SEO companies should focus on… SEO!! A lot of the time however, we’ve seen and heard of SEO companies insisting on other additions, such as building a completely new website from scratch, rather than optimizing the site that the client currently has.
Although there are a few rare instances where it is more beneficial to build a new website, a lot of the time it is simply unnecessary and may actually be doing more harm than good.
In this post we go through some key points related to building a new website for SEO, including:
- why an SEO company would try to sell you a new website
- some of the most common reasons they’ll likely give you as to why you need a new website
- In what cases may you legitimately benefit from getting a new website
Why might an SEO company try to sell you on getting a new website?
1. They might not have the ability or patience to work with your Code / Web Developer Platform / CMS (Content Management System)
Every type of website configuration is different. It can be built on different coding languages (HTML or PHP), different web builders / CMS’s (WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, etc.), using different tools and different plugins.
A lot of the time, if a SEO tech hasn’t worked on a specific configuration, they may just opt to recommending building a new site, for a number of reasons that we’ll get into shortly. Sadly, out of pure laziness or incompetence, they may just attempt to sell you on building a new site, rather than figuring out your site’s current configuration.
2. It takes time to build a website – further stretching out your campaign duration & allowing themselves to make easy profits.
Building a proper website takes considerable time – no one really denies this. However by virtue of this fact, it’s easy to get a client locked in and paying while their site’s being “designed” and “developed”. Often times too, the company will bill the client for their SEO campaign while charging them extra for a new website, insisting that their new website is being built in accordance to SEO standards.
A lot of the times this is all merely to extract more money for the client, when they really don’t need a new website!
Ok, so it’s pretty obvious why an SEO company may try to sell you a new website when you really don’t need it. The reasons they might give you as to why you may need a new website, however, can be pretty amusing. We break down some of the most common ones below:
Reasons an SEO company may give you to explain why you need a new website
1. To “increase” website / page loading speed
This is the classic and most common reason we’ve heard.
It is true that page loading speed is one of the key SEO ranking signals and is super important to ranking high. However, this doesn’t mean that just because your website is built on a specific platform, that it automatically suffers from slow page loading speeds.
What’s even more bewildering, is that often the method in which the company may propose to build the new website may in fact result is slower page speeds than your current configuration.
9 times out of 10 a company will propose to build your new site on WordPress (if they even get to disclosing these details). All-in-all this is a good idea, as WordPress sites are easy to build, easy to edit / update, and there’s a reason that a majority of the world’s websites are indeed built on WordPress.
However, not all WordPress sites are created equal, and depending on the theme, plugins, and functionalities that your WordPress site supports, it may be bogged down by significantly low loading speed.
Here for example is a website that’s built on WordPress that has immensely low page loading speed, because it’s built on a host of external 3rd party plugins that bog it down.
2. Your current website build isn’t “mobile optimized”
There is absolutely no doubt that in this day and age, a website must be mobile optimized in order to have a chance at ranking well on search engines.
If your website isn’t mobile optimized, sometimes the most sensible solution may in fact be to build a new site from scratch. However, in some cases, only a few tweaks may be required to get to get a site to meet mobile optimization requirements.
If for example the website is built fully just on HTML, you can simply & easily tweak the content for different screen sizes using a styling framework like Bootstrap. Rather than building a completely new site, your digital marketing / SEO company should include this as an option (perhaps for an additional cost as a bit of web development is still required).
It may also be the case that a mobile version of your site does exist, it just hasn’t been configured for mobile dimensions. Website builders like Wix have an option to design specifically for mobile screens – although this has to be done manually. It may just be that this was never done, and creating a mobile version of the site can be very simple to do, rather than building a completely new site.
3. Your current website build doesn’t allow you to add / edit essential elements
It’s true, that it’s quite annoying working with a website builder / CMS that doesn’t allow you to make specific customizations. However, most of the major website builders that we’ve already mentioned, do allow you to edit / add / customize the most essential things you’ll need to optimize your site for SEO.
Indeed, some smaller obscure website builders prevent you from doing certain things – such as adding tracking codes – and those might be legitimate reasons to want to build a new site from scratch. However, these cases are far and few in between.
Most web builders are good enough to make the optimizations that are needed, and often the things that they don’t allow you to do aren’t that important. For example, some website builders don’t allow you to use a specific heading tag (h1, h2, etc.). However, the game of SEO has changed and not being able to add in a specific heading tag is no longer detrimental for SEO, as it used to be.
Unless your web builder / CMS has very little options for customizations, there is often no reason to need to build a new site.
When might you actually need a new website?
1. The current site is built on an outdated HTML format
If the website is built on an HTML format that precedes HTML5, it may make sense to build a new site, for the long term. A lot of old elements used in versions before HTML5 aren’t being used any more, and the new HTML5 offers certain additions, such as semantic elements, that can have a positive effect on SEO, and are in accordance with current web coding best practices.
It’s not necessarily an “urgent” requirement to rebuild your site if it’s made on a legacy version of HTML. However, in the long run, you’ll want to have the site rebuilt, so it may makes sense to do it before starting your SEO efforts.
2. The current site is built on a very restrictive website builder / CMS
Related to the point discussed earlier – if your website builder / CMS is truly that restrictive that you aren’t able to make most essential tweaks, you might want to rebuild the site from scratch. However, as mentioned earlier, most of the major website builders offer more or less everything you need to do proper SEO, so it’s not really needed if you’re using any of those.
You also have to evaluate the trade-off’s between what your restrictive web builder is able to do and what the benefits would be of replacing it. Some web builders / CMS’s are made for specific industries, such as real estate, and have unique integrations and functionalities for that industry / type of business. It may not make sense to rebuild your site just for SEO, if you loose those functionalities.
3. You need to make custom modifications to reach accessibility compliance
In some jurisdictions, there are laws mandating companies of a certain size to have to have their site built in accordance with accessibility norms, for individuals with accessibility issues (disability, visual impairment, etc). In Ontario, for example, companies of a certain size must be AODA-compliant, and must meet a host of specific website accessibility requirements.
If your company is based in a jurisdiction that has such requirements, the business absolutely should have a new website build that fits these requirements (there are also significant penalties involved if this isn’t done). These cases are often quite rare however, so first make sure that you do fit into this category within your jurisdiction.
4. The website has an ‘outdated’ layout and isn’t mobile optimized
User experience and how users interact with your site play a huge factor in regards to your site’s ability to rank high on search engines. If your website is built with an outdated retro looking design, your user experience and interaction metrics will suffer, and so will your SEO rankings as a consequence.
If your website has a very outdated and weak design AND it isn’t mobile optimized, you absolutely should consider building a new website. A lot of the times it simply makes more sense than going and tweaking the existing site, and the benefits it will have on SEO and user’s perceptions of your business are significant.
These are just some general guidelines to gauge whether you actually may need a new website. As mentioned, in most cases websites and the platforms / CMS’s they’re built on are often fine as they are, so it’s worth understanding why exactly you are being recommended to get a new one made before making the decision to do so.