Background first: I received a forwarded email yesterday from a potential client, with the original subject line being “1st place on Google” sent by their Business Development Manager who we will call Fred. Now it was obvious Fred and his Company, Startup, band of merry men, what ever the actual business was ( no business name, no 1300, 1800 or company blurb, nothing.) really wanted business cause they went to the trouble of using this really attractive darkish green background for part of the email. All I had to do to get my business, or my clients as the case may be, into the “1st place on Google” was to respond to their Gmail email account and ask for their packages, portfolio’s and proposals. Awesome isn’t ? I’m not sure if you can tell but I was and still am sceptical of the claim. Would your internal scam alarm be sounding by now? What was it for you? The Green background, gmail address, lack of business name or the promise of “1st place on Google“? Or all of them? What happened with that email: To be fair I’d say almost everyone with a business email address, or just and email address, has received this kind of email at some point. Here’s a question to ponder, would you reply back and even pay the people on the other end via Paypal, and give them login details to your website so they could optimise the content? Probably not. I would hope not anyway. But I have recently had a conversation with some one in the coffee industry who did just that. And wondered why their e-commerce site was blacklisted and reported as having malware. The Website Client: They approached me to discuss securing their business website after the fact, and tidying up and retrieving lost copy from backups and trying to go about restoring some of their online stores reputation. The business was relative new, small and started as a husband and wife team but now with a couple of staff working with them. The e-commerce site was built quickly and more the domain of the husband and wife with staff simply taking the emails that came in processing the orders. The Website Audit: I audited the site, not just for faults and malware but for content, errors and SEO/SEM. This is something that is not quick or simple and can take a fair chunk of my day to complete. Especially if it is an “emergency” situation and can’t be done over a period of days to gather and filter information. I gave them a full report, a break down of everything that was wrong with their site. And a time and a price for getting everything corrected as well as getting everything headed back in the right direction in regards to ranking and regaining lost customers. This included setting up website metrics, analytics, proper website security, login systems, password enforcing and regular scans. The owner/managers may have felt at a loss at the extent of the damage to the site, or surprised at the low ranking the site was receiving (it wasn’t brilliant to begin with), the blacklisting of their emails or the fact some of their long time customers were angry, but whatever the reason management did not take the report well. The Result: It was at this point I actually encountered the old “my friends son says its not that hard and he can do it” routine. At which I politely left the conversation suggesting that if he needed to contact me to do the work he had my card. I did not leave a copy of the report. I did leave a summary but definitely not the details. Some of you may be asking why? Others having been down this path fully understand. Having put the research and time in to understanding the situation at hand I felt that leaving my work there in that situation would not just be tempting someone else to follow the report and attempt to do the repair work – yes I would loose out on income, it would also reflect badly on me. My name, my businesses name and its reputation would be reflected upon badly if someone attempted to implement the needed work, failed or worse using the broad picture I had painted in the report.(not that it wasn’t in pretty bad shape as is.) I have been down that path before with past potential clients. The Takeaway: Its never a good idea to pinch pennies when your livelihood is at risk. I can understand the impulse, your e-commerce website business has just suffered a reputation and monetary setback and the urge to reduce costs can be a major factor in decision making. It is however never a good idea when your main website interface to the world of your customers is damaged. Your business website needs to be trustworthy (I.E. a SSL certificate for all transactions), fast to load (Google does rank on speed especially for mobiles), and the website must be clear and easy to navigate. A website for business, an e-commerce website, your website, needs to be secure and not just that your customers need to feel secure and confident while using your website. So when you get that spam email in your inbox promising you “1st place on Google”, maybe a little research of who and where the business is from will prevent some headaches. As for the potential client of mine in this story. They have contacted me again. They did have someone else look at the site and from what little they have said and from what hasn’t been done on the site not much has worked out for them. Yes I have a feeling it was the friends son. It may be a story for another day.
Website contentOne of the things that has come up a lot recently has been the value of content in a website. One of the things that Google and other search engines look for is the words and phrases you use in your business websites content. When, where and how often you use the wording affects the way in which your page is indexed. This is often called SEO, or SEM. That is Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing. Google in particular looks at not just the structure of a site but the way the content is arranged, its readability, length, the page content, and phrasing. They use this to help score your site and thus rank it on search results.
Website LinkingYes there are plenty of companies out there spruiking the use of backlinks, guest blogging, and paying for links from authors to build your sites rankings. This is not a long term strategy that will get you very far. In fact done repeatedly on low quality sites links like this will get you banned from Google until corrected. An example of this was Interflora UK who paid for 150 advertorials in the lead up to valentines day 2013 in regional papers all linking back to them. This promptly resulted in a ban from search results until they at least applied a nofollow on the paid links.
Results require workKeeping your website in a decent search engine ranking is hard work. It isn’t easy and requires constant effort.
- Publishing new content
- Refreshing outdated content
- Making sure your legitimate links still work
- Competitors working harder
- Search engines updating there rules