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Old 30th December 2005, 10:12 PM   #1
lfranzman
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Location: Santa Rosa CA
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Default No ranking... anywhere...

This is the first forum I've joined but I've learned a great deal from just what I've been reading so far.

I believe my non-existent rankings are due to just changing web host providers (2 months ago). But they weren't very good before either. With the old host, each page had a google ranking of 3/10. Now the home page is 4/10 and all others are 0/10... not an improvement.

We used to show up at best in the top 100 but now we're not found in google, msn or yahoo. I've submitted site maps, modified keywords, and modified pages, adjusted titles to match keywords and company name.

I'm working on getting a Miva store on-line at the moment but any advice on how to improve the content, keywords, etc would be greatly appreciated. But there's no point in having a store if there are no visitors. We have some visitors but they are by word of mouth and not from the search engines.

I am my husband's webmaster and this site was my first exposure to html so advice there would be helpful too. I'm a programmer by trade so I'm sure I can figure it out eventually, but the web is not a mainframe. My husband, being a one-employee small business (if you don't count me), is a typical IT customer... wants it yesterday, free and why should it take so long? Any suggestions on how to monitor visitors? ranking? etc? What should I be doing to increase traffic?

Thanks so much for your time... meanwhile I'll keep reading...

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Old 31st December 2005, 09:18 AM   #2
RayGoneFishing
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Hi Linda, that's a very nice website you have there! I'm sure you've put a lot of work into it, and it shows. Especially the photos are great, I could have spend a lot more time looking at them, but then I wouldn't have had time to reply to your post...

I don't think that the change of hosts had anything to do with the drop in ranking unless you also changed domain names at the same time. About two months ago Google started a series of major algorithm changes that really mixed up the SERPs. That's probably what knocked your site down and the timing was just a coincidence.

I did a few quick searches for "hibiscus cultivar" (without the quotes) and found your site at #3 in Google, #9 in Yahoo and not among the top 50 in MSN. Not too bad, actually, although I'm not sure if that's a term visitors would use to find your site. I picked it because it's quite prominent on your pages.

When I followed that link on Google, though, I landed on the page about Daniel, with a picture of a beautiful flower, but there was no description or explanation, and most important, no link to your main pages. I suppose many visitors would get stuck right there and just hit the back button instead of entering your site.

I realize of course that it won't be easy to write a unique description of every cultivar you offer, but if you included some text on the cultivar pages and links to your other pages, it would make navigating your site much easier. You probably didn't expect any visitors to enter your site by those picture pages, kind of like thru the back door, but the thing is, you never know which pages the search engines choose to display in their results. Therefore it's very important to have links on all pages so visitors don't get stuck in a dead end and leave your site before they see the information you want them to see.

On your home page I see a similar problem -- very nice design with a great picture, but almost no text. And no text means no keywords for the search engines... I think it would be very helpful here to write a few paragraphs about your business and hibiscus cultivars in general. That would allow you to get your most important search phrases right on the home page and would give the search engines a better understanding of what your site is about.

You could actually move some of the text from your About Us page (particularly the second and third paragraphs) to the home page since it's more about hibiscus in general than about you. Then expand a bit on that information and grab the attention of visitors and search engine spiders right there on the front page.

Another thing I noticed is that all your pages have the same title -- A Touch of the Tropics - tropical hibiscus specialists. It would be better to give each page a unique title that describes the content of that page, not the content of the site as a whole. The search engines prefer unique titles and it would also give you additional space to put some of the search phrases you want people to find your site under.

Hopefully I didn't overwhelm you with too many suggestions. I think you're doing very well with your website and with a few changes, it has the potential to really give your business a boost.

Happy New Year!

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Old 31st December 2005, 08:59 PM   #3
lfranzman
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Default Great advice... thx!

[quote=RayGoneFishing]
About two months ago Google started a series of major algorithm changes that really mixed up the SERPs...

...I did a few quick searches for "hibiscus cultivar" ... found your site ....
When I followed that link on Google, I landed on the page about Daniel, ...no description or explanation, and most important, no link to your main pages.

.... home page I see a similar problem .... no text means no keywords for the search engines... grab the attention of visitors and search engine spiders right there on the front page.

... all your pages have the same title... The search engines prefer unique titles and it would also give you additional space to put some of the search phrases ....
[quote]

Ray, first I really appreciate you taking the time to reply and for giving me such great and detailed advice. All of this is stuff that's needs to be done so I'll add them to my list. And second, thanks for the compliments on the site. I admit I was a bit terrified to see what this forum thought of it. And I'll pass on your kind words about the pix to the owner-grower-photographer. There's still a lot of work to do (not to mention clean up caused by the creek that is now running through 3 of the greenhouses... it rained 6 inches over night here).

I have some follow up questions.
1) What is an SERP? search engine ....? And is there any way to know what changes were made to Google's algorithms?

2) Excellent idea on adding descriptions and links to the popups! Also great advice on the home page. I had an idea that the home page was an issue but was unsure and procrastinating. Do the SE's rank the entire site higher if they like the home page? I was wondering if the pages were ranked independently and as long as other pages were found it would be okay...

3) I was also wondering about the sameness of the titles. Regarding the extra space for keywords... does this mean that I can put keywords a, b, c on one page and d, e, f on another... and that this will improve the odds of finding the site? Before the web lost us, the page that was ranked highest was the about us page (#100+ using "hibiscus") and I couldn't figure our why. Perhaps the sheer volume of text?

And finding us under "hibiscus cultivar" is nice but "hibiscus" is a much more popular search and under that we don't exist.

Last question, what about "Hibiscus" vs "hibiscus" in the keywords? Or plurals? Should I have all of them or would the SE's think I was repeating myself to increase hits?

Thanks again. And Happy New Year.

p.s. We have friends in Solola and my son spent a month down there in August. Great place, Guatemala.

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Old 2nd January 2006, 03:18 PM   #4
esearing
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HI Linda,

You might also consider using common words like "Tropical Flowers" so Google knows what a Hibiscus Cultivar is. A quick paragraph on the home page might help. Make sure all pages navigate back to the home page or to each other. The only other thing is Content Content Content and more Fresh Content.

Use Alt tags in the images to describe images for the Search engines.
<img src="path/image.jpg" alt="a pretty flower" />

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Old 3rd January 2006, 09:16 AM   #5
RayGoneFishing
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Hi Linda, glad you found the suggestions useful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lfranzman
I have some follow up questions.
1) What is an SERP? search engine ....? And is there any way to know what changes were made to Google's algorithms?
Search Engine Results Page. Sorry for the lingo.

The algorithms of the search engines are among the best kept secrets in the world. Compared with Google, the CIA are real blabbermouths. After each algo update there's lots of speculation in the SEO community and very little hard information. Then after a few weeks or months, when a clearer picture begins to emerge, the next algo update hits and you're back to square one...

The latest algo update in Google (nicknamed Jagger, if you want to search for it) that took part in three stages in Oct and Nov appears to have affected several areas, like reciprocal linking, duplicate content, over-optimization, etc. Only Google knows for sure what happened, and they are not telling

Quote:
Do the SE's rank the entire site higher if they like the home page? I was wondering if the pages were ranked independently and as long as other pages were found it would be okay...
Basically each page is ranked independently and an internal page can rank higher than the home page. What happens, though, is that inbound links play an important role in the ranking and they usually go to the home page. If you look at Google's page rank (don't pay too much attention to it, though, it's just one factor that determines ranking, among many, many others), you'll find that the home page of a website almost always has higher PR than the internal pages. So the home page carries more weight than internal pages.

The home page is also often seen as kind of a summary of the entire website. Having your most important search phrases there gives the search engines an idea of what the site is about. The effect is often that the home page comes up for relatively general search terms, while internal pages are more likely to come up for more specialized search terms.

Quote:
Regarding the extra space for keywords... does this mean that I can put keywords a, b, c on one page and d, e, f on another... and that this will improve the odds of finding the site?
Yes, definitely. The search engines give more weight to keywords appearing in the title of a page than to those appearing somewhere in the body of the page.

Each page should have a title that describes the content of that page, like a newspaper article. So on different pages you would typically have different titles, with different keywords in them. Don't get carried away with the keywords, though -- seven words or less works best.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the search engines display the page title in the SERPs and a good, descriptive title will entice more users to click on it than a string of keywords that was written with only the search engines in mind.

Quote:
Before the web lost us, the page that was ranked highest was the about us page (#100+ using "hibiscus") and I couldn't figure our why. Perhaps the sheer volume of text?
Yes, most likely. Search engines love text and the more you have on a page, the easier it is for them to figure out what the page is about.

Quote:
And finding us under "hibiscus cultivar" is nice but "hibiscus" is a much more popular search and under that we don't exist.
Thought so... I think I wouldn't have used the word "cultivar" in a search phrase either if I hadn't seen it so often on your website...

That leads me to another thing, though -- general vs. specific search terms. The more general a search term, the more competitive it is. In Google, for instance, "hibiscus cultivar" brings up only 66,000 results, while "hibiscus" brings up almost three million results. So it's much easier to rank for specific terms than for general ones.

Instead of targeting "hibiscus", you might want to target more specific terms like "tropical hibiscus", "hibiscus care", "buy hibiscus in california", etc. If your site comes up on the first page for several of these specific terms, it can bring you as much or more traffic than ranking on page 5 for the general term.

Quote:
Last question, what about "Hibiscus" vs "hibiscus" in the keywords? Or plurals? Should I have all of them or would the SE's think I was repeating myself to increase hits?
Uppercase vs. lowercase doesn't make a difference. Plurals can make a difference sometimes, but it depends a bit on the search phrase. Most search engines nowadays do what they call "stemming," i.e. they treat variations of a word the same. At least they try to do it that way, doesn't always work, though. So having both singular and plural on a page is usually a good thing, if you can integrate them naturally into your text.

Quote:
Great place, Guatemala.
Yes, definitely. Highly addictive. When I came here, I only wanted to stay for a couple of months to learn Spanish. Then I stayed another month and another month and another... Fortunately my skills are in demand here, so I can live where other people only go on vacation

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