Web Conditioning: Get Your Site in Shape!

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It’s not talked about much, but woodland animals are notoriously unresponsive to advertising. That’s why you don’t expect to see many billboards when camping. The website of a brick-and-mortar business acts much like a cyber billboard, a vitally important informational hub placed on the Internet with anticipation that visitors will come across the site to explore its content. Yet, many businesses, particularly the small-to-midsized, have their websites built with no thought of its positioning or upkeep; inevitably these websites are parked in the interactive weeds, lost in the woods of a different sort. Too many of these smaller businesses don’t realize the missed opportunities of an improperly aligned website. A representative website isn’t a box to be crossed off a to-do list for a business, but instead an integral component of today’s successful business.

Think of haphazardly positioned websites as being interactive slouches of sorts; they are out of shape web entities sure to be overlooked by search engines. In order to shape up, the sloppy website must shed its baggage and get toned. And like physical fitness there is no finish line, just positive results from proper maintenance. While no one will confuse ICMediaDirect.com with Bally’s or Equinox Gym anytime soon there are some common solutions hammered down for clients. Websites have got to become web conditioned or else stay unnoticed.

Hup, two, three, four…a web site in boot camp is treated a little differently than our GIs, perhaps more harshly even. The first thing we do is slap the website out of its isolation by building some links. This isolation, this lack of “link love” as it’s known, accounts for a great deal of why websites will sit unnoticed – and too often business owners are too busy to notice that their website is being ignored. And unless the business manager wants to drop everything and learn a new skill, he or she must find someone, a professional hopefully, to do this. There isn’t any getting around this. Search engine algorithms study links (as links serve as efficient e-recommendations) and do not reward an absence of them – at all.

A classic example of an isolated website that of a restaurant owned by a friend of mine. In the first dot-com boom he spent a good deal of money to build a state of the art website for his place. He loved the site, the staff and his friends loved the site, and everyone who was shown the site just loved it. But this was 1999 and search wasn’t a high priority; maybe it wasn’t wrong back then to just assume that people would find the site somehow.

The search process has improved like gangbusters since then and good real estate on the search engine results page (SERP) is at a premium. My friend’s website had been rendered invisible, lost in the weeds. People could only find it if they looked specifically for it by name; when using descriptive words such as “Lounge + New York City + Dancing”, it was not even in the top 100 mentioning of the major search engines. As far as interest generated via the Internet, he might as well have built a billboard in the woods.

And like an army recruit, candidates for web conditioning are broken down before they’re built up again, better and stronger. This means that instead of merely posting the facts of the website’s business with some nice pictures, we emphasize about what prospective customers might want it. For instance, an antique dealer specializing in foreign goods might think about what the kinds of items are most popular before creating a keyword list that people might enter into search engines when looking for those kinds of things, as opposed to just announcing themselves as a top dealer in foreign antiques. People want to find what sellers have, not just to find dealers. It sounds too obvious, but just look at how much advertising is wasted in announcing greatness – web copy for a business should be designed along the lines of appealing to the visitor, in anticipation of what they want. It’s how search works.

And once the visitor finds this site, the battle begins anew. The language, the same language that includes strategically placed keywords must now double as effective copy. The visitor’s attention must be held. This is the optimizing process, this is reworking a website. There are no shortcuts, no easy way to do it, but conditioning your website is like maintaining good health – it takes a bit of thought, some balance in the means of action, and regular check ups. It’s a lot to list now, but thinking right about websites done wrong is the first step to getting a website well again. If you have a friend or relative whose website is listless and ignored – do him or her a favor and tell them to get with the program.

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