SEO – Do Web Designers Even Know What It Means?

My story has been written several million times. I’d had this great idea; I was pretty good with the internet. In fact I made most of my purchases through the internet and considered myself a proficient surfer so decided that I wanted a slice of the pie. I’d decided to set-up my own online business.

So what did I do?

I considered myself to be reasonably intelligent. I’d managed to pass a law degree and had worked in various I.T companies performing assorted tasks. I had a pretty good knowledge of business and set about finding suppliers and products that I could sell on my new online venture.

I had everything I needed and was ready to go. All that was needed now was a good site. If I had a great site I couldn’t go wrong, it’s going to look great. People and orders will soon be flooding through my virtual shop doors. Not quite!

The web designer?

Off I went and found myself a web designer, I’d seen his work it was fantastic. His sites were truly immersive; a pleasure on the eye and everything seemed to flow nicely. I explained what I wanted and several thousand pounds later away he went. The results looked fantastic. I was very pleased with his work. He had a few final bits and pieces to do but then we were ready for..

Go LIVE! Woohoo!

Everything was ready, the site was ready. I had three thousand products loaded. I’d spent a week analyzing prices, making sure I’d got mine just right. I was sure that it was going to be a huge success; ok admittedly I was relying primarily on the internet for sales. After all, I’d pumped a size able chunk of cash into the site! I waited for an email from my web designer to tell me the site was live and prepared myself for the rush of orders that would surely flood in. The email arrived.. The site was live.

So what happened?

Well, erm.. nothing! I waited patiently, asked my web designer if there were any problems with the site. He reassured me that everything was fine, that he’d submitted the site to the main search engines. It would just take them a little while for them to visit and index the pages. Sure enough the search engines visited, but still nothing. Months passed, in fact several years passed. I’d pretty much given up on the site, putting its failure down to other factors. My competitors must have just had more attractive sites.

Yes they were more attractive, but not to humans. The pages on my competitors sites had been setup in such a way that the search engines preffered them. But why? I wondered. So I started researching, I’m happy to admit that I’m stubborn. I don’t like to give up and I certainly don’t like failing. As I spent more time researching I started finding fundamental problems with the way the site had been setup. Sure, I had 3000 products but as far as the search engines were concerned each of these product pages were the same. I may as well of had one page and one product.

I’d fire over changes to my web designer faster than he could keep up. He made the changes but it was soon apparent that I needed more control, I asked for access to the site and started making changes myself. In the years that followed I tweaked and changed the site, small changes so that I was able to effectively gauge the impact of those changes. I started link building and took great pleasure as my site began climbing its way out of the abyss until ultimately working its way to the top 3 on all the major search engines for the highly competitive key phrases I was targeting.

This site aged me! There were times when I felt like banging my head against a brick wall. I’d make some changes, generate some links and it would climb. I’d change something else and it would start dropping again. Eventually I knew exactly what worked and what didn’t, it had been a long painful learning curve but the knowledge I had gained would be of great benefit long term.

SEO is by its nature intelligent informed speculation. The search engines don’t release details of their ranking criteria. We have to second guess them constantly, stay one step ahead.

I don’t bear any grudge against my then web designer, he did his job. It was my own naivety that resulted in the sites poor performance. I really did believe that if I built it they would come. Unfortunately, whilst this might happen in films it certainly doesn’t happen on the internet.

Since this original site I have been involved in the development of many sites, domestic and commercial. Sites which largely as a result of the above experience and on-going experiences consistently perform well achieving good rankings and high traffic volumes.

With a little help your site can be successful.

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