560 Gorge Rd. West
Victoria, BC Canada V9A 1N4


IG on Search Engines

We will get your site listed #1 on Goggle!!!

Impressed? You shouldn't be, at least not yet. The value of a web site's search engine listing is relative to the keyword or key phrase used to find that listing. Your web site will have different search engine rankings for different keywords or key phrases.

Say you have a web site for your T-Shirt store, and the title of your web site is"Frank Flanagin's Wacky and Wild T-shirts". It is no big feat to get listed number 1 on Goggle for that key phrase, because the likelihood of someone else having that title would be slim (zero competition for for a search term usually guarantees a #1 listing), but guess how many people searched for "Frank Flanagin's Wacky and Wild T-shirts" on Goggle last month.... 1, and it was you. A keyword or key phrase's value is measured by how often it is being used by internet users.

If Frank Flanagin's web site listed number 1 on Goggle for the keyword search "T-shirt", then he would have something, with 1000s of people searching using that keyword daily, his site would be getting loads of traffic.

If you are going to build a web site with the goal of getting significant search engine traffic, then you need to first look at the market you are going for. For example, if you wanted to build web site for your vacation home in Mazatlan and you wanted your web site to be found when search terms like "vacation accommodation mexico" are used, you would be looking at keywords and key phrases that are relative to the general vacation market. This is an example of a market that is highly saturated and extremely competitive as far as the internet is concerned. The web sites that list well for these search terms are web sites that have either been around for a long time or have massive marketing and search engine optimizing budgets that allow them to penetrate the top listings. It would be a major undertaking to try and get this vacation home web site to compete and list anywhere worth while. In this situation the only purpose this web site may serve would be to showcase your home to visitors that have been directed from other sources such as print ads or from other web sites that add links to other sites (directory web sites) or sites that charge for advertising.

Going after search engine traffic is easiest in a niche market or one that is underexposed with regards to the internet.

Say you have a kayaking tour business in Port McNeill BC and you are wondering if a web site could help you get more business. The first thing you do is determine if people are using search engines to find what you offer. Using a search term selector tool, you see that "kayaking vancouver island" (searched over 200 times a month) and "kayaking british columbia" (searched over 800 times a month) are widely being being used as search terms through Yahoo (it is safe to assume that roughly the same amount would be using Google as well). So we know people are looking for what you offer and we can safely assume that because these terms are specific enough (geographically) that this market is most likely not targeted on a large scale. Now the next step is to use the search engines with these search terms to see what people are actually seeing for results. This is where you asses your competition. Ideally you would want to consult with a professional web developer at this point to have them asses the top ranked sites. It is not always easy to determine if a site is worthy of top ranks because it is well designed or if it just there because of a lack of competition. Many factors are considered: How long the site has been up for, is the site specifically targeting the search terms it is turning up on (if not, a site that does target them might do better) How well is the site designed with regards to search engines, how large the site is (amount of content), how many sites link to this site (a big factor with Google.com, know as page rank) and others.

So with the help of your web developer you determine that the top two competitor sites on Yahoo are going for "kayaking vancouver island" and "kayaking british columbia" as their primary search terms and these sites are well designed with respect to search engines. Although, everything below the number two spot doesn't appear to be targeting these search terms but was most likely indexed by Yahoo as being semi-relevant. A good indicator that a well designed relevant site targeted to this search term could do better. So a number three spot looks quite achievable and with over two thousand people a month searching for these terms you could expect to see 800 - 1000 visits at the number three spot. Not bad. Now you have the traffic, all you need to do is convert 3% (a conservative conversion rate) of your visitors to customers and your web site would be generating significant business for you.

Tricks and Secrets

Are there tricks and secrets for getting an edge in the search engine placement wars? Yes, but their overall effectiveness must be weighed against the risk of getting banned by a search engine for "search engine spamming". Search engines are getting smarter all the time and the big players (Goggle, Yahoo, MSN etc.) are continually developing new methods to detect tricks intended to spoof search engines. The definition of search engine spamming and what can be construed as "tricks" changes frequently. What might be a commonly used, innocent trick for boosting search engine listings today, may be a classified as spamming and cause for banning tomorrow.

Our experience and research has helped us develop a philosophy: The easiest and most logical way to build a web site that lists well, is to give the search engines what they are truly looking for, original, relevant content that is updated regularly (search engines now know how to spot stale web sites).

Outside of "tricks" there are basic design principles used in addition to good content, when building a search engine friendly web site. These are acceptable "good design" techniques that search engines recognize.

So you have a market to work with and you have relevant original content. Great! Then get us to build you a search engine friendly web site, you should see results in the form of significant search engine traffic.

Brendan Reilly