Affordable Web Site Design

Commercial Website Success

Despite stiff competition for search engine recognition,
you can have a successful commercial website,
placed prominently in search engine results.

  •   Understand what search engines look for
  •   Know your customers = Find your niche
  •   Observe the basics of search engine optimization
  •   Focus on content, content, content
  •   Concentrate content on separate pages

Click here to learn more about website design and strategies for search engine optimizing.

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Commercial Website Success

     The first thing to understand about search engines is that they now know that doing it for the money, ironically, doesn't pay. All the pay-per-click strategies have failed because they undermine the correct finding of stuff, which is what search engines are suppose to do.

     Right now there are two main search engine contenders:  Google and Yahoo, with Google being the larger of the two. Each has a big piece of the pie...

Google and Yahoo

     ... and each has a mission.

Google's Mission Statement

Yahoo's Mission Statement

     Lofty goals, with no mention of profit.  Google’s “Florida” algorithm-changes last winter reaffirmed their mission, to the distress of those looking for easy pay-per-click success.  It isn’t going to happen.  Even Google’s “Sponsored links” have moved from the top of the list to a side bar.

     A lot of companies say they can get your site on the first page of search engine results.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  But think about that for a minute.  How can they get everybody into the top 20 results?

     A well-meaning acquaintance recently suggested that if I built a program to get people in his industry into the top search engine results, I would have hundreds of clients in this area alone.  See the contradiction in this?  How can I tell hundreds of realtors that I can get their site in the top 20 results?

     The second thing to understand about search engines is that they are looking for the one, single webpage, that best matches a given keyword phrase.  They don't look at your site as a whole.  That's why frames don't work.  That's why you need to use something like the strategy outlined below to get their attention.

     But even with all the competition and rigorous standards, you can still gain prominence in Google and Yahoo by finding your niche, observing the basics of search engine optimization, focusing on content, and concentrating content on separate pages.

The Basics:

   KEYWORDS  You must come up with a list of keyword phrases, phrases that a potential customer or client would put into a search engine to find your products and services.  Have meetings and brainstorm with your colleagues.  This is the first step of search engine optimization, and there isn’t really anything to talk about until you’ve come up with this list.

     To achieve high search engine relevance, a separate page on your site should be written for each keyword phrase.  This page should have a lot of text including the phrase.  Image names, meta tags, and descriptions should be tailored to repeat these words.  Not only that.  The page needs to actually say something about the keyword concept, and it needs to say it at greater length than your competitors’ webpages.

   DESCRIPTIONS  Page description is the text that comes up with search engine results… 20 to 150 words.  You know it.  You read it to see which site in the results you want to visit.

     Basically, you want to be straightforward and informative when writing a description.  That is, include the facts, and leave out the superlatives.  Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and write a single, complete sentence that lets people know what you have.

     Now, write a separate description for each keyword page.

   FRAMES / NO  Do not use frames.  Period.  I know, they’re so easy, and they look good, but they just confuse search engines.  So, if your goal is high placement, don’t use them.  At least not on your keyword pages.  Give your keyword pages independent navigation buttons.

   SEARCH ENGINE SUBMISSIONS  Mostly, direct submissions to search engines just speed things up.  They are a good way to kick start a new or revamped website, and you can start to see the effect you site will have in, say, four weeks rather than three to four months, if you launch a search engine submission campaign.

     There are often good discounts for submitting multiple domains at the same time: like, submit five for the cost of three. If you want to do search engine submissions, see if you can find other web owners to do it with. Ask your webmaster about it.  I try to put together a group submission campaign for my web clients once or twice a year.

   RECIPROCATING LINKS  People at large commercial websites have made careers out of forming reciprocating link alliances.  Links into your site are important.  You’ve got to have a few just to get your site crawled and indexed.  For links to help your search engine results placement, they must be relevant to the keyword page to which they are linked.

     Ask your vendors for reciprocating links to their websites.  Make it part of your purchasing strategy and procedure.  And don't just let them link to your home page.  Have them link directly to your most relevant, product / keyword page.

     Also, imagine having a page so useful that others link to it based on its merit alone.

     To repeat myself from last year’s article on Website Success: If location is the secret to success in brick and mortar business, then content, content, content is the secret to a successful website.  The new algorithms make this truer than ever, as they tighten their focus and demand more specific and relevant information.

     Bottom line:  If you want a top-20 webpage, you’re going to have to build a top-20 webpage.

P.S. This should remind you WHY you want your site in the search engines… from

     Conservatively, there are well over 150 million active at home and at work internet users in the US.  Of these, 76 percent used a search engine at least once during the month.  On average, each spent nearly 40 minutes searching.

     That's more than 4.5 billion minutes per month spent using search engines in the US!  And the number is bound to increase for at least the next few years.

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There's no magic bullet when it comes to getting your website seen.  Search engine technology is complex and becoming more so everyday.  But if location is the secret to success in brick and mortar business, then content, content, content is the secret to a successful website.

A well-written site that has something to show, something to say, only needs the jump start of search engine submission to make a big splash on the internet.  Case in point,

The SAME keywords, descriptions and links have been on the internet since September, when their homepage first went up.  Between September and March, the site (then just one page with contact information) got about 600 hits per month.  But look at this chart.  Obviously something extraordinary happened in April, and hits have nearly doubled every month since.

What happened is content.  In April, they started putting their artwork on the website.  Sure, their keywords and description are well-crafted.  Sure, we've done a few site submissions.  But what's really responsible for the jump from 600 hits per month to more than 65,000 hits in July is content.

That is not to say keywords and descriptions and links aren't important.  They just aren't as important.

They're the window dressing, the inviting sign over the front door, and content is what you have to offer inside.  Of course, if your front door is uninviting (a poorly written description in our analogy), then a lot of people just aren't going to come in.

Keywords are what search engines focus on to rank site relevancy and return results.  Keywords need to be plentiful and present in the meta-tags, text, titles and descriptions, but that's a problem for your webmaster.  As a site owner, your problem is to come up with a list of keywords that match what people put in their searches when they want what you're selling.

There are tools you can buy which tell how many hits in various engines a given keyword receives.  But some thought, reflection and playing with your own search engine results will probably give you all the insight you need to put yourself in your customers' shoes and come up with a good list of words to describe your product and market.

Then there's the description.  Website description is the textbox that comes up when you mouseover the search engine results -- 20 to 150 words. You know it. You read it to see which site in the results you want to visit.

Basically, you want to be straight-forward and informative when writing a description.  That is, include the facts, and leave out the superlatives.  Again, I think looking at it from your customers' point of view is the way to go.  Then you put together a single, complete sentence that lets people know you have what they want.

That's all there is to it,
Here's WHY you want your site in the search engines
Service Number of Searches PER DAY
Google 91 million
Yahoo 60 million
MSN 28 million
AOL 16 million
Ask 13 million
Others   6 million
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