It’s no secret that many websites were negatively impacted by Google’s Penguin update rolled out in April of 2012. Even businesses that weren’t affected by the update were a little rattled and began to have questionable links removed. Now it looks like the next version of the update, Panda 2.0 is on the horizon. If you’re worried about its potential impact on your site, then it’s time to assess your site now.
Matt Cutts has become the spokesperson for Google and he was among the first to announce it officially. Many in the industry, however, have been anticipating an update for some time now.
For those not familiar with the first Penguin update, its focus was on black hat SEO tactics and web sites that were spammy. Much of its attention was on bad links.
At the heart of Google’s ranking algorithm are links, which they consider to be votes for a site. Many took this to mean that the more links to a site, the better it would rank. It didn’t matter if these were low quality links or worse, paid links. Google, however, wanted earned links. That people linked to a site because of its quality. Penguin was meant to eliminate everything else.
Duplicate content was another issue. Many sites either intentionally or by accident duplicated content from other sites. Affiliates often took entire chunks of content from the main website to save time. Others simply stole content to save time and duplicate the success of the original source.
Cutts classifies Penguin 2.0 is more comprehensive and will have a much bigger impact. These two statements should make businesses take a serious look at their site before the update takes effect.
If you’ve left your site in the hands of a SEO consultant or SEO agency, ask them about this and also what they’ve been doing on your behalf. If you’ve left them to their own devices and not paid attention to what they’ve been doing, your site could be at risk. While many SEO agencies are legitimate, there are a number that have used Black Hat SEO to cut corners. If you’re rankings suddenly plummet, you simply can’t plead ignorance and hope Google will return them.
How To Avoid Being Penalized by the Google Penguin 2.0 Update
If you’re worried your site is at risk, then have a professional review it. A site audit can detect issues with your site that not only could result in penalties, but also is presenting difficulties with prospects. An audit will also look for suspect links that could put your site at risk.
In addition to evaluating your current site and link building, begin doing your marketing the proper way. Google’s goal is to present the best search results for people. For your site to be included in their results, means having a quality site. Most often this involves having quality content, either through a blog, a PDF, videos, etc. Think in terms of what your customers want and you’ll likely succeed with the search engines.
If you’re concerned about being negatively impacted by Google Penguin 2.0 then contact me today. As a SEO consultant with more than 9 years’ experience, not one of my clients has been negatively impacted by any of Google’s changes.
Here is the video in which Matt Cutts discusses Penguin 2.0 and other upcoming changes.
Google Places is a great marketing tool for a local business. Where people used to use the phone book to look for a service or where to buy a product, they now often use Google. The problem is that while nearly all businesses have a Google Place listing, they often haven’t taken the steps to properly set it up.
Learning how to correctly set up a Google Places listing will make business stand out from the competition. Some question whether you have to do SEO for Google Place, but this isn’t entirely correct. There are elements of SEO in setting up a Google Places page such as links and keyword research. Yet, much of it is having verified data and contact information.
There is also confusion over what is the difference between Google Places, Google Maps, and Google Plus. I won’t go into that right now, but instead just want to focus on the first of these.
Editing Your Google Places Listing
Take Control of Your Listing. To edit your listing or add information you must first claim it. Type in your company name and address and look for a little red bubble next in the search results. Click on this to go the places page and look for manage your listing. You can then start filling in the information, but nothing will actually change until you've verified your listing, which actually will be the last step in the process.
Get your pin number. You can become verified by either having an automated call to your business number or a postcard sent to your address. This is to ensure that whoever is making the changes to a listing is either you, or someone working on your behalf. Either way you'll receive a pin number that once you've inputted gives you control of your listing. If you have more than one location you'll need to repeat the process for each.
Fill in the Information. Some of the information is already there, but now you can add a description, photographs, and videos. One of the most important entries is the service area. If you take care of people at their location, then mark this and put a distance around your location or list the areas you serve, either by name or zip code.
Choose Your Categories. You can add 5 different categories and while Google has many services listed, they often fall short. So type in any services you offer that aren’t listed. This is where SEO can be a factor as you want to use the terms most used by people looking for your business.
Take Advantage of Offers. While it may change Google Places allows you to run one of three types of promotions, (percentage off, money off, and free item). You are limited in what you can put, but you can add photos to make them stand out.
Getting Your Listing Found
The Google 7 Pack – The 7 pack is what people in the industry have come to call how Google displays places listings. So if you type in San Diego plumbers you’ll see some ads, then some websites and then a list of 7 businesses in the location. If you simply type in pizzas or plumbers you’ll see a similar grouping of businesses in your area. For some results however, Google will show less and in a very few cases, more.
Getting Into the 7 Pack – particularly if your typing in a business type without a city designation, you’ll often see results based on where Google thinks you’re located. And if you add a location, they still try to show close results. Yet, they also want to show the best results. So they’ll give prominence to those with good reviews and those with a number of citations.
What are citations – Citations are local directories that Google Places considers to be of the most value or most accredited. Again there is an element of SEO here as these directories should link to your site. Directories such as Yelp and Angie’s List and also a number you’ve likely never heard of are considered to be the best citations. This is why it’s crucial to be in these other directories. The benefit isn’t just that it helps with Google Places, but that they often have decent traffic, as well.
While these directories could seem to be like links and thus an element of SEO they aren’t. Even if you don’t have a website you can still have a Google Places page and get listed in most of the other local directories.
If you want to expand your business online, a Google Places page is a crucial element. If you’re not sure how to set it up properly, then bring in an expert, such as myself, to get the most value from it. If you’re interested in my SEO services, then Google Places optimization will be one of my first tasks. Contact me today for assistance.
It’s amazing the amount of effort that people go through to reach the decision makers of the industries they serve. They’ll spend a lot of money on email lists or they cold call a business in hopes of the off chance that they might need a product or service. I guess they must still have some success or else it wouldn’t still be done. Yet, its effective must diminish each day until eventually it will die away like rotary phones and TV antennas.
The ironic part to using purchased email lists or cold calling is there has never been a better time to connect with prospects and customers then now, especially for B2B companies. Instead of reaching someone on the off chance that they are in need of what you offer, you can connect with the people who are actively looking. To accomplish this, however, requires a change in marketing strategy.
One survey of b2b companies found that for 60% of the businesses surveyed, generating more leads is their primary goal. This makes sense, but how they go about it doesn’t.
The Problems With The Old Method of Getting Leads
The problem with emailing people from a list you’ve bought or created by going through web site directories is that people already are receiving too many emails in a day. It’s been estimated that 144.8 billion emails are sent each day and even this data is six months old. So unless it’s something they requested, it’s likely most emails aren’t being read. And if it’s being dumped in a spam folder then soon your email will be classified as such. Then even emails to people you already do business with won’t get past their spam filters.
Cold calling is just as ineffective. The odds of getting through to a decision maker are slim at best and if by chance you do, you have to be quick. Most business people are constantly busy so unless that person is actually looking for what you offer they’ll cut you off. Most likely, because they’re not familiar with your company’s brand. The survey revealed that 79% of respondents said it was important that they differentiate their brand from their competitors. Trying to do this in a short phone call is a fool’s errand.
The New Method To Generating Leads – Inbound Marketing
Studies have proven conclusively that the best way to generate leads, and the most cost effective is inbound marketing. The prospects looking for what you offer are searching online. If your site doesn’t rank for your products or services, then it’s your competition that is being found. And it’s not just enough to be found, you have to separate yourself from your competitors.
By having quality content on your site, you can engage the people searching. If they’re just starting out in the buying process, then having educational material on your site is critical. They are looking for answers long before they contact a business. According to a Forrester Research report, 50% of online buyers have made a decision before they even speak to a sales person. If you’re not reaching that group through your website, you’ve effectively cut your chances in half.
Even if the prospects aren’t ready to buy and won’t be for some time, they are still relevant prospects. Keep connected with them by letting them know about informative material you’ve just added to your site such as a blog. Or provide them with premium material they can read in their decision making process. If you’re the company they’re finding answers with, then you’ll be the first company they’ll likely contact when they are ready to buy. This is the email list you need to concentrate on, the one you’ve created yourself.
According to Forrester Research, companies with successful lead nurturing campaigns generate 50% more leads at 33% lower cost per lead.
Your sales staff should be concerned with closing deals, not dialing number after number in the hopes they’ll get a bite. Commercial fishermen don’t just use a single rod and reel in the hopes that fish will take their bait. They cast a wide net to get as much fish as they can. Think of your online marketing strategy this way. The larger the net you can create through your website, social media, and pay per click the better luck you’ll have catching the fish you need.
If you’re looking to use inbound marketing to generate leads and need help with strategy or content development, then contact me today. I’ll be glad to talk with you over the telephone about your business and then provide a no obligation proposal on how I could assist.
One of the best ways to understand how well your site is doing is through an analytics program such as Google Analytics. Unfortunately, many business people I work with not only don’t understand Google analytics, but aren’t even aware that it’s been installed on their site. They worry about getting traffic to their site, and then don’t seem to worry about what th
ey do after they arrive.
Learning how to understand Google analytics or any program installed on your website will go a long way toward improving user experience. By doing this you’ll also significantly improve your chance of converting theses visitors into customers. How To Understand Google Analytics
To understand the analytics you’ll first have to learn what some of the terms mean and how they reveal data about your visitors. Here are some data points to look at and how they reveal information about your site.
Bounce Rate – this is the number of visitors that arrive on a page and then leave without going on to any other pages. Many people ask what a good bounce rate is, but it varies not just among different types of sites, but also on your site itself. And sometimes a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing. Your contact page could have a high bounce rate it could be due to people calling your company. If your home page, however, has a high bounce rate it’s most likely an issue.
If you’re adding content to your site, then one thing to pay attention to is your overall bounce rate as well as time on site over time. Both of these should be improving if your adding content designed for your audience. If it’s not and this content has a high bounce rate, then it’s time to consider that this content isn’t very effective.
New vs. Returning Visitor is another data category that varies dramatically. If your site sells products you want a higher number of returning visitors. If you’re a b2b site, then new visitors should be higher. After all, most of your clients will have your email on file or your number programmed into their phone.
One thing you’ll also notice is that the data shows number of people who visited your site and number of visitors. This is because some people will visitor your site more than once, which can be good. They visited your site, then your competitors and now have returned to yours. What often skews this data is that many of these visitors could be you or your employees. One of the first steps you should do is to have certain ip addresses excluded from your data. This will make your number of visitors more accurate, as well as your bounce rate.
“not provided” is not a category, but a designation. One of the best things that analytics used to do was to reveal which search terms prospects used to find your site. Then Google decided this was an invasion of privacy and decided to lump most phrases together under a not provided designation. Ironically this privacy concern doesn’t apply to people who click on your ads, so this data is still available. In the future I’ll go over some ways to find out the phrases that do drive organic traffic to your site, but for now you do want to see this number increase regularly each month. It means SEO is driving traffic to your site.
Advertisers of the past would have loved to have had access to the amount of information that analytics provides. If you’re not taking advantage of the insight that analytics provides of your visitors you’re missing out on revenue. Because the longer you keep visitors on your site the better the chance they’ll become a customer.
The number of small businesses that continue to fail with their online marketing efforts is still surprisingly high. One only has to scan through the search results of Google for an industry to find any number of websites that are poorly done or fail to meet the needs of their visitors. Then look through local directories and you’ll find all sorts of unreliable data.
I was recently searching for a local health clinic and found their phone number on Google. When I called it, I was greeted by a loud beeping sound indicating it was their fax number. This was a million dollar facility and yet no one after all this time had corrected their local listing.
Many small business owners are losing a lot of money because they haven’t invested in SEO or worse, they have, but have been duped by unscrupulous agencies. Their competition is benefiting from their failures. small business SEO
Here are some ways in which small businesses are struggling. They think their web site is effective, they don’t know.
I’ve talked to many business owners about their website and a number would tell me the problem isn’t with their website. I then ask them how they know that and I’m often greeted by silence. Adding analytics to a site is a way to examine those actions of visitors. If bounce rates are high, then it’s a good indication the content is not meeting the visitor’s needs.They don’t devote the time to social media
A recent survey said 61% of small business owners Say they’ve received No ROI from Social media. Yet, 27% of those surveyed said they devoted less than one hour a week to social media and another 31% said they spent 1-3 hours. 5-10 hours a week is a better number one and one that is manageable for many people.They don’t respond to comments or reviews
. According to a survey, 95% of Facebook threads are unanswered and 71% of Twitter complaints are not responded to. Part of this probably relates to not spending the time to monitor social media, but there are plenty of tools available that would send them alerts when their company or their name is mentioned.They give up to early on blogs.
While examining a number of sites, I’ve often noticed that the blog they have, hasn’t been updated in quite some time. When I ask about this, they tell me that their blog wasn’t bringing in business and they had no visitors to it. So they’ve given up on it.
The problem is that blogs often take a while to show results. Nor can their success be determined by the number of comments they receive. My own blog has almost no comments and only a few subscribers. Yet, it generates hundreds of visitors to my site each month because people find information they are looking for. They Don’t Realize There Information Is Wrong
Imagine that you have taken out an ad in the Yellow Pages, but the phone number is wrong. You wouldn’t expect many calls would you? Yet, many online directories have wrong information, from incorrect phone numbers to wrong web addresses. According to one report 20% of local search sites have incorrect information.
One thing small business owners should do is claim their listings on all the major local directories, such as Google Places, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. Not only does this ensure your information is correct, but you can often enhance it by adding photographs, videos, etc. This will help it generate even more traffic.
If you want to build your business now and into the future you have to be found online. If you’re not, then either you need to concede your business to your competition or bring in an expert. I assist small and medium sized businesses with their SEO, social media, and pay per click campaign to help them generate more revenue for their business. Contact me today to set up a free consultation.
Twitter continues to grow not just as a social media platform, but as a communication tool. On news and sports shows more and more quotes are taken from Twitter accounts. Sports fans take to Twitter during big events such as the Super Bowl to vent or offer their assessment of the game. Miscues on Twitter have negatively impacted public officials. Yet, Twitters biggest impact could be on businesses, whether they are b2b or b2c.
For many small to medium sized businesses, a Twitter account is a way not just to generate leads, but also to interact with current and former customers. It should be integrated into any branding strategy and this begins with how you set up your account and how you choose your Twitter handle.
If you’re a one person business, such as I am, you have a few options. You can either do a Twitter handle for your business, one for yourself, or do both. My thinking is that if you do both, you’re going to have to devote that much more time to it. In my case, I just do one under my own name. If you’re a small business, with a few employees, than I’d suggest having a company name.
Setting up the profile is just as important, from the photos you use and the description you put in. Like a Tweet the description is brief, so each word is important. It should focus on who you are or what your company is about.
The next step is to begin tweeting. If you’re demonstrating you’re an expert in your field, then don’t just focus on your own experience and knowledge. Retweet other comments from people related to your industry and links to relevant articles. In this way you become a source for people in your field. This will also increase your number of followers.
I’d recommend doing a few tweets before starting to follow others. Chances are that if you only have a few tweets you’ll get only a few followers that don’t already know you. But at least by having a few out there, they’ll know what you’re likely to be posting.
For some twitter is a communication tool to engage with family and friends. My one son, for example, tweets to his friends about what he is doing or to make plans with them. If you have a business account, this is not the approach to take. Have a second twitter account for that. Especially business people don’t care about what you’ve eaten or some embarrassing moment. That doesn’t mean be non-personal, however. Giving your view of a sporting event or national issue isn’t bad as long as it’s done in moderation.
Here is what Twitter can do for your business
· Increase the visibility of your company, its products, services or employees.
· Create interaction with current customers and prospects interested in what your business offers.
· Lower the cost and time involved with customer service
· Generate traffic to your website.
· Be a source for public announcements.
· Establish your company as a leader in its field.
Twitter, however, isn’t just a place for you to reach out to customers and prospects. It should also be a listening tool. You can use it to learn what is going on in your industry or what your competitors are doing. Most importantly it should be a way to hear from customers, both satisfied and dissatisfied. In fact, you should be monitoring most social media platforms to intercept negative comments. Thinking just because you are not using Twitter, Facebook, or Yelp means your insulating your business, quite the opposite is true. You’re shutting out potential problems that could only grow.
Like any social media format you either seem to like doing it or you don’t. If you don’t it will show after a while and you’ll lose followers. Either find someone to help you with Twitter or perhaps set it aside for another day when your feelings could change.
Yelp is becoming more and more a force in the decision process of people looking for service providers in a location. Not only are people accessing Yelp on their cell phones and laptops, they’re gaining more and more prominence on Google and Bing. This means that owners of businesses that serve a specific community should take control of their listing to ensure all the information is correct and if necessary respond to reviews.
The first step with Yelp is to find out first if your business is already listed by doing a search for it. In most cases, it probably is listed. You claim a business through a link on the right hand side. The verification process involves your receiving a four digit code that shows on your screen and which you must punch in when their automated system calls.
If your business isn’t listed when you do a search you’ll be directed to a form that will guide you through the process. You’ll have to verify your listing first through an email and then later through the same verification process I just outlined.
Once you have your Yelp listing, fill in as much of the information as possible. There isn’t an about section like most directories have, but instead a specialties section. Make sure that your entry includes not only the community you serve, but also your business type. So incorporate Denver restaurant into the specialties section if this were your location and business. I’d also include these terms in your history section as well. This information, as well as your reviews will influence how prominent your listing is when someone does a search on Yelp.
Photographs are also important. These help to introduce your business to searchers, make your listing stand out more, and through their description can help with your ranking on Yelp. This last point isn’t proven, but simply my best guess as to how their algorithm works.
Getting Reviews For Yelp and How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Yelp
Unlike Foursquare and Angie’s List, Yelp doesn’t encourage businesses to actively campaign for reviews. In fact, they have a filter system that might be the toughest of any on the internet. They don’t reveal what the algorithm for their filter is, but I know some of the things they look for. One is the appearance of a number of positive reviews for a business appearing all at once. You can often view the filtered reviews, but they don’t factor into a business’s ratings.
One obvious flag for a review is if that reviewer has only posted one review on Yelp, particularly if it’s positive. This is why these filtered reviews could eventually be live if the reviewer does begin to review other businesses. This is why I’d suggest encouraging customers to not only leave reviews, but to be active on Yelp. This will likely free up those filtered reviews and improve your overall score.
There is some data apparently that even a half star increase in businesses’ rating will result in more business. I’m not sure that this is true, but it does make sense that businesses with higher reviews often have a higher placement and receive a better response from visitors.
Many businesses would be happy if negative reviews were filtered, but this is seldom the case. Should you get a negative review you have four options. One is to ignore, which isn’t advisable. In fact, the person leaving the review could add another if they never receive a response. You can flag the review if you deem it to be false or offensive, but you should use it sparingly and only if your complaint is legitimate.
The final two options to respond to a review involve contacting the reviewer. You can do this privately, which is often the best option. Try to resolve the situation without it becoming any more public. If you decide to respond to it publicly as the owner or a representative use caution. Don’t turn it into a confrontation, but if possible apologize to the reviewer and offer some compensation such as a discount. Even if this doesn’t satisfy the reviewer, it does show the public that you’ve made an effort. If the reviewer continues to leave negative comments without accepting your offer, then ignore them.
If you want help with setting up your Yelp listing or with dealing with negative reviews, then contact me. I couldn’t not only provide assistance but offer advice on whether Yelp advertising is worth doing.
I’ll often start working with a client, particularly one who is asking me to assist with pay per click and at some point they’ll often say the same thing. Why isn’t anyone calling our company, even though we are getting a lot of clicks? The problem is that getting traffic to a site is one thing. Getting them to be customers can be something else.
Pay per click is a great way to generate traffic, but that is all it does. It doesn’t matter if you’re spending 5 dollars a click or 50, if they don’t like what they see after the click, that money is just wasted.
Here are a few reasons that traffic doesn’t always mean customers.
1) You’re targeting the wrong words. You may think you know what customers are using and you may be right. But do you know the motivation behind them. Are they phrases they use because they are doing research to find what they need? Instead focus on the words they’ll use when they know what they want.
2) Your site doesn’t have content related to what your customers are looking for. Especially with pay per click, it’s easy to simply choose words even if they aren’t related to the information you have on your site. If they get to your site and don’t find what they want, they’ll simply go on to the next site which does have content related to their search.
3) Your web site sucks. The sad truth is that many sites just aren’t good. Has it become out of date or was it put together by a friend or relative. First impressions do matter and if your site looks amateurish or isn’t user friendly, it won’t convert visitors.
4) You’re site looks even worse on a cell phone or an IPad. Even if your site looks halfway good, it might not work too well when viewed on a cell phone. In the past this wasn’t an issue as you could set campaigns to just computers. Google’s Enhance Campaign changes this. The solution is to bid differently for cell phones. If you don’t do this, your ads will cost you the same, no matter how prospects view them. And the cost will be the same.
5) You’re sending visitors to your home page instead of having landing pages for campaign. Too many people make the mistake of setting up a pay per click campaign and then directing all the ads to the home page. The better option is to direct them to a page that has the material related to what they’re searching for. The best option is to create landing pages for the campaign.
6) Even for the best sites, conversion rates are low. The sad fact is that conversion rates for most websites is anywhere from 2-5%. That means for every one hundred visitors you have, you might only get a couple of calls or form requests. This is why you need to do what you can to ensure your success. So that these few calls or requests become customers.
If you’re not having success with your campaign, simply continuing on with your current strategy will only result in a loss of money and just as importantly a loss in time. It’s time to step back and assess not just your website, but your campaign. If you don’t have the time, or background, to do this yourself then consider hiring a professional. The cost of their services will be made up over time as you start to generate more business and lower your cost per click.
For any business to generate business from their website, that site needs to be found. If people are already aware of your business they may simply type in your company’s name. Yet, for your business to succeed and grow you have to connect with people who don’t know about your business. These are people who are typing in the services or products you offer. These phrases that they are typing in are the keywords you need to target with your site.
Even if your business serves a local community and it shows up in Google Places or Bing Local you still want to show up in the natural listings that surround it. People often mistakenly believe these are businesses that are being endorsed by Google or Bing and so are the ones to contact first.
Keywords are the backbone of both SEO and content marketing. Even though rankings of these phrases will vary for a number of reasons, you still need to incorporate them into the content of your site. I’m not going to go into detail in where you incorporate these keywords into your site or even all the various tools you can use for research. Instead I want to help you determine which keywords to target.
Let’s say you compiled a list of phrases that relate to your business. In some cases you may only have a few phrases on your list, but for a number of businesses there could be hundreds, if not thousands of potential candidates on a list. The problem is that you have a limited number of pages to use these phrases on. This means that part of your keyword research for SEO is knowing which words to target.
The Google Keywords tool
There are a number of keyword tools on the market and any number of them can be beneficial. One that is free that I like to use with my clients is the one provided by Google Adwords. First of all, Google is the king of search, so for all of the potential benefits of other tools, they don’t have access to the amount of data they have at their disposal.
Another reason I like the keyword tool is that its data can provide insight not just into which phrases have the most traffic, but also which advertisers have had the most success with. One column labeled competition gives a rating that goes from zero to one. The closer to one a phrase is, the more competitive those phrasses are. If a phrase has a low number, it could mean that marketers have found little value with that phrase.
Similarly the tool also gives the average cost per click for these phrases. If websites are willing to spend a lot of money just for a single click, then that means they’ve had a good return on investment for that money. So needless to say, they also will do well for SEO.
What is the motivation behind keywords
When people type something into the search bar, they are most often just doing research. This is why general phrases have such high numbers, which can be misleading. For example, while baseball bats may be a phrase with a ton of searches, many of these searches won’t result in a sale. Only after the searcher has determined what type of baseball bat do they want, are they ready to buy. So Easton baseball bats might have just a fraction of the number of searchers, its actually the more valuable phrase.
When you’re looking over your list, think about which phrases are likely related to the research phase and which are in the buying stage. I’m not recommending not using the general phrases, as these can be great for content marketing. After all, if you can influence the searcher o which product or service meets their need, yours is the first site they’ll look for that specific product or service. This is why you need to optimize most pages on your site.
Which keywords to eliminate from your list
When I work with clients I generally supply them with a massive list. I then advise them to go through the list and eliminate those that don’t apply. Most likely, they’ll still have an unwieldy list. So I tell them to choose from them the words we want to target initially. I tell them to think long term and short term with the list they compile. What are the phases that are most competitive and which are more likely to see quicker results because they are less competitive? This way we can start thinking long term for the more competitive phrases while still starting to generate some traffic sooner.
Even after we’ve come up with a shorter list, I never have them discard the full list. These could be candidates for future blogs or perhaps that can be targeted later when new content is added to the main site. In the end, by continuing to add phrases to target we constantly expand the reach of the site.
Keywords are often crucial to a site being found. Take the time to do the research not just to compile your list, but to understand the value of various phrases.
One common complaint I hear from prospects is why there site doesn’t appear on Google. They’ve spent a lot of money on the site and think it looks great, but it’s nowhere to be found when they do a search for their products or services. Worse they see their competitor’s cheesy little site, which hasn’t been updated in years, whenever they do a search.
I tell them there are a number of factors, including how much SEO their competitor has done. About half the time people on the other end of the conversation aren’t even sure what SEO is. And even if they do, they often don’t really know what it means. I’ve just started working a client on his pay per click campaign and he was impressed that I managed to get him to the first page of Google overnight. I explained to him that this was only because he was paying to be there. If he wanted to really get to the first page of Google he would need SEO. Right now he was just renting the space.
For those not familiar with what SEO involves, it’s about getting a site to rank for the products or services a company offers. It’s about showing up on the first page of Google for these results. Pay per click ads are listed alongside the natural listings. A lot has changed with SEO over the years, including whether rankings even matter anymore, but the central elements of what makes it work remain the same.
Why Your Site Doesn’t Rank
There could be any of a number of reasons why your site doesn’t appear on the first page of Google or even in the top 100. First of all, do you have content that includes the phrases that you think you should be ranking for? For example, I’ve looked at the sites of contractors whose sites list what they do, but fail to mention the community they serve. Only their address gives away where they work.
Second your site might have few if any links. One of the elements that influence how Google ranks sites are links from other sites. Google looks to them as a vote for a site and if nobody links to your site it’s not a good sign. And if you try to buy votes (links), then you’ll be penalized for this.
Third, your site may have elements that create problems with search engines. Your home page could be flash or your text could be embedded in a photograph. The navigation could be done in a manner that is hard for the search engines to understand. It could also be a slow loading site and time is another factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Why your competitors cheaply made, out of date, site ranks
There must be nothing more frustrating than to spend thousands of dollars on a site and not see it succeed. And then to see your competitors site which one of their relations slapped together and which hasn’t been touched in years showing up on the first page of Google. The question then becomes why Google seems to prefer this site, which most people would immediately recognize as mediocre.
One reason the site may rank is that for all its flaws, the site may have just enough to get it to rank. For example, they might be using the phrases the people are using. In fact they often get carried away with it. Similarly while the design looks cheesy because it’s mostly text and images, it also doesn’t have the technical advancements that can be an impediment to search engines.
Another reason is that it might have links, and have had them for a while. They could be listed in directories such as DMOZ, which have lost their importance, but whose links still have value.
Also if your competition serves a local market, it might not be ranking at all. It simply could be part of the Google 7 Pack. These are the listings Google has from their local directory, also known as Google Places. Many of these businesses don’t even have sites, but that isn’t the point. They are the service providers nearest the person doing a search.
Finally this site simply may have just fallen through the cracks. It might be old and has been listed with Google for a long time. Initially they had little competition, but even now Google continues to list them. Google strives to show the best results, but their system isn’t infallible.
Don’t Worry About the Competition. Worry about yourself.
Remember how your mother told you not to worry what other people were doing. Take the same approach with your own site. Quit wondering about why your competition is succeeding. Instead begin building up your own site. If you want to succeed with Google and ultimately your market, then create a site that has value. Quit investing in the aesthetics of your site and instead focus on its content. Your audience isn’t going to be impressed with a lot of bells and whistles and neither are the search engines.