Creating a High-Traffic Wood-Shop Website
From contributor B:
Buy yourself IBP software and use it. It's amazing. It doesn't pay to pay the search engines. You just have to configure the behind the scenes, or code, to make the site more search engine friendly. IBP!
From contributor T:
Take a look at custommade.com. This very affordable membership site has been around for several years and has accrued a very high response rating as a result. There's a limited format, so you'll want to keep your own site linked to it as well, but this site will get you hits. I've gotten most of my business from it in the last 4 years. Of course you should expect a fairly high ratio of tire-kickers to eventual customers, but responding to an e-mail takes only a few minutes, and it's easy to dispassionately suggest price ranges for what a prospective customer wants or by referring to other projects they can view at either site. By the time I get into my van to visit a customer, the job is usually a sure thing. Customers you do land from the internet are also likely to be better educated about what they want.
From contributor G:
To get the search engines to notice you, have alt text and meta-tags in your website. Link to other similar websites. Link to WOODWEB. Try to get mentioned in the local paper with an online version. The frequency that you come up is dependent on the exposure you have.
From contributor A:
Ours is an Internet/woodworking company and we have made our sole living from it for about eight years now. We rank in the top five over the four or five key phrases for our business on all of the big four: Google, Yahoo, AOL, and MSN. We also pay (both Google Adwords and Yahoo) for PPC advertising, in an amount roughly equal to 10% of our gross receipts. (About 500K/50K).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the name of the game and it is quite involved. You can pay people to optimize your site, but it's expensive. The best single program we have found for doing it yourself is Web Position Gold - this allows you to make side-by-side comparisons of your site with the highly rated ones and to make modifications accordingly. The most important two aspects for improving web position are (1) a content rich, keyword rich landing page, and (2) high quality incoming links from frequently visited sites. Time-in-place also has an important effect - your position will improve as your site gets older.
There isn't the space here to begin to talk about all of the things a savvy business needs to do to improve position - it is a process that requires constant attention, experimentation.
At the heart of this is a good tracking system. We use a system at Freestats.com and pay for the full Monte. However, there are many others - in particular Webtrends. We watch our raw logs on an hourly basis for hints about what our visitors are doing, what keywords they used to arrive, and how they move from page to page - all with an eye to eliminating blind alleys.
From contributor M:
I agree with much that's been said here already, but I'll offer a few ideas of my own. The most important search engines base much of their ranking of your site on keywords in content and link popularity. Meta and alt tags have become relatively unimportant. Important keywords and keyword phrases on your web pages, especially those within general content, headings (using Heading tags) and links, will help your ranking.
But link popularity is probably the most important parameter used to rank your site. It also happens to be the most difficult to "manage." What you're after are as many high-quality links from other web sites pointing to your site as you can get. High quality links are those coming from sites within the same space or industry; if you're a woodworker, links from wood industry related sites are more valuable than links from unrelated sites.
Google allows you to review these "backward links" easily. Try this. Copy and paste the entire line of text below into Google's search field and press "enter":
The list of results shows many (not all) of the links to woodweb.com (and those that mention WOODWEB without linking as well).
To see even more links use Yahoo:
And this will show you links from across the web pointing to any page at woodweb.com:
You'll notice that woodweb.com's pages have "about 14,800" incoming links in Yahoo's database. Substitute your domain name in place of "woodweb.com" to see your relevant results.
Our content-rich pages and these incoming links are responsible for WOODWEB's consistently high search engine ranking for a large variety of keywords and phrases.
So, after you've done all you can within the content on your site, getting similar web sites (or sites in the same trade, industry, field of interest) to link to your site is likely the best thing you can do to improve your ranking. You can begin that process by creating a free listing and web page in WOODWEB's Woodworkers Directory. In addition to the exposure your site will get to many potential customers, you'll also be creating one or more links to your site from another highly rated site.
And… you guys should get together and trade links!
From the original questioner:
Extremely helpful - thanks to all for posting.
From contributor Y:
Contributor T hit it right on the nail… custommade.com is where I had a link many, many years ago. I got 4 high end kitchens out of New York just from having a link there. I had to ship them 3000 miles, but I needed the work, and it makes great bragging rights when I tell people I did 4 kitchens in New York. The site works great; maybe I'll sign back up with them.
From contributor T:
Some excellent points have already been made. We all have opinions about getting to the top of the searches, but these are opinions only. The backroom operations at the engines are carefully guarded secrets which are constantly being reviewed and revised.
Some of the best advice can be found on Google's own webpage of tips for webmasters. The best of the tips boiled down:
Do create a quality site, the type that you would want to visit.
From contributor G:
One other thing I remembered - particularly for those who make their own sites - is to make sure that if someone wants to bookmark you, don't have the first thing on your site say "Home."
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