In the past few weeks I’ve been approached, twice, by people obliquely seeking help promoting their sites on search engines. One of then knew enough to call what they wanted “SEO” and they both approached obliquely, though politely, obviously looking for free advice while pretending to inquire about my services and fees. I couldn’t help either of them. SEO is hard and best left to specialists (more below), but that’s not why I couldn’t help. I couldn’t help because in both cases they LAST thing they should have wanted is for a prospective customer to see their website.
The websites were awful — amateurish, busy, gaudy, with no obvious value proposition, and in both cases with embedded YouTube videos created with a laptop camera with no attention to backdrop or lighting and with no script and, from the way it looked, no rehearsal. Professional services being offered in a completely amateurish context, and you don’t have to be an expert in online credibility to understand that isn’t going to net you many clients. Maybe none.
Before you make any attempt to attract visitors to your website, make some effort to encourage visitors to interact with the site once they get there. Be sure, first, you understand what you want people to do once they get there then make it very easy for them to do that. Making it easy for people to interact with your website is called design and it doesn’t involve adding things to the site to overwhelm people with content and it requires more than saying, like folks did when the web was young, “Feel free to look around…”.
Your site doesn’t have to be beautiful, though that helps, but it does have to be useful.