Category: SEO

WYGK has a large number of websites, and like many site operators, we were afraid of how the Google mobile search algorithm change on April 21 would affect our sites.

The change affects how sites are listed in search results on mobile phones. Sites that are mobile-friendly will appear higher in search results, and unfriendly sites will appear lower.

We examined traffic statistics on a number of sites that are mobile-friendly, as well as sites that are not (“unfriendly” sites). We looked at traffic for a week before the algorithm change, and a week after.

We found that the unfriendly sites suffered a 1.3% drop in traffic. However, the mobile-friendly sites also saw a drop in traffic of 0.4%. This could have been for reasons unrelated to the Google change.

The bottom line is that the algorithm change was certainly no mobile-geddon! The impact was actually very small.

However, Google and other search engines are likely to give increasing importance to mobile-friendliness over time. We are working to make all our sites mobile-friendly over the next few months.

See more details on our mobile-geddon results study.

Recently I needed to order a custom neon sign. I searched the web and found several companies that could do what I needed. I used an online form on one of the sites to ask a few questions, and sent e-mail to a couple of others. The answers came back via e-mail, and I chose one company over the others.

I went back to their website and I was very surprised to find that the company is located in my town, just a few miles from my business!

I had them make the sign, and I was very happy with the results. But the important lesson here is that I found the business via the Internet. I never saw their ad in the chamber of commerce newsletter or their listing in the yellow pages; I didn’t even consult those resources. It was just a lucky coincidence for me that this company was local (because shipping neon signs can be expensive).

I’ve learned that I can save a lot of money by searching the web for my business needs. My flyers are printed in Florida; office supplies are shipped directly from one of the big online companies; tools come from a company in Washington, and so on.

As a purchaser of goods and services, my business can take advantage of the very best deals anywhere in the US!

But it’s equally true that as a provider of goods and services, my business must now compete with others all across the country.

That means several things:

  • As I small business, I need a good Internet marketing plan and an effective website.
  • I need a compelling value story that will lead customers to choose my business over the hundreds of others they will find on the web.
  • I need to use my website to get new customers and retain my existing customers, which may require me to rethink my entire business process.

It’s easy to ignore these challenges when you are faced with all the day-to-day challenges of running your business. Some small businessmen think they are immune to Internet competition. Just remember – that’s what your local bookstore might have said before

For help creating a professional website for your business, we recommend LunaGraphica.

As an Internet marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant, I often get requests like this:  “I need to be number one on Google, and I don’t have a lot of money to spend.  How cheaply can you do it, and how long will it take?”

Sadly, the answer to this type of request is usually, “You can’t be number one on Google.”

If you think about it, you will understand why.  Imagine for a moment that, as an SEO expert, I have a magic wand that I can wave to instantly move your website to the top of the search results for any search terms you choose.  As soon as I do that, one of your competitors will pay their SEO consultant to wave a magic wand, and move their website to first place, ahead of yours.  Then another competitor will pay another consultant, and then another, and another.

Soon there are thousands of SEO consultants waving magic wands.  But since there is only one first place, and only ten listings on the first page of search results, it’s clear that most of the competitors will not be on the first page.

Furthermore, Google, Yahoo and Bing (the big three search engine companies in North America) don’t really like SEO consultants doing things to affect search engine positioning, so they regularly “break the magic wands” by changing their algorithms.

The Internet once held the promise of leveling the playing field, so very small companies could compete with very big companies.  But as the Internet has grown, it’s become more competitive.  It’s now difficult and expensive to get good visibility in search engines.

Of course, the competition varies depending on your business.  If you are a taxidermist and you want to promote your services to people in San Diego, California, it won’t be too hard to achieve good results because there are a relatively small number of local competitors.  But if you are a mortgage company and you want to reach customers throughout the United States, it will be very hard and very expensive to achieve top placement in the major search engines.

Also, results take longer to achieve than in the past.  The major search engine companies intentionally delay changes in search engine positioning in order to thwart SEO practitioners (this is just one way in which Google “break the magic wands”).  So instead of 4-6 weeks, expect to wait 3-4 months for significant results.

What You Can Do

So how can you use the Internet to promote your business?

FIRST: understand that Internet marketing is no longer a quick and inexpensive way to bring traffic to your website, but it is actually more important than ever.  In a recent study, almost 80% of respondents stated that the Internet is now their primary source of information when choosing products and services.  In other words, having an effective web presence is now the single best way to reach your potential customers.

So you need to plan and budget for ongoing Internet marketing, just as in the past you may have paid for regular newspaper ads, radio spots, or direct mail.  Consider shifting some of your ad spending from traditional media to the Internet, or possibly even increasing your overall marketing budget in order to take advantage of Internet opportunities.  Most companies don’t yet have a good Internet marketing strategy, so there is an opportunity for you to get ahead of your competitors by establishing a strong web presence now.

NEXT:  recognize that Internet marketing is more than just search engine optimization.  Depending on your needs and your type of business, you may need to consider SEO, link building campaigns, Pay-Per-Click advertising, banner ads and sponsorships, affiliate programs, e-mail list promotions, blogging, article syndication, Internet community pages, or other techniques.  Unless you plan on becoming an expert in Internet marketing, you should find a full-service consultant who can explain the options and help you to choose the most effective programs for your business and budget.

FINALLY:  be suspicious of anyone who promises extraordinary results.  There are still a few SEO tricks that can deliver fast results, but the search engine companies actually monitor for sites using these tricks.  In most cases they will quickly lower your position in the search ranks, and in some cases even remove your site from the search results entirely.  As the old maxim says, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

The author can be reached for Internet marketing assistance by contacting LunaGraphica Inc.