The following is from an interview with Mr. Web Guru by Jim Wyss of the Miami Herald. First the pictures then I’ll type it out for the search engines.
The Miami Herald
Special Report – Small Business – Sunday February, 25th, 2007
Editor – Mimi Whitefield – [email protected] – 305-376-3732
Search Engines: On Top Of The World Wide Web
With billions of pages on the Web, getting noticed is both art and science. A search engine expert shares tips on how to avoid getting lost in the shuffle.
Type “Web marketing expert” into Google and the top-ranked site- among the 53.7 million matches- belongs to a one-man outfit in Glenwood Springs, Colo. called Mr. Web Guru.
There, Robert Wright takes delight in owning the spot and beating out competitors with Silicon Valley addresses and armies of Web developers.
After making sure The Miami Herald would help him solidify his position by providing a link to his site (www.mrwebguru.com), Wright agreed to share a few of the tricks he uses to help companies – including his own – climb the ranks of search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and AltaVista:
CONTENT IS KING
When search engines scour the Web cataloging sites they are looking for words – not movies, graphics or whizbang design aesthetics. If your homepage is packed with Flash and Java animations, it may look great to viewers but confusing to search engines. “Code is like giving a search engine rubber bands to chew on when all they are looking for is content,” Wright said. Making sure you have more content than code on your site is also key.
When Wright started working with Acupuncture and Massage School in Kendall about three years ago, the site had a code to content ratio of about 80-20 and ranked 90th and below on search engines. After flipping that ratio by snipping out redundant code and beefing up descriptive content both on the site and in the meta-tags that search engines scan for, the school is now regularly in the top 10 nationally. “You can have all the links in the world [to your site] but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any content,” he said.
KEYWORDS ARE KEY
Knowing which words and phrases customers are plugging into search engines is critical to Web success, Wright said. There are a number of free services that offer data on the most popular keyword searches, but Wright recommends premium services such as Word Tracker (www.wordtracker.com) or Keyword Discovery. (www.keyworddiscovery.com). Those services can help identify industry trends and spot which keywords are driving traffic to your competitors. Those tools would help you see, for instance, that while the word “car” is indeed a popular search word, it’s far too general to be useful, whereas a phrase such as “used Chevrolet pickup trucks” would have a much better conversion rate, he said.
“Mom-and-pop sites that are trying to figure out why their site is not bringing them any traffic need to start by looking at their keywords,” said Wright. And finding the right keywords is far too important to leave up to hunches or “guesswork,” he said.
There was a time when you could create a company website and then forget about it. Now, many search engines are programmed to respond to sites that have fresh and updated information Posting press releases or industry news is one way to keep your site fresh. Wright also recommends starting a blog and attaching it to the website. “Search engines are into news,” he said.
BE LINK SAVVY
Most people know that having other sites link to theirs is key to moving up the search engine ranks. But not all links are equal, said Wright. Reciprocal links are good, but an unreciprocated link to your site is even better, he said. Likewise, links from educational or government sites are far more valuable for page ranking than form a .com of .net site, he said. “Sometimes a single link from a .gov will set you apart from your competitors,” he said.
SPREAD THE WORD
While search engines will eventually track down your site, you can give it even more visibility by being listed on any number of online directories, including Yahoo’s directory. LookSmart, Dmoz, and GoGuides. Those directories – some of which have a fee – are edited to keep out fake or spoofed sites and have the added benefit that they are crawled daily by Yahoo!, Google and other search engines, Wright said.
PLAY BY THE RULES
While most firms that offer Web marketing or search engine optimization services play by the rules, some don’t. Such “black-hat” SEO operations often promise overnight results but deliver long-term pain. Trying to game search engines to drive up a page’s rank can result in penalties or being blacklisted. (In fact, one of Mr. Web Guru’s niche services is rehabilitating sites that have been banned by Google).
Search Engines have Webmaster guidelines that can keep you in the clear. “Play by the rules,” he said. “Because no matter how well you promote your site, if you are under penalty, you will never rank well.”
Robert Wright, a.k.a. Mr. Web Guru knows all the tricks involved in lifting your company’s Website into the top ranks of Google and Yahoo’s search results.