Google Optimisation (SEO)
After about 6 months, I stopped leaflet dropping because 80% of new clients were finding me via Google – mostly using the words ‘adelaide’ and ‘pilates’. I know this because my contact form specifically asked the question. If you Google these two words, I come pretty much top.** In fact, if you just Google ‘simon’ and ‘adelaide’, at the time of writing, I come second!
** As an aside, the 3 or 4 sites that do come top most likely paid for Google Adwords. Oddly enough, my various straw polls indicate that people may not actually 'register these' top few in the shaded background. Then people I asked said they subconsciously disregard the top section as they subliminally regard it as 'junk Advertising' (their words, not mine).
But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes - my high Google ranking - the abject Nerd in me is very proud of this. .. Although, it wasn’t always so.
My target market is people wanting to do Pilates in Adelaide. When I first checked, I was aghast that the domain name www.adelaide-pilates.com was available – especially considering the sheer number of hits yielded by Googling ‘adelaide’ and ‘pilates’. Surely it would have been ‘snapped up’ ages ago?
Well, it WAS available so I registered it ASAP.
Assuming the name alone would ensure high rankings on my target search words, I actually registered numerous of the available variants – not with the intention of using them, but just to ‘cyber-squat’ them to prevent my competition from registering them! Turned out to be a mistake – my site initially ranked about 100th.
So, the obvious conclusion is that while the domain name probably HELPS it isn't a panacea for rankikngs.
As an aside, having your own Domain Name has numerous benefits – see here.
So, My Google Rankings... No Paid Adwords?! - So What's My Secret?
I’m a nerd – reading the manual is what I’m good at. I Googled loads of articles on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and used those tips as a starting point. Then used a bit of techo ‘intuition’ and added several of my own ideas.
I have employed some 40 odd distinct SEOs (Search Engine Optimisations) and obviously, I’m don't wish to divulge them all in open forum. However, to give an insight, here's a few ‘starters’:
Content seems to help (and as our daughter would say "Der!"..) However, I think it needs to be both relevant and dynamic. If you spend a few minutes looking around my website, you will notice there is TONS of it! Info for Teachers, Student Teachers and Clients alike - in fact, this article being a good example!. As more and more people visit the site, the more popular it becomes. Google notices this, higher up the rankings I go and so on. Self fulfilling prophecy. Successes breeding success.
Use Google Analytics. This way, you get credit (not financial but 'kudos') for people who access your site without having first gone through Google. My online bookings process is 'off site' but I start the process from a link on my web site. Because I use Google Analytics to track ALL visits to my site (not JUST the ones referred to it BY Google) this means I get 'noticed' by Google every time a client books in. Without Google Analytics tracking these DIRECT visits, I'd not get the 'brownie points' from Google for them.
Don’t try a buck the system. Google will know and your site will get down ranked. For example, keyword stuffing the word ‘pilates’ a thousand times in 3 point text at the bottom of your home page in the same colour as your background is very easily detected.
Try and get quality back links - ie links to your site from other sites - that are RELATED to Pilates. I suspect the Google Bot logic gives you extra points when OTHERS are talking about your site and referring to it. Again, don't try and buck the system. If you set up small websites, just with the intention of using them to create backlinks, it will not go well for you. You think Google hasn't thought of that? Same goes if you get many links from genuine sites (ie run by friends) who backlink you as a favour but their website is about Drag Car racing. This is just a hunch mind - I may be totally wrong.
Keep your site 'on topic'. I have read forum posts suggesting better rankings by making a site bigger - just filling it with random, unrelated cr4p. Common sense tells me that a search engine as powerful as Google would find this child's play to detect. I actually break this rule with my section on IT Tips and possibly run the risk of being down ranked a tad - but if I notice that happening, I'll move the IT Tips section to a separate website and just have links to it from this one.
Be Sneaky - Run reports from the following links against your site and what SEO tricks you may have missed. Then run the same tools against your competitors' websites and to get an insight why they are beating you in the Google rankings!
Google AdWords - Potential Gotchas
Maybe I am just ultra mean, nasty and suspicious - maybe it's my training in IT Security..... But the first thing I thought of when I discovered Google AdWord charges apply when somebody clicks a site advert link was ... "hmm, so if I click multiple times on the Adword links of all my competitors, I'll blow their advertising budget....
I did more research and, as I expected, Google have actually thought of that and will start to block multiple clicks from the same IP address. Then again, most people do not have a fixed IP address so over time, you could click once or twice a week... and / or enlist friends to assist you and your IP address. Also, if using AdWords, you probablly don't want to pay for people clicking from outside your market area - so maybe look at setting filters by region.
Next Page: <Mohamed To The Mountain>