When you compete in a running race, there’s a few things that we generally assume:
- You have a functional set of legs and an understanding of how to use them
- You have (at the very least) a reasonable level of fitness
- And it helps if you’ve done some training and/or other preparation for the big race
None of the above points provide any guarantee that you’ll win – they simply mean you’ve got the basics to participate… but there are a lot of other smaller factors that we often don’t think about, yet greatly impact on how you perform in the race and whether or not you’ll even be allowed to run.
For instance, if you turned-up on the day of the race completely naked or with a bomb strapped to your chest – the only race you’ll be running is away from the cops.
Another random consideration could be your running shoes. While a comfortable pair of shoes isn’t necessary to run, if you were wearing Dutch clogs, you’ll perform a lot worse than someone wearing a pair of Nike’s.
But even owning a pair of good running shoes isn’t enough – the shoes need to fit, plus they need laces and you need to know how to tie the laces (or at least know someone who can do this for you) in order for the shoes to stay on your feet once you start moving.
I could go on and on about every minor and seemingly unrelated detail that needs to happen for a successful race to take place, but you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with SEO?
While all of these points may seem like common-sense when referring to a running race, there are many similarities to owning and marketing a website. Many website owners will be aware of the big things (like having legs and knowing how to use them) and some will even appreciate that they’ll need to have done some preparation and training… but it’s all the little things that are overlooked.
Having a visually unappealing site is not unlike turning-up to a race naked. If you use a content management system which hasn’t been updated/upgraded/patched or modified in years, it’s most likely full of security holes. This means it’s easy pickings for hackers, and once your site is infected with malware it will be flagged by Google and you might as well have turn-up to the race with a bomb strapped to your chest.
If your site is lacking in functionality, has broken links or is simply too difficult to get from one page to another, you’re running wearing clogs. Sure, you will still make it to the finish line, but it’ll take you a lot more time and effort than a site that is streamlined, efficient and easy to use.
Some sites might look nice, are easy to use and even incorporate features such as blogs or utilise other social media. This is brilliant and not only helps with getting your pages indexed faster but also acts as a great marketing tool… but simply having such features and not using them properly is like not tying the laces on your Nike’s causing them to fall-off a few feet into the race.
Like any race, there are no certainties or guarantees – so you should never stop training, ensure you have the latest and greatest running shoes and always keep your ears open to the hints and tips offered by professional trainers and experienced runners. After-all, SEO is more of a journey instead of a destination.
But the sites that tick all these boxes (along with the countless other little factors) are the ones that have the greatest chance of winning. And even if you don’t come first, at least you’ll know you weren’t the overweight, one-legged, naked guy wearing a wooden clog and a bomb on their chest.