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Link Building: Is it Better to Have an Ugly Duckling or a Beautiful Swan?

Jul 3, 2008
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around does it make a sound? No, by definition to have a sound you need a person there to hear the falling tree. Same rules apply to SEO and link building. You can build the "beautiful swan" of websites, one that has rich graphics, great story telling and a topnotch user experience, but what if no one was there to visit?

Rephrasing the original question; "If you build a website that no one visits, does it exist?" The answer varies depending who you ask. If you ask the design company responsible for the beautiful website, then the answer is "yes!" If you ask a search engine optimization professional, then the answer is probably "no" because even though the site physically exists it is invisible to the online community.

Beautiful Swan Website:

The most beautiful of websites will not mean anything if you are unable to bring traffic to your site. The "beautiful swan website" is one where the focus is so wrapped up in the appearance of having a beautiful website that the purpose of the website is lost in translation. Wonderful graphics, colors and storyboarding will not mean anything if you cannot bring a person to your website and convert the person into performing a desired call to action.

Before web developers and other creative thinkers start a mob, consider the issue of a website that is purely SEO-focused.

Ugly Duckling Website:

An "ugly duckling website" also has its share of issues. These websites have no shortage of traffic, they probably rank well for targeted keywords, but their downfall is when a person ultimately visits their site they either do not perform the call to action or abandon the website. These sites typically have a lot of text; at times enough to make a creative advertising person cringe and too often grammar that brings chills to an English major.

Ugly v. Beautiful:

Which would you rather have, a beautiful website with no traffic, or an ugly website with no customer conversions? There is no correct answer to this question -- answers are a matter of personal preference. Both websites are ultimately ineffective.

Website Makeover:

If you have a website that ranks well, but does not perform because of usability, you need to seek out the advice of an experienced web design firm. For example there are many Atlanta, GA web design firms that can assist with developing the message of your website's call to action requirements.

Beauty is in the Eye of the ROI Stakeholder:

If your site is already aesthetically pleasing, but you are finding you are not getting enough traffic and conversions then it is time to be modest. Think like an ugly duckling. Your site might not be ranking well because relies too heavily on graphics and not enough on text. If on-page text isn't an issue, but the website is still invisible, then its time to talk link building.

The Importance of Link Building:

Want to rank for a keyword phrase? Then you need links to your site from other sites that use that targeted keyword phrase as hypertext. For example, to rank for Atlanta online marketing you need the phrase "Atlanta online marketing" linked to your site from another website. That is a major component of how search engines identify what your website is about and a major factor in how your site will be displayed in a potential customer's search results

Link building is the backbone of the Internet. The Internet is essentially a giant "web" of these interlocking links that connects one site to another. As part of an Atlanta, GA SEO agency there is an irony that can be observed with experience; some of the most beautiful sites are virtually invisible and some of the ugliest sites rank and perform well. There are many more variables into what makes a site successful than beauty alone. Beauty can help a website once a visitor arrives, but without the work of link building, that website may never get the chance to convert the customer because the customer might never have know the site existed.
About the Author
As a member of the Atlanta, GA SEO agency TwentySix2 Marketing, Keith Hanks focuses on helping website clients interested in Atlanta online marketing services.
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