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Search Engine Optimization and Website Marketing


#1

Friends,

It became apparent when I first built my custom jewelry website that
potential customers doing searches had to be able to find it on the
search engines using relevant keyword searches. That was almost
seven years ago. I read all I could on the subject of search engine
optimization or SEO. This included sites devoted to the subject,
newsletters and forums. Seven years ago the search landscape was
much different than today. Google was just an infant. Search engines
came and went. They merged or used each others results. Change was,
and still is, the norm. They eventually evolved into what we have
today, the big three, Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Well what have I learned over the past seven years? If you want to
be ranked highly in the organic or non-paid search results you had
to follow certain guidelines to make your site search engine
friendly. What amazes me today is how little site owners and
webmasters use proven SEO practices as part of their site design.
When you mention search engine marketing they usually think of paid
search or pay-per-click. You still have webmasters using all flash
sites, title tags that say “Home”, and who exhibit a total disregard
for simple SEO practices. I have read recently that even when given
recommendations by SEO marketers their advice is often not followed
by site owners or IT managers.

Part of the problem might be that comprehensive SEO is difficult and
practices must be constantly adjusted to meet new challenges. One
way to do this is not to put all your Internet marketing eggs in one
basket. It doesn’t matter whether that basket is a certain search
engine or a particular group of keyword phrases. Also as many SEO
experts say, “relevant and original content is king”. This is very
true, however, off site practices are also important such as
relevant inbound links and other marketing practices. One new area is
the blog. I recently added a blog to my site and have found it to be
a valued addition. I can post my new jewelry creations as they are
completed with a picture and description.

Something else that amazes me is that there is so much emphasis by
the search engines on who has the largest data base or pages
indexed. The problem here is that people generally only look at the
first page of search results. Some even only the first listing on
that page! Well that means that only the first ten sites out of
millions are even looked at by potential customers. So what
difference does the rest of the listed pages really make? Maybe
searchers will become more sophisticated and use more than a two or
three word phrase to search. Or maybe local search (using a place
name in the query string) will become more popular with time. Both
of these developments should be important to site designers.

The bottom line is that basic SEO is simple and should be used by
all site designers/owners. Simple SEO doesn’t cost a thing. Also the
search landscape is constantly changing. Sites need to be constantly
updated not only for the search engines but for their visitors. Fresh
content is important. Lastly I hope that organic search will remain a
part of the Internet. If it is eliminated completely I think we all
will suffer a great loss.

I welcome any comments and questions you might have about this
subject.

Tony Payne
Payne’s Custom Jewelry


#2

I want to add one thing to this because it’s a pet peeve of mine,
and fits in nicely with this sentiment:

The bottom line is that basic SEO is simple and should be used by
all site designers/owners. Simple SEO doesn't cost a thing. Also
the search landscape is constantly changing. Sites need to be
constantly updated not only for the search engines but for their
visitors. Fresh content is important. Lastly I hope that organic
search will remain a part of the Internet. If it is eliminated
completely I think we all will suffer a great loss

It’s not just fresh content, but what I don’t understand is, why do
people spend money on ads listing their Website when all it says is
"Under Construction" or “Coming soon” or worse, it’s just a page with
photographs that can’t be clicked or enlarged or that have no
associated with them, or everything is marked SOLD? Or,
why spend money offering a special item and then make it difficult or
impossible to find it when you go the Web site?

I’m a little bit cranky on the topic of fresh content. I agree with
you wholeheartedly, and I am shamefully behind in that regard on my
own Web site. I started out with the best of intentions. I spent a
long of money to obtain a professional look and simple navigation,
and then got bogged down in all the work. The Web site aside, in
addition to designing jewelry - both fabricated and beaded with the
ratio of the former to the latter continually growing - I have to
inventory every piece of raw material, then add finished pieces to
inventory, price the piece, and remove the raw material from the
parts inventory. Then, to get it up on the Web site, I have to
photograph the piece, Photoshop the photograph, write the
description, put it all into HTML, test it to make sure it works,
then upload it to the Website, and then if I’m really on a roll, I
create an e-mail announcing that there’s something new. I’m
overwhelmed, there’s only one of me, and I find that I spend so much
time working on the jewelry that I don’t have much juice left to
promote it. Notice how SEO isn’t even currently on the list?

Still cranky, but willing to believe that confession is good for the
soul.

Linda


#3

This is all very interesting as the company I work for does a lot of
search engine optimization with great success for many companies, I
make jewellery as a hobby, and what Tony says is correct the Search
engines are constantly evolving and updating the methods they use to
spider and rank sites, but fresh content with suitable inbound links
is definitely the way to go. Just one point Tony you missed the
opportunity to place a link to your website after your signature.

Regards
Martin Evans
www.domeweb.co.uk (My employer)
www.zoob-toys.co.uk (My wife’s site she sell’s ZOOB Construction toys)


#4
The bottom line is that basic SEO is simple and should be used by
all site designers/owners.

Tony,

To borrow a phrase from a 1940’s movie: “Would you explicate?” I
haven’t a clue as to what basic SEO is.

Thanks,
Del


#5

Yes, the basics can be done by any individual with novice computer
skill. However, optimization can be a full time job. As Linda
mentioned, our full time work may be creating, so time spent
photographing, editing, and uploading may be eating valuable family
time. The difficult part is providing professional quality
photographs and finding secure, honest, help overseas.

However, the statistics show revenues are steadily increasing for
online sales. The trade is changing and a larger number of consumers
are turning toward the internet for purchase or study. So websites
and marketing may be the difference between thriving and surviving.

Googles patent on ranking sites is available. Savvy marketing
individuals are studying this type of literature and pulling current
tips for optimization.

All in all, selling online remains difficult. Very few sites are
created overnight. It may take years to generate regular sales.
Traffic is only a piece in the bigger puzzle.

Ed Cleveland
www.kashmirblue.com


#6
To borrow a phrase from a 1940's movie: "Would you explicate?" I
haven't a clue as to what basic SEO is

Below are some of the basic steps in search engine optimization
(SEO). Mos t search engines use a mathematical formulas to determine
which sites will b e ranked near the top of their search results in
their organic or non-paid l istings. There are hundreds of variables
that might affect where a web page is ranked for a queried keyword
phrase. Site pages should be in at least the top 10 search results to
receive qualified traffic and the higher the ranki ng the better. I
feel that anyone who owns a web site should do some SEO re search.
The steps listed below are only a beginning.

Title Tag- Always put your primary keyword phrase for a page in the
title me ta tag. For example in the HTML code for your page: Your
Page Title here with Keyword Phrase. This is what shows at the top
of you r browser when you view a web page. It is also used by the
search engines a s the title of that page in their listings. This is
probably the most impor tant determining factor in site listings.
Always consider each page on your site as an entry page!

Description-Using the keyword phrase in the description meta tag is
still im portant for some search engines. It is sometimes shown below
the title in th e listing. Some search engines, such as Google,
spider the page and select t he text to be used in their listing.

Links From other Sites- The search engines use a formula to rank
site pages that includes the variable of how a site is linked to
other sites. Related a nd quality inbound site linkages are very
important in page rankings.

Visible Text- Keyword phrases also need to be mentioned in the
visible text of a web page. Each page should have a basic theme. The
most important keywo rds should be listed at the top of the page and
in bold text if possible. Th e keyword phrases should also be placed
a few times in the other visible tex t of a webpage. This should not
be done in a manner that is not natural to the copy of the page.

Alt Tag- Include the keyword phrase in the Alt tags of pictures if
appropria te. Pictures and graphics are not seen by search engine
spiders (robots).

Tony Payne
Custom Jewelry Designer
Payne’s Custom Jewelry
www.paynesjewelry.com
Phone: 601-898-2903


#7

Tony, Can you share your website? I am in my 2nd year with my website
and would love to see what everyone else is doing with theirs !

Which brings up another question – how does everyone find the time
to make the jewelry, inventory and keep it all straight on the web ??
Since my stuff is more one of a kind, I feel I should pull it right
after I sale it. How does everyone else work with that ?

Thank you,
Tina
SilverandGems.net
(which is down because my inventory is
off due to all the shows I have been in over last month)


#8

Learning SEO is probably best done outside of Orchid because it’s
more than just tweaking a site after it’s been built

Here’s an address for a free online newsletter: “High Rankings
Advisor”, published by a great woman named Jill Whalen:

Jill is extremely knowledgeable; you can actually learn SEO just
from studying her newsletter!

I don’t have any business connection with her but I’ve benefited
greatly from the way she shares her knowledge so generously.

good luck!
Bill


#9
how does everyone find the time to make the jewelry, inventory and
keep it all straight on the web ?? Since my stuff is more one of a
kind, I feel I should pull it right after I sale it. How does
everyone else work with that ? 

The time factor is the hardest part - lately I’ve been making my
jewelry in the morning and doing the web stuff, mailing, everything
else in the afternoons and evenings. Since I’m freshest in the
mornings this works pretty well for me, but sometimes if I have lots
of orders, my whole day is spent at my bench. Since using the
internet to market my jewelry, most of my work is now custom work,
and the design work for a customer can take as long as the actual
work at the bench, so the time crunch can get pretty hairy sometimes
and often the site gets stale in the interim. Also, I probably should
mention that I no longer have family at home to care for (except for
being the main goffer for my mother who is in an assisted living
home) so it’s not like I need to make time to notice the children and
husband - everyone has to do what works for them.

As soon as my web site started to generate business it became very
apparent to me that I couldn’t do both the shows and the web stuff -
I opted for the internet since the shows were getting too much for
me. I had to admit that I am growing too old to heft that booth and
tote that display case.

As far as pulling the jewelry as soon as it is sold, I usually leave
it up for a while as examples of what my stuff looks like. Lately,
I’ve not had time to make anything that is not custom - I really
wanted to have a bunch of new stuff on the site in time for the
holidays but I don’t see it happening.

Jan
www.designjewel.com


#10

Tina,

Which brings up another question -- how does everyone find the
time to make the jewelry, inventory and keep it all straight on the
web ?? 

I just finished mine after 3 years of on and off work. It is done
entirely in Macromedia Flash and Action Script, and is
semi-interactive. All my jewelry is enetered in an Access database,
from which I can generate an XML file. The Action Script program
reads in the from my XML file which contains such
as the name of piece, materials, qty, price and location
of the image file. The good thing is that I don’t have to change the
HTML or program anything anymore. Once I upload new XML file and new
images, the program knows how to read it in and display it.

It was a lot of work to do all that, despite the fact that I am a
former computer professional with an MA in Comp. Science. Somewhere
down the middle I really regretted ever starting it and not hiring
someone to do it. And I didn’t even get to the optimization part! So
my advise for those who haven’t started yet, get someone professional
to do it. You will save a lot of time (which you could spend making
jewelry).

cheers to all

Ruslana
www.atehmodus.com


#11

Tony !

Thanks a mil for doing a great job of clarifying the SEO issue.
Inasmuch as I am a septagenarian, I need all the help I can get from
the cyber generation. I have always thought that cyberspace commerce
might hold opportunities for the older generation people who might
otherwise be physically handicapped. For several years I have lurked
on the idea, but when I see the difficulties that the cyber geeks
encounter, I remind myself that it is no panacea. Every person I have
observed doing the web thing has encountered tremendous difficulties
and seemingly has resigned himself to enormous commitments of
time.It may be that one might be better off going with something like
an Ebay store.

Thanks again, Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


#12
To borrow a phrase from a 1940's movie: "Would you explicate?" I
haven't a clue as to what basic SEO is. 

I was about ready to debut a website when a friend recommended an
online SEO class. I had spent 2-3 months on-and-off creating
beautiful images, cool JavaScript functionality and more. After the
first few lessons of the SEO class, I realized that in terms of
optimizing my site for search engines, I had done just about
everything wrong. I’ve put my site on hold until next year when I’ll
have the time again to work on it. Since I hope to sell through my
site, and not just to previous customers, I see no point in mounting
a site that stands a miniscule chance of attracting new customers.

I highly recommend that anyone who hopes to sell via the Internet
take this free online class. Of course if we all take the same class
and implement the recommended procedures, we’ll be competing with
each other for the top of the search results, but may the best
man/woman win :-).

Here’s the link:
http://www.gnc-web-creations.com/seo-optimization.htm

Beth


#13

Hi, Beth,

I see no point in mounting a site that stands a miniscule chance
of attracting new customers. 

Why does it not make sense to put up the site you have ready, work
on a better one when you have time, and substitute it for the old
one? Isn’t this possible? I need to get a site up, and my husband is
encouraging me to just get something up and improve it later.
Anyone-- is there some reason not to do this?

–Noel


#14

Noel,

I think it’s good to have something up. For the past 3 years I had
to tell to customers so many times " my website will be ready in a
few months" - it was really embarrassing. Even if you don’t attract
people trough search engine browsing, you can at least point people
to your sight when they actually ASK for it!

Ruslana, whose website is up but still not working perfectly :slight_smile:
www.atehmodus.com


#15

Hi Noel,

Why does it not make sense to put up the site you have ready, work
on a better one when you have time, and substitute it for the old
one? 

I think it makes good sense to do this.

The search engines robots can take months to find your new site - I
think it was about 6-8 months or so before my site got ‘crawled’ by
them. Until they find you, your site won’t come up on any google
search, no matter what words you search on.

So as long as you don’t change your domain name, it will help you to
put something up on the web, even if it’s just one page with keywords
and a pretty picture.

Then when you do replace it with a superduper new website, at least
the googlebots will already know where to look.

Eva.
Eva Martin
http://www.evamartin.com


#16
Why does it not make sense to put up the site you have ready, work
on a better one when you have time, and substitute it for the old
one? 

Nope, there is NO reason NOT to do this. My site is like that, time
to work on it is always a problem. You still get exposure.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#17
I need to get a site up, and my husband is encouraging me to just
get *something* up and improve it later. Anyone-- is there some
reason not to do this? 

Yes, because the temporary becomes permanent! And you will not get
good responses from search engines if the site is not done properly
and if it’s full of “under construction” signs.

Will your site include e-commerce or just be a “gallery”? If it’s
just a gallery, that can be done pretty affordably, esp. by someone
outside of the Chicago area.

I would encourage you to find the money to pay someone to do it. The
organizational task of gathering your photos, writing everything,
etc., is enough.

Elaine

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#18
Why does it not make sense to put up the site you have ready, work
on a better one when you have time, and substitute it for the old
one? Isn't this possible? 

Hello Noel, me again. Seems like it’s our day to chat.

Here’s one reason why the "something now, something better later"
thing is not such a great idea: first impressions. You’d be surprised
how literally people take the word “surf” when it comes to the web.

In another, non-related business we had a marketing firm do some
before-and-after research for us. We put up a thin, “shell” site for
two months then came back later with a more complete offering. Less
than 10% of the people that visited the original site returned to
check out the new site: we’d “burned” them and they were lost to us.
By contrast the return rate on the new site was well over 40% which
we thought was very good for a new site. When it came to putting up
my site for jewelry I delayed it for many months so that we could get
something up that would have a chance at flying.

A big issue to consider is that once something is up on the web it
kind of takes on a momentum of it’s own, often against your best
intentions. If that first something happens to be none too "purdy"
then you might end up stuck with that a lot longer than you planned.
I can offer specific details if you’d like but I’d rather do that
offline, to protect the guilty as they say.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
www.touchmetal.com


#19

I did almost exactly this, although I perhaps didn’t plan to have
the site redesigned originally.

My first site was designed by a teacher of website design on the
artistic side. I found that he was unable to help me with a lot of my
queries about SEO and the more functional areas of the site, such as
shop…and also because he was still teaching and designing in his
’spare time’, he was hard to get hold of, hard to get him to make
changes within a workable time frame, hard to communicate with other
than via email. It cost me about AUD$3500 and was useless in terms of
accessibility, navigation and functionality! In my opinion I was
ripped! (isn’t retrospect a great thing!!)

12 months after the original site went up, I registered a new domain
name, had a new site designed and invited some friends along to
create additional interest and traffic…

The second designer had been a carpenter, was studying himself (not
teaching) and had a young family to feed…powerful motivation to
keep your clients happy…

He created a site that was to my brief which included a shop and
gallery I could maintain. The site hits went from a few hundred to an
average of 6,500 per month in six months…they have been as high as
9,500. He has willingly and often modified and tweaked the site, been
available almost without exception within 24 hours to talk/email me,
has made changes quickly and efficiently at all times. I don’t feel
my queries, suggestions, requests have ever been brushed off. To date
it has cost me less than half the original site, even with all the
changes and additions!

However, there is still a lot of work to be done and in fact I need
to get back to it NOW and update it majorly!

I think the point of mounting a site is simply that your existing
customers can keep in touch with what you are doing and introduce
their friends. However, you may find that it does not rank in the
search engines, that you get few visitors and fewer sales. At the end
of the day I think what matters is what YOU want! Are you looking to
provide just a web presence for your existing clients or do you want
to have a site which achieves big hits and is more commercially
viable…

Best regards
:slight_smile: Kimmyg
www.northcoastbeadmakers.com.au


#20

A great resource for SEO is http://searchenginewatch.com.

You can get a lot of stuff for free – if you get really into it, you
can pay for a membership, but you probably wouldn’t need it.
Specifically, here is a url to SEO resources on their site:

http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156511

Cheers,
Tonya Miller