Boosting Website Traffic

      To get a high search engine rank, you need to cultivate good links on your pages, and weed out all the bad ones.April 29, 2012

Question
Since Google changed their search parameters, traffic to my website has gone down to almost nothing. It seems as though all the work I've put into my site and the time I've spent trying to establish relevant links has become all for nothing. I've tried to do some research on just what's happened, but I'm not a techno geek. Can anybody explain what's happened in plain English and what a small, independent business can do about it?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor M:
Active links on high traffic sites with relevant content can improve rankings dramatically. This is the easiest approach you can take.

How your site appears to a search engine is very important. A search engine needs to be able to navigate through the pages on your site and understand the content. Otherwise it won't be able to match your site with relevant searches.

Be careful with services offering search engine optimization for existing sites, and/or guaranteed traffic. What they are really selling much of the time is, at best, spam.

Keep in mind it's not about the quantity of traffic, but quality. Many hits are often from bots and crawlers. By some estimates 1/3 of average traffic fits this bill. You want traffic that is looking for the products and services you have to offer.

The easiest thing you can do yourself is get people to link to your site. Beyond that SEO (search engine optimization) can become very technical and is something best left to a professional developer.



From contributor J:
This is not my area of expertise either, but I know Google is trying to avoid directing users to malicious or spammy sites, so problematic links on your site can trigger Google to penalize your rankings. Clicking through your links page, I see that "Chair Directory" is a dead link, pointing to a page that offers to sell you the aboutchair.com domain. Also, "Early American Floorcloths" appears to point to an Asian linkfarm.

I don't know whether these issues are significant enough to cause the problem you're seeing, but you should probably stay on top of stuff like this. Beyond that, you may have to hire a techno geek. Your site seems very simple, so having a pro help you may not be a major expense.



From contributor T:
I'm having the same downturn, and just paused my adwords accounts. How relevant is it that the number of competing websites has probably increased tenfold over the last 5 years? It was the huge explosion of internet use by consumers that led us all to build websites. But I wonder if there's a backlash of sorts going on due to the fact that it is often harder to find what you are looking for than it was a couple years back. Meanwhile consumer spending in general is in a ditch, plus we've entered the summer doldrums where everything is put on the back burner due to vacations.

Advertising is a lot like tennis and golf; I basically suck, but every outing yields at least one sweet shot that keeps me coming back.



From contributor S:
Contributor M has good advice. Getting your link on other web sites is #1, and no crappy code on your page is #2. Definitely quality before quantity.

How many sales have you received solely based on someone finding your website? I have none. My website is more like an extension of my business card. The goal is to help me sell my product to people who are already interested in my company. But if I can attract new clients solely from the website, that would be nice.



From contributor T:
Roughly between '04 and '08 I got virtually all my sales from customers who found me on the web. I'm small, so I'm talking maybe 8-12 projects per year, all custom built-in cabinetry within a 100 mile radius. However, that was through custommade.com, when it was small and focused only on custom woodworkers. That site was sold a couple years ago and has been drastically changed to include all craft media, and the membership costs were increased substantially while actual sales results plummeted. When I downgraded recently to a low-cost basic membership, all contacts from the site vanished completely. That's another story. My point is that there are social/evolutionary developments going on in the internet search experience of consumers, and as with all advertising, it is very easy to spend a lot of money and get virtually no results. My early fruitful experience with custommade.com occurred in a unique evolutionary moment, probably made extinct by Google adwords and the huge increase in the number of competing websites.


From contributor S:
Point well taken. My site is horribly outdated and does not really reflect my business today. I guess that is why I minimize its importance. I will be having it redone in the next few weeks. Luckily good designers are a lot less expensive here than in the US.


From contributor K:
Has any of that previous traffic generated a cabinet sale? Or did it just look good on the reports that all these people looked at your website and now that number is dropping because other businesses pay for preferential placement in the search engines? I always wondered if everyone paid for premium search engine placement, then how does it get determined who's first and who's last?

You're better off promoting your website by other means then an internet search engine. Target people that are local to your area and not halfway across the country looking at pictures to get design ideas.

My website is informational on what I have to offer but mainly it's my online photo gallery, something I can point people to that are interested in seeing my work. I also have a brochure that I built through an online website, vistaprint. I send the brochures to builders and general contractors which also point back to my website.



From contributor B:
To the original questioner: I just spent a few minutes reviewing a some of the pages on your site. The first and foremost thing I saw was that your company name and what you make at the top of your home page is an image instead of text. This is a huge mistake. You make cabinets and chairs and yet these two words do not appear as text anywhere on your home page and in minimal locations on the other pages I reviewed.

If you look at my site, you will see I talk about "curved mouldings" again and again in text on the home page and all other pages on the site. I get those words, and any other phrase I can think of that someone would type into a search engine, in as many spelling variations as might come up, on the webpage again and again. I am not a professional search engine optimizer but common sense (and experience) tell me that if someone is looking for curved mouldings, I need the search engines to find those words on my webpages.

I use meta names and tags as well in the coding but quite frankly I've found that just using the appropriate words in the text on my pages does far more. If you doubt this just type "curved mouldings" into Google and see where we come up. Then try other combinations such as "radius millwork," "curved molding," "arched casings," etc. and see what you get.

Like you, I've spent a lot of time refining our website and it is a constant work in progress. My latest changes are to now have individual webpages dedicated to a given phrase that I think someone might use in a search. On one page all the descriptions of what we do will say "arched millwork" and on another they will all say "curved casings" etc. Even though these dedicated phrase pages have only been up a few weeks I am already seeing results when I do the test searches.



From contributor J:
Google really likes craigslist ads. Put in all your links (even though you may get flagged). Even if it seems a waste of time, and no sales from the ads, your ranking on website searches will go up. I'm getting some real results from CustomMade.com. Not much, but one sale or two will make it worthwhile. It also does help with your Google ratings. The web right now is a Black Art, not science or reason - just keep trying new things and don't give up. The world is changing at a very rapid rate, much faster than most of us think. Also if you don't have a free Facebook business site, get one.

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