If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. Getting
a companys name and products, or services, onto
the first page of a genuine Google search isnt
a trivial piece of work. In fact, there are four distinct
skills that a search engine optimiser needs to possess.
Most people possess one or maybe two of these skills,
very rarely do people posses all four. In truth, to
get to all four, people who are good at two of these
need to actively develop the other skills. Now, if you
are running your own business, do you really have the
time to do this? Is this the best use of your time?
Specifically the four skills needed for SEO work are:
Web Design producing a visually attractive page
HTML coding - developing Search Engine friendly coding
that sits behind the web design
Copy writing producing the actual readable text
on the page
Marketing what are the actual searches that are
being used, what key words actually get more business
for your company?
Many website designers produce more and more eye-catching
designs with animations and clever rollover buttons
hoping to entice the people onto their sites. This is
the first big mistake; using designs like these will
actually decrease your chances of a high Google rating.
Yes, thats right; all that money you have paid
for the website design could be wasted because no-one
will ever find your site.
The reason for this is that before you get people to
your site you need to get the spiderbots to like your
site. Spiderbots are pieces of software used by the
search engine companies to trawl the Internet looking
at all the websites, and then having reviewed the sites,
they use complex algorithms to rank the sites. Some
of the complex techniques used by web designers cannot
be trawled by spiderbots. They come to your site, look
at the HTML code and exit stage right, without even
bothering to rank your site. So, you will not be found
on any meaningful search.
I am amazed how many times I look at websites and I
immediately know they are a waste of money. The trouble
is that both the web designers and the company that
paid the money really do not want to know this. In fact,
I have stopped playing the messenger of bad news (too
many shootings!); I now work round the problem. So,
optimising a website to be Google friendly is often
a compromise between a visually attractive site and
an easy to find site.
The second skill is that of optimising the actual HTML
code to be spiderbot friendly. I put this as different
to the web design because you really do need to be down
and dirty in the code rather than using an editor
like FrontPage, which is OK for website design. This
skill takes lots of time and experience to develop,
and just when you think you have cracked it, the search
engine companies change the algorithms used to calculate
how high your site will appear in the search results.
This is no place for even the most enthusiastic amateur.
Results need to be constantly monitored, pieces of code
added or removed, and a check kept on what the competition
are doing. Many people who design their own website
feel they will get searched because it looks good, and
totally miss out this step. Without a strong technical
understanding of how spiderbots work, you will always
struggle to get your company on the first results page
Thirdly, I suggested that copy writing is a skill in
its own right. This is the writing of the actual text
that people coming to your site will read. The Googlebot
and other spiderbots like Inktomi, love text
but only when written well in proper English. Some people
try to stuff their site with keywords, while others
put white writing on white space (so spiderbots can
see it but humans cannot).
Spiderbots are very sophisticated and not only will
not fall for these tricks, they may actively penalise
your site in Google terms, this is sandboxing.
Google takes new sites and naughty sites
and effectively sin-bins them for 3-6 months, you can
still be found but not until results page 14
really useful! As well as good English, the spiderbots
are also reading the HTML code, so the copy writer also
needs an appreciation of the interplay between the two.
My recommendation for anyone copy writing their own
site is to write normal, well-constructed English sentences
that can be read by machine and human alike.
The final skill is marketing, after all this is what
we are doing marketing you site and hence company
and products/services on the Web. The key here is to
set the site up to be accessible to the searches that
will provide most business to you. I have seen many
sites that can be found as you key in the company name.
Others that can be found by keying in Accountant
Manchester North-West England, which is great,
except no-one ever actually does that search. So the
marketing skill requires knowledge of a companys
business, what they are really trying to sell and an
understanding of what actual searches may provide dividends.
I hope you will see that professional Search Engine
Optimisation companies need more than a bit of web design
to improve your business. Make sure anyone you choose
for SEO work can cover all the bases.
About the author:
John Fowler trained as a Mathematican and has worked
in the IT industry for over 30 years, much of the time
in sales related functions. He now spends his time between
being a partner in SEO Gurus and as a sales and management
trainer for ICT companies. John can be contacted via