“Is getting a good search engine ranking pretty straight forward?”
No, It certainly is not! The subject of search engine rankings is HIGHLY complex and it is a mechanism which is constantly in a state of change. Some of today’s “rules” will not apply next month. The key is for us to follow all the tried and proven basics and avoid “tricks”. The “trick” which someone develops to promote their webpage to number one this month is the same “trick” which can have their webpage banned and buried in one or three months time. The people behind Google and Yahoo hate artificial tricks designed to get around their ranking formulae and when such devices get discovered (as they always do) the offending website gets punished severely.
The folks at Nambucca Graphics know more about website optimisation than 90% of other web developers although we don’t know as much as we’d like. Nevertheless, rest assured that we try very hard to keep up with the latest “wisdom” available on search engine optimisation. Trust us to do a decent job for you without charging a fortune.
“What can I personally do to maximise the number of visitors to my website?”
It’s a big question but also a very important one. Here’s some concise and useful answers.
- Make sure your website address is mentioned on all your business stationery.
- Arrange for your website address to be mentioned in your Yellow Pages advertisements and other large Australia directory sites.
- Ensure your website address is included in ALL your advertising (especially printed adverts).
- Make sure you’ve asked Nambucca Graphics to optimise your pages for important key words.
- Check that Nambucca Graphics has submitted your website to major “free” Search Engines.
- Ask to be listed on specialised portal or gateway websites for your town or your industry.
- Include your website address on all building and vehicle signage for your business.
- Create an “auto signature” on the end of all your emails which includes your website address.
“We’d like you to create our new website with some nice photos but a minimum of text”
There are some serious implications if go down the “minimal text” route. Search Engine robots will visit your website on a regular basis to check the content of each webpage within your website. But remember that Search Engine robots cannot read pictures. The robots can only read the on-page text and the text we insert in hidden code behind your web pages. What each of those two categories of text contains is fundamentally important to your future and on-going search engine rankings. Therefore if there is insufficient text and if we have not carefully woven your important key words and key phrases into that text on multiple occasions, then we’re unlikely to achieve good search engine rankings for your most important key words and phrases. Always remember… content is more important than looks! Of course we always try to achieve excellent content, easy navigation and attractive appearance for all of our website clients, but content is king!
“Just put the basics into our website. We want people to then call us for extra info?”
Many new clients have made this request. In particular, many were against disclosure of their prices on the web and say, “we want prospects to call us so we can feel them out and negotiate a price which is acceptable to them and to us depending on our circumstances at the time”. Forget it… that doesn’t work in a web environment. Many prospects will visit your website when you are sound asleep. They want the info now and often want to make an immediate decision. Why should they wait until tomorrow to call you? Why should they waste time on a phone call anyhow if your competitor’s websites contain all the required information they need to make a decision? And consider the psychological perception of your sales prospects. Most will figure that if you haven’t disclosed critical info like the price, photo and full details related to a particular product or service, it is probably because you fear the facts will turn them away without you having a chance to influence them otherwise. It’s just another reason for them to not bother chasing up the info which should have been in your website in the first place.
“You’ve just finished my website. Why can’t I find it with a Search Engine?”
Your new website has to be optimised for Search Engine recognition and then we have to individually submit your website to multiple search engines on your behalf. We always do that as a matter of course following completion of a website project. However, please be aware of the following limitations.
- We do not submit your site to Search Engines which require a large up-front fee.
- It can take weeks or months before an individual search engine begins listing your site.
- There is no obligation upon any Search Engine to list your website in search results.
- You are in competition with many similar businesses, all seeking high prominence.
- It is not productive to telephone or email any requests to search engine companies.
- A good search engine ranking can be influenced by skill, luck and how much you pay.
“How long does it take for Search Engines to list my new website?”
It varies according to the individual Search Engine and other variables. A few useful but less prominent Search Engines will have you indexed within a week of us submitting your website to them. A number of others seem to take around 4 to 10 weeks. With some Search Engines you can pay a hefty “Express Submission” fee to jump to the top of the Review queue. They usually guarantee to review your website within 2 to 7 days but the cost is heavy… usually about $200 to $400 American dollars!!
“I want to appear on page 1. when someone searches for “left handed widgets”
Well everyone in the widget business wants to achieve the same result. This means you are in competition with the whole world wide widget industry. That’s why you need an expert to create your web pages and then submit them to Search Engines on your behalf.
We at Nambucca Graphics have literally put thousands of man hours into studying this subject and engaging in experimentation. It’s impossible to discuss it in a meaningful way in this forum. You have to put the matter in our hands and trust us to do a good job. We’ll do our absolute best but remember, search engine results can never be guaranteed.
“Can I get a top ranking right off the bat?”
It is possible to get a reasonably good ranking following the first submission. And provided your site is managed by an experienced professional, your rankings will slowly improve with the passing of time. Search engines seem to take the reasonable view that many new sites don’t last very long, whereas older sites must have proven to have been popular and therefore relevant.
“I want my website to have a lot of ‘key words’ so I’ll do well in Search Engines”
Sorry but this is a far more complicated matter than you may imagine. Allow us to give an over-simplified response to this quite complex subject. Firstly, the more `key words’ we use, the less weight will be given to any individual key word or phrase. Secondly, it’s pretty futile for us to simply put key words into the hidden meta-tag code of your webpage unless the same key words are properly supported and re-used in the body text of the visible webpage. For those reasons it is very important for us to target a smaller number of your ‘most important’ key words. About 8 to 20 key words is a nice number. The actual arrangement of those key words is also quite important.
“Should I still spend money on advertising”
The short answer is “yes”. Whilst your new website is the greatest and cheapest promotional asset you have, it will be MUCH better if you support it with thoughtful but inexpensive media advertising. Place many small and relatively inexpensive advertisements which have a headline “hook” followed by your website address. These could be either small “display” adverts or they may be one to three column centimetres in a newspaper’s classified columns. Consider the following inexpensive example of a tiny 4 line newspaper classified or Yellow Pages advertisement.
ABSOLUTE BEACH FRONT
Lovely NSW holiday cottage
Phone (02) 6649 7742
You see what has been achieved? The above party spent $20 or $30 for a tiny black and white advertisement but effectively delivered readers to five large pages with lots of photos and all in full colour. What a bargain!!
“I sent you some changes for my web pages but you didn’t do them exactly as requested”
Clients often ask us to modify web page words or phrases which we originally used precisely to help achieve a higher ranking in Search Engines. Of course we recognise that your pages can’t contain misleading information. However frequently clients ask us to make changes, which may only be a matter of language style rather than meaning. If the requested change will seriously punish the site’s Search Engine ranking we will often “modify the modification” in an attempt to largely satisfy the client but without harming the website’s Search Engine potential.
“I believe some Search Engines charge a fee for listing. What’s your view on this and is it really worthwhile?”
Yes, there’s an unfortunate trend towards having to pay search engine listing fees. Fortunately there are still a few important Search Engines which do not yet charge. To answer the question precisely, we DO think it is worthwhile for SOME clients to pay such fees if the Search Engine concerned is important enough….but ONLY if you’re a medium or large sized business.
The fees of some major Search Engines are in the range of $US150 to $US400 per year! We don’t recommend that small businesses consider this significant extra investment because the cost for such businesses may outweigh the possible benefits. Small businesses should probably confine themselves to the main free Search Engines.
“Some outfits offer to submit a website to 1000 search engines for $30 or less. Is this a good method for getting my site listed?”
No, forget it! You’ll receive heaps of emails offering to arrange this but there are less than 12 search engines capable of doing you much good. Some in this important group want a big fat upfront fee. Many others won’t accept automatically generated computer submissions such as those employed by the outfits you mention. These types of offers are mostly going to submit your site to multiple “directory services”. These are primarily designed to collect e-mail addresses. Many of those “1,000” directory services will subsequently sell your e-mail address to direct marketers. Before long you’ll be swamped with unsolicited and unwelcome e-mailed “offers”.
There’s no simple way to get good search engine rankings. Your pages have to be carefully crafted to optimise your chances and then they need to be hand submitted by someone who knows the score. Nambucca Graphics takes care of this very important matter for most of our clients as part of our website development service.
“We keep getting these unsolicited offers from people saying they can improve our Search Engine rankings. Should we investigate it further?”
No, don’t waste your time or money on such offers. Those emails are sent out in the millions to anyone who has a website regardless of the strength of their search rankings. I’ve even received such offers for sites which ranked in the first three places on all the major search engines and for all their most relevant key words. How can they possibly offer to improve on that for heavens sake! It’s just another internet scam designed to exploit widespread public ignorance of such matters.
“Should I submit my website to Search Engines or leave it entirely to you?”
Look, there are so many pitfalls that it’s much safer to leave it to us. “Over-submission” for example can even send you lower down the ranking lists or have you banned. And if you accidentally submit to a site masquerading as an important Search Engine you could be deluged with unwanted spam mail.
“What is a ‘Portal’ or ‘Gateway’ site and how does it affect me?”
The terms “portal” and “gateway” mean the same. They are websites which usually specialize in a certain subject or a certain locality. It is very useful to be listed in such places as long as the fee is modest and provided you’re confident that many visitors do in fact enter the portal concerned.
For example, we own and operate a portal site at www.nambucca.com.au which specialises in information about the Nambucca Shire in NSW. We also developed a portal site for the Shark Bay Tourism Association at www.sharkbay.asn.au We developed another site www.motormegasite.com.au which specialises in the Australian Motor Industry. Another portal site was created for the Australian Pump Industry which you can view at www.pumps.asn.au These sites get plenty of visitor traffic and only charge a small fee to be listed. This is the kind of opportunity you should look for in portal sites which specialise in a topic which is relevant to YOUR business and is prepared to list your business with a clickable link to your website.
Being listed in portal or gateway sites is a perfect way for small businesses to get extra visitor traffic into their website even though they can’t spend much money on other forms of promotion.
“I’ve got some terrific search engine rankings with Google but I’m way down the list for the same search via MSN”
The first thing you need to know is that every search engine has its own particular way of indexing your website and giving you a ranking for various key words or phrases. The exact methods are ultra secret and even change on a regular basis.
Over time it is possible to gradually figure out quite a lot about how each search engine works. Unfortunately it is still not possible to maximise any one page so that it does really well for all your important key words and for every different search engine. Each search engine is different and each key word or phrase is a new challenge.
For most websites we can use our specialised knowledge and experience to get you some really good rankings with one or more important search engines. We generally succeed in getting you reasonably well ranked with some other important search engines as well but perhaps poorly ranked with the rest. These are the facts of life and it’s a much better result than most websites achieve. Don’t let anyone tell you that a better result is easily (or cheaply) achieved.
It’s possible to go several steps beyond this type of result. It involves us creating a number of so-called “doorway pages” each of which is optimised to rank well with a particular search engine and for one keyword or phrase. This naturally involves an additional investment on your part. We would NOT recommend that you consider any such extra investment until fully assessing what we have been already able to achieve on your behalf. Very few clients consider it necessary to go the extra mile (with its attendant additional expense).