Why Most Small Businesses Will Fail Online In 2012
Jo, My phone isn’t ringing and I’m not getting any traffic to my site. I wondered if I could try out your SEO Services to see if that helps. Is there a code or something that I can buy from you?
This is not the first type of email or phone call I have received from local business owners who have had a website built for them where large sums of money are spent on the look and feel but no one gives any thought to the purpose of the website or how anyone will find it.
New small business owners decide on the service that they want to provide and the domain gets bought and titled accordingly. Sadly, unless they are particularly fortunate, no one is actually looking on the search engines for that term.
But it gets worse. Instead of naming the pages of the site for the items that are being sold, the web designer then decides to call each of the pages
So not only does a well performing keyword not appear in the name of the site, there are no clues in the rest of the URL for any of the pages either.
And the special area where Google goes to try to find out what the site is about is either left blank or filled in with wording that means nothing to its spiders or robots that are crawling the web for information.
It’s at this point in my research process that I start spitting feathers because there’s no surprise as to why this telephone isn’t ringing. If Google and the other search engines don’t have a clue what the website is about, then how can they send them any customers?
As an online business with no actual storefront, it’s going to be difficult to work the Local angle because Google Places need a bricks and mortar address to verify that the business really does exist and who wants their home address plastered all over the internet?
The site is not enabled for Mobile so you just get a scrunched up version of the main display which makes it hard for people to read and is a factor which will count against more and more businesses over the next year as Google begins to take that into account when choosing who it will show on its first page of Mobile listings. Why would it show a non-mobile site on a mobile screen if it has the choice of lots of other sites that are thumb and finger friendly when it comes to tapping for more info.
I have come across so many instances of this in the last year – people starting a new venture and just going for it without understanding that there are things which need to be done if you want to make the most of the huge possibilities that the internet has to offer. You can’t just put up a website and hope that they will come.
If you’re going to set up a website – and especially if it’s for an online business – please, please research your market first. Find out what people are typing into Google – their External Keyword checker is FREE to use and will give you a good idea of which terms and phrases are popular with your target audience.
Once you’ve chosen your ‘keywords’, these need to be built into the infrastructure of your website. It’s no good getting it online and then trying to SEO it later. The pages themselves need to be titled for each of your best keywords as a basis for the on page work that will tell the search engine spiders what your site is selling. Only with that information can they make the judgement about whether to put your page onto the front page of the results selection the produce for a particular search query.
That sounds a bit like gobbledegook, so here’s an example.
I want to buy a leather jacket but I don’t know where they’re sold in my area. So I type in to the search bar of my computer ‘leather jackets in Southend’.
Google (or Yahoo or Bing depending on which engine I’ve asked) will produce a set of results and I will be looking at the first ten results that are most likely to answer my question.
It produces those pages of results by looking into its database and seeing if its spiders have seen any websites that are about leather jackets and which are based in Southend. So the words ‘leather jacket’ and ‘Southend’ need to be mentioned in the URL of a page that contains content about leather jackets on a site which clearly shows it is based in Southend.
If it’s got a lot of websites that fulfil those criteria, the search engine then checks the real worth of a site through positive human interaction in the form of backlinks.
This is where people have mentioned that particular site on other sites – sometimes through social media by liking them on Facebook – if they have Social plugins on their site – or leaving a positive review on one of the local listing directories or checking in on their mobiles through Foursquare or Google Places .
Sadly, SEO is not a code that you can just stick on at the end. It needs to be properly thought through right from the start and it’s going to take more than a month’s worth of effort to put right all the things that are wrong with this site.
It just makes me very sad at the waste of money and effort but, worse, the loss of so many dreams for the want of a little forethought.
Jo Shaer directs traffic on a daily basis – as a lollipop lady outside her local school each morning before helping local businesses to get found online. She gives simple advice in plain English about how to be seen on Local, Social and Mobile. Email us Lollipop Local or call 01702 476517 to find out how we can help you get more customers.
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