The Skinny on How Search Engines Find and Rank Sites

Many people ask how their new site will ever show up in Google or Bing or Yahoo. The first thing a search engine does to find new web sites (and find changes to existing ones) is sent out software robots called “spiders.” On the Internet, these little cyber arachnids crawl through each web site they find and gather data (mainly from the textual content). This data is then brought back to the search engines main servers where they index your site under topics they believe it is focused on. For example, if you web site sells hypoallergenic pillow cases, then there will probably be a lot of words around that subject, so the spider should index your site as being “about” that topic. The location of words on your web pages also plays a part. If certain words show up in headings and in bold, for example, then those words are weighted a little more heavily in determining the topic of that web page.

All this data from all these web sites are stored in the search engine’s index. These huge repositories are what get queried when a person searches on something in their browser. Hopefully if someone searches on the phrase: “hypoallergenic pillow cases” then the site mentioned previously will come up. The job of the search engines is to do the best job possible in indexing web sites so that when people use their service, they get the results that fit their needs. And that’s the whole shebang. Now sculpting your web pages so they rank very high for particular words and phrases is the real challenge. That when it’s time to learn about search engine optimization or find a reputable company that does.

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Google Instant: Is the SEO Sky Falling!

Well, many of you have seen that Google Instant is upon us. This wonderful real-time searching tool gives you an even faster Google experience. Some say that search engine optimization (SEO) will be negatively effected by Google Instant. The truth is it really can’t effect it that much. If a web site is designed and sculpted with quality content for it’s audience, then nothing the search engine can do will change that. Visitors will still seek great content.

There may be some fluctuation in Adwords performance, it’s true. But stay the course, when it comes to your SEO efforts. Inbound linking, appropriate meta information for each page, and keep your site easy to navigate. All of these are still solid techniques. I will be blogging more on  Google Instant as the weeks and months progress. But rest assured, the sky in NOT falling on your search engine marketing efforts.

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Web Site Marketing Analysis or Don’t Get Killed by a Falling Tree

I was dropping my nine year old daughter off at a friend’s house one Saturday. I stopped to talk to the dad, a coworker of mine from years prior. He was in his yard, clutching a beer and gazing up at a huge dead tree in his yard. I walked up to him and asked him what he was up to.
“I’m cutting this tree down”, he said and reached down for the chainsaw at his feet.

“Really? Wow.” I responded, “Do you need a hand?

He looked back at me. “No, I have a guy coming over to help me. He has one eye.”

I paused and looked at him puzzled. He was serious. Now, being a person with a hefty respect for gravity, I couldn’t help but wonder why he felt it necessary to enlist the help of a person with depth perception issues in dropping a massive hunk of dead wood.

How does this relate to web site marketing? Well just like that tree, you had better know where your web site is falling in the search engines if you expect to be successful with your efforts to gain more exposure and dollars. Investing in on-site search engine optimization, social media exposure, link bait, and all the others techniques will do you little good unless you are keeping an eye on the changes in your rankings and how well you are meeting your targeted conversions. And to do that you need solid tools. There are a bunch of them out there like Google Analytics, Yahoo Analytics, Clicky and Mint. Some are flat out free, some cost a little, a few cost a lot. The point is it’s worth the effort to collect the data on what people are doing on your site and how it is stacking up in the search engine results pages. What changes have you made on the site that have caused an uptick in traffic? What inbound links efforts are gaining traction? Which are not? I won’t go into the nuts and bolts of what you can track in these analytics tools, suffice it to say there are a myriad of ways you can work the data and see whether your onsite and offsite marketing efforts are paying off. Don’t discount t this information since it’s the critical end-piece to your internet marketing process. Without it, you just a drunken lumberjack with a one-eyed helper, not knowing where that bone crushing tree will fall.

Footnote: I saw my friend a few months later. He’s okay. The other guy? I have no idea.

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First Establish a Firm Foundation

Many companies decide to jump into search engine marketing without much forethought about what needs to occur first. An effective search engine marketing campaign is only as stable as the website that is trying to improve. I always recommend that one of the first steps to undertake is a complete critical review and analysis of the existing website. If there are any navigation or usability problems in the website, these will only cripple any improvements that the search engine marketing campaign might provide. For example if your company is selling widgets and the search engine efforts are bringing in 60% more traffic to the widgets product page yet people are confused how to complete the purchase process, then you have shot yourself in the foot even though you have more traffic coming to this site. Have a comprehensive usability and information architecture review done on your website prior to investing substantial amounts of time and money in a search engine marketing effort. You will find the benefits will be dramatic. Remember that search engine marketing can only do so much since once a person has been drawn to your website, the quality of that site must allow for the completion of whatever goal you are after (purchasing a product, gathering an e-mail address, etc.)

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The Wild Ride that is Internet Marketing

Welcome to my blog. For my first post, I have to start off by saying that there is still some wild and crazy things going on in the arena of inbound link building. The idea behind increasing the amount of links pointing to your site is that the search engines pick up on it, and it increases your chances of high rankings since if sites are pointing to your site, you must have something of value. But it is possible to pay people to link to your site. This is called paid linking. And the search engines frown on it big time. Now Google has a pretty hard time finding out whether a link to your site is genuine or was due to the fact that you greased a palm or two. The purely ethical (or “white hat”) marketing folks would not venture into this realm, but for some, it is a real option to increase their rankings. It is especially prevalent in highly competitive marketing niches, where companies need any and all tactics to outperform their competition. My own opinion is that the price is too high if Google or the other search engine catch you buying links, so best off to keep to the strait and narrow. In the long run, the value of what you are offering will determine your success online.

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