A friend of mine is engaged, and I am to be one of her bridesmaids. As a four-time bridesmaid, I’ve unfortunately been to more wedding blogs and bridal shop websites than a sane human should. Some are fantastic, doing everything SEOs recommend: engaging and well-written content, a solid back link profile, good information architecture, attractive designs and clean code. And as with any industry, a large number are poorly designed and built, and even more poorly optimized.
Recently, my friend and I were going wedding dress shopping, and she sent me to the website of the bridal store she’d chosen. I was slightly horrified.
I’d like to say this was one of the worst wedding sites I’ve seen, but the errors they were making are quite common to sites across sites in all niches. From keyword stuffed content pages, to duplicate content, and spammy back links, this shop was doing nearly everything SEOs consider to be wrong.
Whether this hurts organic traffic, of course, depends on the niche. The wedding industry is pretty cut-throat, and unfortunately the search engines have proven that techniques like this often do still work. In fact, the bridal store ranks #2 for [bridal store mississauga], likely one of their most coveted keywords. They are outranked only by a shop in Mississauga actually named The Bridal Store. Not bad, right?
But how does a badly optimized website reflect on potential customers?
I asked my friend what her impressions were prior to visiting the store. She admitted, “yeah, the website sucks.” But she actually hadn’t chosen the store because of, or in spite of, the website, but because a friend had recommended it. Had she found the site via a search, she might not have been so eager to dress shop there. I know I was a little reluctant that the store would be any good.
First impressions are important, and a website is often the first encounter potential customers have with a brand. It can be as important as the store front for brick-and-mortar businesses, so why wouldn’t you want to put your best foot forward? Perhaps a personal recommendation can overcome the impact of the website, but what if the potential customer is discovering you for the first time via your site?