysis”.
Here’s how is goes. Your website is ranked fairly well in the search engines, and you are getting decent traffic from searches. However, your site has some problems. Customers complain about the navigation, they have trouble finding your products, for instance. Or maybe you want to re-organize the site a bit in a way that reflects your current business.
But wait – making changes to your site *might* cause your search engine ranking to drop…so you hesitate. You want to make life easier for your site users, but not at the expense of organic traffic. So the paralysis sets in. You hold off on the changes, or make very small tweaks here and there, but don’t address the real problems.
So what to do? Well, there’s no guarantee of search engine traffic. Even if you don’t change your site, your traffic can fluctuate based on new competition, or changes made by the search engines themselves. But, as a consultant, I generally shy away from these situations. I don’t want to be blamed for any changes in search engine ranking – so when a client brings that up, I back away. Even if I think the changes will ultimately help the site, I can’t guarantee what will happen to SEO in the short run.
My advice to website owners is this – Do the right things from an SEO perspective, but never put off fixing problems with your website due to SEO concerns. The first priority should be making your site useable and valuable to your customers. The organic traffic will follow. Keep in mind, that search engines are incorporating new ways to “grade” websites – so if people coming to your site can’t find what they need, your site may suffer anyway.
Keep the end user in mind, and the rankings will take care of themselves.