• You need a web presence and you need to provide an easy access route to useful information for your customers.
  •  Search Engines, particularly Google, are very important for your site.
  • Analysing how your site is searched can provide valuable insights in the activities of your visitors.
  • Keep the design of your website simple; Google has a dozen words of text and a search box and they’ve done OK!
  • Remember that across the web unique quality content is valued by search engines.
  • Avoid irritants on your site: question whether each element adds value to the user experience.
  • Search-targeted marketing works but you will almost certainly have to spend some dollars with credible third parties to market your web presence.


How does Google work?

The algorithms Google used to return high speed quality results, are a closely guarded commercial secret. However, the following commentary is provided by Google at http://www.google.com/technology/index.html

Google runs on a unique combination of advanced hardware and software. The speed you experience can be attributed in part to the efficiency of our search algorithm and partly to the thousands of low-cost PCs we've networked together to create a superfast search engine.

The heart of our software is PageRank™, a system for ranking web pages developed by our founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. And while we have dozens of engineers working to improve every aspect of Google on a daily basis, PageRank continues to provide the basis for all of our web search tools.

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes or links a page receives; it also analyses the page that casts the vote.

Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important".

Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search.

Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search.

Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query.

Google's complex, automated methods make human tampering with our results extremely difficult. And though we do run relevant ads above and next to our results, Google does not sell placement within the results themselves (ie, no one can buy a higher PageRank).

A Google search is an easy, honest and objective way to find high-quality websites with information relevant to your search.

How does Google filter out shady operators?

Google is very good at spotting if unsavoury operators are unfairly trying to promote a site by using unethical means. Although search engine optimisation (SEO) is a legitimate activity, some companies offer services that can only be delivered by using techniques that will cause a site to be removed from the Google index.

As one operator said : ‘We have been on the internet since 1996 and had always taken a very conservative approach on our site. For nearly a year though, we were bombarded by e-mails from third party linking programs which stressed the importance of linking for relevancy.

"Finally, we broke down and joined one of these programs. Unfortunately, the program used hidden links and Google removed us from the index within a week. I guess it's true that anyone can get fooled into buying snake oil." - Frank, owner of a limousine services company For further information see: http://www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html

How can I work out my page rank?

This is very simple. Just click on the link below and then download the Google toolbar: http://toolbar.google.com

The whole process should only take a few minutes but once you have the toolbar downloaded you will be able to view the page rank of all the pages you visit. This has the benefit of providing you with an indication of the popularity of a particular page.

Search Tools

Most website visitors are incredibly impatient. They have no interest whatsoever in exploring your site architecture — no matter how interesting it may be.

If you have search and navigation tools that allow your site visitor to find what they are looking for within a couple of clicks, you will leave your visitor with a feeling of maximum satisfaction and increase the possibility that they may return. They may also tell their colleagues that yours was a useful site.

On the other hand, if your visitor finds the search tools on your site to be difficult to use or ineffective, there is a very strong possibility your visitor will be gone forever. They may also tell their colleagues that yours was a poor and unhelpful site.

Web statistics lies, damn lies and web stats!

Unfortunately, many website operators use the relative immaturity of web media to convince potential customers that their site is more important than it really is.

What really counts are your visitor numbers. Visitors are human beings who buy things. Hits are computer-generated ‘ticks’ that have very little significance in marketing terms.

Explanations of the commonly quoted web statistics

1. Visitor session: an individual interacts with your website for a period of time.

2. Page views: during their visit they view a few pages of information (typically around 4-6 per session).

3. Hits: in the course of viewing pages of information on your site, your visitor’s browser asks your computer to retrieve the elements that make up a page. This can include text files, graphic files, logos etc. Each request constitutes a hit on your server. It is not unusual for a single visitor or user session to generate 20-50 hits depending on how many graphics and other elements you have on your page. This makes hits a very spurious measure of a site’s activities. Visitor numbers, very much like the attendance at a soccer stadium, are the real evidence of your website’s popularity or otherwise.

Analyse your server logs

While on the subject of web statistics, be sure to look more closely at your server logs or get someone to do it for you. Many statistics packages allow you to look into how your site is being used, where your visitors go and why they leave.

Your server logs will provide you with valuable market research on the surfing habits of your on-line audience, Best of all, other than the cost of some monitoring software, this market research is free.

For example, it may be that certain pages on your site are causing problems for your visitors. Or you may discover the most popular material data on your site is not what you would have anticipated.