by nottmarketing | Mar 27, 2022 | Online Visibility, Search Engine Visibility
Case Report and a Cautionary Tale?
This is a repost of an old Case Study published in May 2014, entitled ‘Who Are You? Is your online identity crisis hurting your organic search visibility?” I often speak to small business owners about improving their online visibility, notably in local search results.
Does your website suffer from an identity crisis? In this post, a local antique store asked why their website was not performing well on Google searches.The antique shop website had four separate functions. I found a constantly rotating stock of consignment items that were not adequately described for search bots. Also, none of their informational pages were composed using key phrases or descriptions. Sometimes I am asked to take a look at older websites to determine how to improve sales, increase qualified leads, or position the company as an expert in whatever it is the proprietor does best.
Almost a decade ago, I was called by a prospect who explained his profession, qualified himself as an expert in his field, and asked whether I might be of assistance in stimulating online sales. We spoke for at least an hour. I took careful notes and perused his website during the conversation. I asked who managed the online store, and was told their “programmer” managed the database. The task as I comprehended it was to improve online sales.
Three Hours Later…
Three hours later my phone rang and the prospect’s wife gave me a new diatribe about what she expected from her website. She wanted people to give them consignments to sell in their store. More stuff to sell versus more online sales. I told her the plan I had detailed for her husband: that I would take a look at the content and improve the meta tags and other source code on their web pages. When I said “meta tags” I heard her hold the telephone out and yell across the room to her husband that she didn’t know what I was talking about.
So conversation number three begins and they now want me to be their webmaster. The site they wanted help with was not e-commerce enabled. Random items were rotated through the home page and an internal search engine accessed the inventory database. The online showroom and company story were melded together with trivia and unnecessary information. Now they were talking about overhauling the online store so every item would have its own page… for an inventory of 900 items. I offered to start with keyword and description improvements on important pages, then assess the results.
My Analysis and Recommendations
A month later after finally being given access to the web pages, I uncovered some messy code, some best-practice errors, and silly keyword and description choices. Repairs, tests, more tweaks and tests were made, and after carefully reading the active and defunct pages, this is what I discovered. The plain HTML pages revealed four separate identities and goals for this one company website: as a venue for
1. e-commerce sales for their vintage and collectible wares
2. asking for consignments for sale in the online and/or physical store
3. obtaining appraisals, particularly for estates
4. offering showroom floor or cabinet display space in the physical store
What I Changed
All page titles, keywords and phrases, and descriptions were tailored to the category or the information on each of the main pages. A sitemap was prepared and submitted to major search engines such as Google and Bing. I wrote a detailed report, mailed it to the company with my corrections with an invoice. They never paid me, they would not answer their phone when I called, and within a year they had closed their doors.
If you have an existing website, especially an extensive product catalog, decide how you want to frame your online identity. When your brand has a good reputation and your company longevity makes you known for more than one specialty, be sure to have a separate page for each specialty, and don’t be shy about editing the page source code titles, descriptions and keywords for each identity. Remember that your content is being read by humans, but indexed and given relevancy by search bots. There is no point in citing keywords in the source code that do not appear in the page content.
by nottmarketing | Aug 20, 2021 | Online Visibility, Search Engine Visibility
How is your company’s Online Health?
Why is an online self exam important for Connecticut business? If you have not taken a look at your business listings and search engine visibility in the past six months, set a few hours aside to evaluate your company’s online visibility. Imagine an outdated business description being found by prospective customers. Are your products or services up to date? Have you refined or added to your business services? Are contact details accurate? Is your address spelled correctly?
My first step in what I call the ‘discovery’ process prior to a new business consultation is to go to three major search engines and perform some due diligence. I review the sponsored links, I count all the links in which the business name might appear, I take stock of page density, peruse industry directories, look for directory listings, and how many other thriving websites where your name may appear.
In my work, I am solicited by international companies trying to sell me advertising, partner with me, and share website links in directories I have not yet heard of. Like many other very small companies, my own listings are the LAST ones I research. For many of the local small businesses I contract, I also look at what the competition might be using to get a leg up in the listings. If you have a lazy Sunday afternoon, do yourself a favor and see if your business listings are accurate and up-to-date.
Finding Yourself: The Online Self Exam is a Process
Type in your company name in Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL search. Follow all the links, notice how many listings appearing on each page, and how many pages in which you can find yourself. I strongly suggest claiming your Google Business Listing and keeping the business info current.
Type in the industry or service + your local area, region, county or town (i.e. “northeastern connecticut”, “central massachusetts”, “new england”, “downtown Boston”). Will all your competitors appear before you? Do you show up at all? You may want to rewrite your website page titles or descriptions.
Type in your website address (URL) in Google or any other major search engine service – then review all the links that appear. Are there any dead links, obsolete pages, incorrect entries? How many pages of links do you dominate? This morning I discovered an entry created for me in a website designer business directory. For the most part this listing was accurate, however the word “tiny” had been substituted for the word “small” in the phrase “small business website specialist”, making me a “tiny business website specialist. I found no photo, no logo, and a misspelled street name. My company profile was incomplete. Also missing were descriptions of services, and an opportunity to add nice details for a reciprocal link on my website. I claimed this ad and it is now being reviewed.
Look at the websites of your closest competition. Do the pages load in quickly? Are there any dead pages or graphics that fail to appear? How does your website performance measure up? Pay attention to the page titles displayed in the top of the browser on the competition versus your own website. If the competing websites are real class acts with current social media posts, you may need to rethink your online marketing plan.
Help is a Call Away
Search engines vary in the number of characters or words allowed in titles and descriptions in your web pages. Testing the copy in various analysis services is a must. Most research and discovery sessions to evaluate business/website visibility will take between three and six hours. Corrections to website copy must be published and tested. Often times, the findings require the client to roll up sleeves and claim free listings to update or correct on his own behalf. A client that expects a hands-off approach to his online presence is setting himself up for failure. The internet is 30 years old, and ignorance of computer operation can no longer excuse you. Consider hiring a third party to take appropriate action in commercial directories and/or social media resources. When your online self exam reveals you are effectively invisible online, give me a call. Office/Voicemail: 860-774-4467.