In Search Of Eldorado: The Hunt For Rank Position One

By: Russell R. Collins

Designing and building a website can be a thankless task. You spend hours of your time planning, designing and creating the whole site, carefully assembling it into a work of digital art. Having lovingly pored over every word and put heart and soul into a decent navigation system and a well thought out layout, you eagerly publish your site and hold your breath for the torrent of visitors. It is somewhat disappointing, therefore, to find that days can go by without a single hit. You know that it can take a while for the search engines to identify and crawl your site, but as the days crawl by it can become very disheartening.

After a while, of course, people do start to stumble across your site, and maybe you get one or two orders. This could encourage you, and you start to wonder how many you might come to expect over the next few days or weeks. With regret you start to accept that making your first million by Christmas seems somewhat unlikely. You may start to wonder why, since at least some people have started to find you, you don't have more people coming. But thinking about it seriously, what have you actually done yourself to ensure that your site attracts visitors? It's all very well having a site that is so good that people want to stay and buy, but they need to know it exists first.

Perhaps you have come across websites that talk about how to make sure your website is optimized so that it is more easily found. This mainly reflects on the way in which search engines find you and list your site in their search results. Bearing in mind how many millions of searches are carried out every day on the internet, making sure that the major search engines know your site exists, and list it, will be of huge benefit. However, being listed is one thing, being high up on those lists is quite another.

When people search the internet using a search engine, the list of results is ordered by rank. The higher the rank of your site, the closer to the top, on the first page, your website will be. If people enter the keywords 'alcohol free whiskey', and this is what your site sells, then you would hope that your website would be fairly near the top, or at the top, and definitely on the first page of results. On Google, a search for 'alcohol free whiskey' actually brings up 216,000 results, which at ten results per page is well over 21,000 pages. Incredibly, only 3% of people ever look past the first page of results. That means that 10 website owners will enjoy the company of 97% of visitors, whilst 215,990 website owners will only ever see 3% between them.

You may have come across websites or companies encouraging you to let them work their magic on your site, so that you can see it float rapidly to the top of the pile, and become number one by next week. You may also have tried implementing a few tricks yourself to get your site ranked higher. I have certainly come across many hundreds of rogue companies that claim to have the single biggest secret of the internet, something which no one else can possibly know or achieve, that will have your site dancing and singing at the top of the search results in no time. Possibly with little flashy lights all round it, a couple of dancing girls and some jazzy music playing in the background. The truth is that there simply is no one single way of getting your site to the top of the list, and in fact no guarantee that it ever will. There is a whole range of tactics, some of which have more effect than others, it's true, but all of which need to be employed to have any real chance of making a difference. It's also important to be aware that your site will not become the number one keyword result overnight - it can take days, weeks or more likely months.

Be very wary of those sites that suggest that the best way of getting your site noticed is to use keywords. Although this is certainly true, search engines now take the number of keywords as only a minor factor in judging a site's rank. Search engines got wise to the fact that many website owners were simply cramming great blocks of keywords into the code of a page just to get attention. They get attention now all right - and the result it that they lose their rank position very quickly. There are many other ways now which the search engines use to judge how good a site is, one of which is its popularity. This is measured in several ways, but the most significant is how many other websites are linking to yours. The more links, the more popular, and this in turn implies more relevant and useful.

Because as web designers we can sometimes become a little too close to our designs, and sometimes don't just need to step back away from our glitzy masterpiece, we need someone else to take a good hard look and give us some feedback. Invariably these people like to be paid, but I have come across a nifty little site that offers a free assessment of your site. Although it's free, it's carried out by hand, and their advice is pretty thorough. They don't just focus on keywords, but look at a whole range of ways in which your site could be made friendlier towards the search engines, and get ranked higher. If you haven't tried them already, I'd recommend getting a review of your site for free. Even if your site has been around for a long time, or if it's brand new, they'll tell you all the things you could do to help improve your rank position.

Knowing what your site does well, and what it doesn't, will help you go a long way towards getting your website listed higher. I have a site which was hardly visible at all in Google's results - even I got bored trying to find it. After spending a couple of days implementing a few very simple changes that made very little difference to the way the site appeared, I resubmitted it to Google. I checked it earlier today, and it's now ranked as number one! It's a niche market, but even so, it's now the first site people reach, and more and more people are finding it and spending money, which is great! For two days' work, it was well worth it. I'd certainly recommend you get your site checked out; from my experience it really made a big difference.

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No visitors? Buried on page 10? If you want to be found by Google and the rest of the search engines, you need to have an optimised website. Find out how simple it is to have a free evaluation and make your website profitable today.

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