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The Rabbit Hole That is Web Design and SEO

The Rabbit Hole That is Web Design and SEO

Sit back and enjoy the tour down the path to the facts you need to know about YOUR online presence.

My name is Amanda. I am not just the project manager for Complete Web Solutions, I am one of the partners of this web design firm.
Those that have ever spent time on the phone with me know that I love to share knowledge regarding web design, site flow and optimization.  (It’s okay, I know I tend to over share and many times the drop of the information can be a little overwhelming for people that have never had these topics explained before).
In an attempt to make the information more relatable, I will be comparing web design and SEO to the Indy 500. 

How in the world will she make that happen, you ask? Well, sit back and let’s see if I can pull it off.


The changing world of the internet

The Ford Model T went into production in 1908.  Cars had been around for decades but it wasn't until 1908 that affordable ownership was open to the masses. Vehicles have changed dramatically from 1908, we have a long list of laws, rules and regulations regarding the making of, and driving of, cars now but they come of years of seeing what needed to be created based on issues and needs from car owners.

We are living in the 1908’s of the internet. 20 years ago the words we use daily and the way we communicate didn't even exist so yeah! You are living in a very historical time.  Future generations will sit with grandparents and hear stories about dial up and spam pop ups with disbelief that we could have made it through the day with such handicaps.
If your living with the belief that a website created 5 years ago can compete in today’s race to the front page of Google, you need to realize that is much like comparing the Model  T to an IndyCar.  While your site travels at a top speed of 40-45 miles an hour, your competitors are passing you at 220 miles an hour.  Fact: You will not win this race.

Winning the Race

Okay let’s try to put this whole thing in perspective so it doesn't seem so daunting.  Please fasten your seat belts and enjoy our trip down the rabbit hole.
Starting from the Start
You’ve decided to compete in the biggest competition this planet has ever known, your goal is to win a spot on the front page of a search engine query (I’m going to use Google for the rest of the article to represent “search engines” in general). 

What will you need to get in the race?
Before you run out and pick up the vehicle you’re going to be driving, it is important to decide the true goal of this race.  Some people want to be in the race to win the cup but others just want to get their car on the track so people will recognize their colors and get to know their team, this type of goal will not require you to spend the same type of money on your vehicle that may be needed for those looking to take the top spot or at least come in at the top 10.

When we’re talking about business online there are hundreds of thousands other business owners on the track with you.  There is however only room for 10 on the front page.  Wait! Don’t get nervous and don’t throw in the towel.  Knowing that you’re competing with so many gives you the edge……. That’s right, it’s a good thing.  Your competition is sitting right there on the finish line and you can look at their vehicle, driver and team for as long as you need.  I can assure you they didn't’t get their by happy accident.  Most big business have entire departments that spend their days tweaking the websites and promoting business online.  They spend a huge amount of resources for these employees because it pays off.  
You don’t need to have a whole wing of your business set up for an internet team but you do need to understand the importance of, and impact to, your business for using the tools you have.

How much does it cost for the car/website? This answer can’t be answered until you define your goals. It’s equivalent to asking how much does a two door car cost. It depends on the car – are we talking a pinto or a Porsche? You need to know first what you need that car to do for you.  

How to find that goal? Most people don’t really understand what questions to ask and wind up with cars/websites that can’t meet their goals. You can solve this issue by working with a development team that knows what questions to ask you about your needs and makes sure that you didn't overlook vital information about what the end result should be from the car/website.

Once you know what you need to reach your goals it’s time to choose the team that will be helping you reach your goals.  This team includes the car maker as well as the support staff.  In any race you always have those team members that are waiting in the wings during the pit stops to address the needs of the car like tires, gas and fluids, even to clean the windows.  What you DON’T see is a one man team.  There is a reason for this.  Winning the race only starts with the right vehicle, during the race it would be impossible for the driver to jump out and change worn tires, wash window, replace fluids and get back on the track in a timely manner.  Of course it can and does happen but chances of winning the race become slim.  If you are spending all your time working on the car then you don’t have the time to work on driving the car to the winners circle.

You’ve defined what your needs are, now what?  Now you need to understand the rules of the race, what can get you penalized from the judges, and what the judges are looking for.  There is bad sportsmanship that could get your car/website suspended.  You also need to understand the track your competing on, the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and one area so many forget – who do you want to impress? 

Do you know your customers/clients? Do you really understand what they want and why?  A customer persona is worth the time it takes to create.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Pick up the phone and ask me.  719 432-9415 – Worth your time?  You bet!

Let’s start with the rules and the judges – In 1905 there were not so many rules and regulations about speed, emissions or safety for drivers on the road.  Over the years these regulations changed based on abuses and over all safety on the road.  This is no different on the internet.  Rules change as the search engines (judges) find abuses and you need to understand that this will continue to change and morph so stop chasing after the “overnight” success and go for the long game.

How do I compete if the rules are always changing?  Easy.  You need to understand the goal of rules and it all becomes clear.  
First let’s understand the goal of the search engines. – although search engines seem to be all up in your business with your site, you are NOT their customer, you are being judged to determine if they will (recommend) your site/business to their customers. 

Recommending you means they will show your site in the results page for a certain search query.  What they don’t want to do is recommend a site that their customers won’t find useful.  They have competitors as well and don’t want their customers to blame them for weak sites and bad information.  Search engines have spent time and resources attempting to better understand search queries and you can benefit from all their research.

Search engines want you to be great! They are not your enemy, they are crucial to your success and they should be understood.  So many free tools are available to a site owner but most don’t know where to find them or what to do with them when they do find them.  Here is where your team/support staff come in.  It’s said that Henry Ford did not know much about building cars but he did know how to surround himself with people that did.  Don’t let your ego get in the way of success.

The judges want  your site to be – easy to use – lots of information written well and for your customers/clients, structured so their spiders can crawl and understand it, images that tell the spiders what the image is.  Is this all? No but It’s a great place to start.  If you’re going to win the race you need to spend time making sure your vehicle has what it takes to go the distance.

Structure and SEO -  Here is where a lot of confusion comes in.  Think about it this way, your vehicle needs to be built to handle the stresses and needs of the race but it still needs a driver and you will need to keep an eye on the fluid levels and tire pressure.  The race to the top of Google can present you with different terrain and weather patterns.  Even the top of the line vehicle is simply a tool and not enough to win – it may be enough to place but we can talk about that more later.

Quick question to ponder – Have you ever seen a race where the driver of  the car in the lead takes their foot off the gas?  Just because you're in first place now it doesn't mean you've won. There are hundreds, even thousands of drivers trying to take your spot, tweaking their cars to get that edge.  There is no “one and done” when it comes to winning the race on the net.

Winning the one man race – I have a conversation with owners that seems to be a trend.  “I come up on the front page for lots of searches”.  Let’s first talk about search history and then about what you’re showing up for and if anyone is looking for it.
Your browsers have cookies and history of your searches.  Once you click on a site for a search, that site has a tendency to show up on the results page because you’ve gone there before and the search engines want to remind you that you may have liked that site.  The more times you click on that link, the more and higher up the page that page gets because of YOUR search history. 

This is not how others see the results, those that have yet to click or choose a link on the query results.  There are free tools that you can use to truly rank your position.  Ask me about these.
Popping champagne because you made it to the top of the front page for a search like “30” Dana bead lock” is a party that only you attend and will never produce revenue if no body is searching for that term.

Think of the net as the biggest mall on the planet and the search engines are the kiosks where you go to find the shop you’re looking for.  If you don’t know how people are looking for your products then the kiosks won’t direct traffic to your store.

Let’s say you sell screw drivers and that 1000 people a day are looking for your product.  But you don’t really say that you sell screw drivers, instead your banner (webpage title, url and meta description) says “LONG METAL RODS FOR USE WITH SCREWS”.  No business comes your way because no one is looking for, or understanding, your description.  Now, what if these kiosk directors can also use pictures to show people items they want.  You have a big picture of a screwdriver out front but the kiosks(Google) has no eyes and relies on the name you’ve given the picture to understand you have a product people are looking for, you decided to title your image (12j29.jpg) so bummer, you still get no traffic coming your way.

In keeping with our mall story let’s look at your spot in the mall.  You decided to go with a “free” spot where the flooring, paint and displays are home made.  Perception is reality. Consumers are nervous about doing business with sites that could end up not delivering a solid product.  The economy didn't’t help much.  Put yourself in the shoes of your customers.  If you needed medical help for example and you had just two options to choose from (online they have thousands), and you were looking in the window at a doctors office that had a wooden box for the reception desk, a piece of wood on cinder blocks for a waiting area and the sign was written on paper with colored pens….. How would you judge the authority of the doctor that owns that business?   Free websites that offer “tools” to drag and drop are sure to have you get out of them what you put into them.  Zero.

We have become a culture of immediate gratification.  Forrester says you have 3 seconds to show your visitors what they came to see or they simply leave.  If you’ve made it through my article to this point then I’m pretty sure your looking for real solutions to your needs.  We can help you.  You don’t have to spend a ton of money but you do have to have a plan, a strategy.  If you want to really take your business on the journey that is the Net then it’s time for us to talk.  There are few things left in this world that cost you nothing but provide you with true value.  The talk we have is one of those things.  There are only two reasons that people don’t pursue tools they know they need.  1) Fear of cost or  2) Fear of being asked to do something long and tedious. 

The fact is that there is no miracle pill for your business that you can buy for $19.95, take with pizza and milkshake, and wake up at your goal.  You must be part of the solution or it’s not worth even starting.  

I'm not big on leading a horse to water if I know I can’t make them drink.  You may not like what I say but you will come away from our conversation knowing the answers to the questions you have and plan for a solution.  What you do with that information is up to you.  Just keep this in mind. 

There is a reason you no longer see the Fuller brush man walking door to door, there are no ice trucks doing a weekly home delivery and you don’t see horse and buddy shops or stables on every corner.  To survive and thrive in todays business world you must know the rules and move forward with the technology.
I'm ready to help those that want the help, even if that is your competition.  Call me – you can only gain from the conversation.  719 432-9415 – Amanda/CEO Complete Web Solutions. 

Search Engine Optimization does not happen overnight.  Although the diet pill industry has made billions a year convincing people that there is a magic pill that can be taken at night and wake up at their goal weight without changing any actions in their lives that caused the problem, SEO is just not going to be that easy.  You will have to spend the time to do what it takes.  It will cost you time or money but it will cost you something, let's talk about the ROI on your investment first.  Let me know a little about your needs on the form below and I will give you a call to talk about what can be done to help you meet your goals.

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