Most SME’s in Ireland do not have an IT department. Of those that do not many of them have somebody that specialises in Search Engine Optimisation.
Surprisingly many firms still fail to see the need for any SEO services. There are thousands of Irish business sites that do not even cover the basics of good web practice.
What I’m talking about here is conforming to W3C standards. Check your own site now on this link http://validator.w3.org/
Just enter the url of your site (http://www.mysite.ie) and press return. Did the screen go green and give you a congratulations message. For most of you the answer will be no.
Some of you may be quite angry about this, having paid “professionals” to do your website for you. It may look great but if it does not comply with web standards then it is sub standard work.
If you ask them about it they will probably tell you that it’s not important. Too many “SEO professionals” hold this view.
Google on the other hand disagrees. In their webmaster guidelines good code is listed as one of the many things that you should ensure your site has in order to rank well in google.
Why then do any self professed and experienced professionals in Search engine Optimisation claim that it is of little importance?
Their experience has taught them that even a site with bad coding can be made to rank well in all the search engines. Rather than taking a holistic look at your site they concentrate on one or two activities like link building. They even get results.
So why am I harping on about web standards? That’s simple. Your results could be better. In practice you can get away with a few short cuts on any website. But ignore too many of Googles guidelines and you will be giving your site less than a helpful start.
The other more salient point is that you have paid for a service, and should expect it to be of a reasonable standard. If a builder leaves out your damp course and tells you “It’s not that important, sure isn’t your house still standing” you would not take it lightly. So why would you allow a website builder to take short cuts on your business web site (unless of course you don’t like your business).
Good code is a solid foundation on which to build your online presence. Without it you are off to a shaky start. Pseudo web developers have been getting away with it for years because you don’t know any better.
There are no professional organisations to ensure standards. I couldn’t call myself a doctor in the morning, but there is nothing to stop a doctor calling themselves a web developer.
Arm yourself with knowledge when you are getting your website done. Acquaint yourself with the W3C validation tool on this post and with others that will appear as this blog develops. Talk to more than one designer/developer. Check the sites they have done. Check how they rank in Google. Find out exactly what they propose for your site. After all, your site is your shopfront to the entire world.