Ignore Webmaster basics at your site’s peril

Recently, I was asked to help promote a local brick and mortar’s business web site. They wanted to see more traffic from their local community, especially during the end-of-year holidays.  I said, “sure; I’d be glad to!”

Making an already appealing site more friendly to local search is basic web 101, right?  They’ve earned some top Yelp reviews on their own, and it’s a nicely done site. A quick and easy job! I was given the site’s passwords, and popped inside to check on the first page’s keywords.

Wait a minute.

These keywords have nothing do with this business. Why would they have entered, “vera, wang”, for example, since they don’t sell clothing, much less Vera Wang?   Those were the actual keywords used for his first page.  In fact, the entire site’s keywords would confuse anyone, much less a search engine. I began to understand his low page ranking.

Fundamental Skills are Best

Web site professionals learn to thoughtfully submit sites to the directories, pay attention to relevant keywords, and in general, help share content effectively. Since my client’s professionally created site had been online for a few years, I thought the basics were done, and fine-tuning would be a simple task.

The “promotion guys” charged my client $1,500 per month for quite a while.

Well, the site was verified by Google Analytics, but I couldn’t find it in the Open Source Directory, or any of the backbone directory sites of the web.  Facebook and Twitter accounts existed, but weren’t optimized, either. I documented the current page rankings for my new client.  Since he’s a specialist in another area, he trusts others to take care of his web presence.

I showed him the lame keywords, and we talked about his poor search results. He nodded his head; he knew his search results should be better, so he’d fired his “web positioning guys” several months ago.  He’d been surviving on his original site content since their departure.  Now, his business was starving for new growth.

Protect Your Golden Goose

If you’re lucky enough to land a client paying you $1,500 per month, don’t kill your “Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.”

Just like planning for Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the basics that will make the best meals. Would you forget to serve mashed potatoes and gravy at Christmas?

Take the time to enter your client’s domain in the basic anchors of the web, such as the Open Source Directory, and the rest of the search engines listed.

Don’t be dazzled by the buzz of a Twitter account, or a Facebook page, and short-change your client. Be sure to go back, and check your entry; did the phone number appear correctly, or do you need to fix it?

Care about your client. If you don’t plan, and set the table properly, everyone will go hungry later. Because I’ve been building sites since 1996, I always begin a site’s promotion with basic site submission; leaving social media for last.

If your page views aren’t improving as you expect, this is where you should check first. You may find out, it may never have been done. If the web can find the site, then the business can at least be found by it’s neighbors; social media enabled, or not.

My client’s “web gurus” promoted their expertise with social media; but ignored the basics, and weren’t able to deliver the traffic they promised. Like the boy in the fairy tale looking for the golden eggs, they killed their own Golden Goose!

Rewards for All

After re-working his entire web presence from scratch, I have new respect for what I’ve learned during my years of building and promoting web sites.  “Basic webmaster skills” learned on sites such as Search Engine Land, and Site Pro News, are critical anchors for any site’s successful social media efforts.

Four weeks later, our page views are climbing, and we’re dominating the local search engine results. We’re leveraging the web for future business success, and it’s working.  When his colleague asked me how I did it, I told him, “I planned carefully for our success, just like planning a Holiday dinner!” My resurrected, “Golden Goose” client, tossed me a broad smile over his shoulder, then reached for his ringing phone.

Stacey Mayer

Stacey Mayer

Artist, optician, social media manager; viewing life through clear eyes.
  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Stacey,


    When I tested I prospered more easily. Makes total sense but sometimes we get stubborn, or silly, or in my case, I didn’t want to feel the ego sting of failure.

    Wonderful message here because you can learn so much more and become much more successful by simply checking up on your website than you could do by ignoring your metrics, or your overall performance.

    Again, for me it was an ego thing, and I suspect many other people simply don’t want to embrace that they were off, or wrong, or have tons of room for improvement. Embrace this truth and you can become really successful online or offline.

    Thanks for sharing Stacey!


  • http://inspiretothrive.com/ Lisa Buben

    Interesting, I just went through this with one of my sites and it was an eye opening experience. I delved a little more into the webmaster tools and keywords and it already helped in 36 hours. Though I haven’t been able to get a site into the Open Directory. I hear they don’t take brand new sites and that it may be 6 months after submission? Is that still correct?

  • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

    These stories make me cringe. There seem to be 2 ends of the spectrum: people who want to pay $20 a month (or something similar) because that’s all they think it should cost to “do SEO”. And on the other end, people who pay a lot ($1500 a month is a lot for most people I know!) and think that just because they’re paying a lot they must be getting something good.

    There’s more to SEO than throwing some keywords around, as your client discovered. I wish we could head off all those bad eggs before they take people’s money!