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#1 03-12-13 11:20:27

Lady-Hynarc
Verified Member
Registered: 09-04-12
Posts: 649

Search Engines

As part of my end of year business review I am looking at my marketing strategy and support systems to establish whether they currently fulfil their purpose and, if not, what I need to change.  Coming from an analytical background I tend to want everything to be nicely integrated so that it all work together to provide me with everything I need at the touch of a button.  With today's technology this should be relatively easy.

So far I have identified that actually my website and the associated support system do not need to be integrated in the way that they are, if at all.  So I have decided to separate them completely, for the moment, and redefine the purpose of each so that I get the best out of both sides.

In considering the way forward with the website I have had cause to think about the way that my site will be found, both by specific and generic searches.  If someone is seeking my driving school out specifically, because I come so highly recommended,  roll  then search engines work perfectly.  If however someone is doing a generic search then my position within the search engine results pages becomes more of an issue. 

Comparing my website to others for the same search terms has made me doubt the benefit of fighting for a good position.  It seems to me that the following criteria are going to be most important when the ranking is decided by the search engine.

1.  Purchasing power
2.  Name
3.  External Links
4.  Update Frequency

Now within these criteria, I have no real control over the first three and the last one is very dependent upon time which is at a premium for a single woman enterprise.  For companies that can afford to pay for position 1, 2 or 3 then the search engine will serve them well.  However, the budget spend to achieve that is way beyond justification for a business such as mine.  A big name, such as the AA or RED, will always snag a number of potential clients just because they are known.  Once again I cannot hope to compete with such an influence except within the small but growing band of very satisfied ex-pupils.

I cannot control quality external links, which I understand do affect search engine rankings.  I can link to as many places as I like but unless they reciprocate (unlikely from the DSA) it doesn't do my ranking any good.  The need to be part of a growing network I understand but cannot particularly influence it.

I could update my website regularly, perhaps via a blog, but this requires time which I do not have at present. 

In the event that the prospective client looks past all of the above and searches further down the list in an attempt to find a more suitable instructor, I then have the battle of price.  I will not compete with the 10 for 99 brigade (will not rather than cannot) - I'm worth more than that.  Furthermore, I would rather have clients who see worth as being more than just pound signs.

All this leads me to the feeling that maybe I should not try to compete at all in search engines but leave it to those who have the time and resources to fight over the scraps!  I think I will get my website professionally designed because I do want a web presence and it does have a somewhat 'homemade' feel about it at the moment.  However, I know what I want and what I want the website to put across.  It is important to me that it projects the right image of my driving school.

I'm not sure why I have posted all this except that it has clarified my view somewhat.  I would of course be interested in any views you might have on this subject.

Thanks

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03-12-13 11:20:27

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Re: Search Engines



#2 03-12-13 12:34:49

sofasurfer
Verified Member
From: Surrey
Registered: 30-07-13
Posts: 310

Re: Search Engines

It's not what you want from your website that is important, it's what you customers want ! For a website to succeed it has to be exceptionally good. There are lots of average / poor sites. You get one chance with a visitor, if they are not immediately impressed they will never come back.

Do you a need a global presence ? Do you need a nationwide presence ? Probably not.

The demographic you are aiming at have moved on; forget the website use social media.

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#3 03-12-13 12:49:33

MAZ
Verified Member
From: N/Wales, Cheshire
Registered: 13-06-06
Posts: 838

Re: Search Engines

So are you saying sofasurfer, that if you are looking for a profession service now, you don't "Google"' you look for someone on Facebook who is whinging on about their bad back, or as has just come up on another forum, discussing the pupils they "dread"?

Maz.

Last edited by MAZ (03-12-13 12:50:55)

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#4 03-12-13 13:35:06

Roadmaster
Verified Member
Registered: 04-03-04
Posts: 5,670

Re: Search Engines

For a website to succeed it has to be exceptionally good.

What makes them exceptionally good?

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#5 03-12-13 18:35:09

Lady-Hynarc
Verified Member
Registered: 09-04-12
Posts: 649

Re: Search Engines

sofasurfer wrote:

It's not what you want from your website that is important, it's what you customers want ! For a website to succeed it has to be exceptionally good. There are lots of average / poor sites. You get one chance with a visitor, if they are not immediately impressed they will never come back.

Do you a need a global presence ? Do you need a nationwide presence ? Probably not.

The demographic you are aiming at have moved on; forget the website use social media.

I'm not sure I agree with you.  My website is my shop window.  As such it is not for the customers to define what I should put on display.  I make that determination based on what I feel is most appropriate.  I feel that my current shop window is a little drab and old so I need to spruce it up to make it somewhere people want to stop.  I think is average at the moment. 

I wouldn't agree that the demographic has moved on as much as we like to think.  A lot of people now browse the web from android type devices rather than PC's which means my shop window needs to be appropriate for that medium as well.  That will be included in my review as well.

As far as Facebook is concerned, it is very much a friendship network - of course when I was young, friendship meant more than just an acquaintance that you know nothing about - and therefore works on the basis of recommendation and referral.  Someone asks the question...and someone answers.  Of course the success of a test pass gets posted on their newsfeed so their friends get to see it and that is good advertising in itself.  The commercial aspects of FB I am yet to be convinced about.

What is my demographic?  When I first came into this business I was fed the line that my demographic is 17/18 year old school leavers.  In reality very few of my pupils fall into that category.  Most are a little older, some much so.  This is one of the difficulties of finding an advertising mechanism which appeals to all the various demographics.  Initially I need my shop window to catch the eye, not the person, and give them a reason to look further in my shop.  That is the secret...and what makes it so difficult.

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#6 03-12-13 18:41:10

Lady-Hynarc
Verified Member
Registered: 09-04-12
Posts: 649

Re: Search Engines

Roadmaster wrote:

For a website to succeed it has to be exceptionally good.

What makes them exceptionally good?

Now this is an exceptionally good website...

When you get there...wait and watch.

I know it isn't entirely genuine but it is clever... and it certainly grabs the attention.

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#7 03-12-13 19:40:41

Laurence Jacquemin ADI
Verified Member
From: Crawley, West Sussex
Registered: 26-11-13
Posts: 96
Website

Re: Search Engines

Lady-Hynarc wrote:
Roadmaster wrote:

For a website to succeed it has to be exceptionally good.

What makes them exceptionally good?

Now this is an exceptionally good website...

When you get there...wait and watch.

I know it isn't entirely genuine but it is clever... and it certainly grabs the attention.

Interesting website, however when do lot of people search the internet? Quite often at lunch time during work, imagine the scene, someone is searching google clicks on this website, website states beeping and flashing madly at them, then manager walks past. 'Oh crap' quickly clicks off website 'i'm never going on that website again!'

The list of fours things that you state is only the start to SEO, Google local plays a BIG part in rankings, as Google wants to see businesses that are local, well know and popular, why do you think if you search for something like 'driving lessons manchester' that AA does not come up on the first five pages?? If people are searching on google for driving lessons they are unlikely to click on AA, they know of the AA and if they wanted AA driving lessons then they would search for this on Google.

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#8 03-12-13 19:52:23

Laurence Jacquemin ADI
Verified Member
From: Crawley, West Sussex
Registered: 26-11-13
Posts: 96
Website

Re: Search Engines

Lady-Hynarc wrote:

Comparing my website to others for the same search terms has made me doubt the benefit of fighting for a good position.  It seems to me that the following criteria are going to be most important when the ranking is decided by the search engine.

1.  Purchasing power
2.  Name
3.  External Links
4.  Update Frequency

Now within these criteria, I have no real control over the first three and the last one is very dependent upon time which is at a premium for a single woman enterprise.  For companies that can afford to pay for position 1, 2 or 3 then the search engine will serve them well.  However, the budget spend to achieve that is way beyond justification for a business such as mine.  A big name, such as the AA or RED, will always snag a number of potential clients just because they are known.  Once again I cannot hope to compete with such an influence except within the small but growing band of very satisfied ex-pupils.

I would not say that the name has a huge influence on ranking, it certainly helps, what about AA and RED? their website url's have nothing to do with any of the keywords that people many search for, unless they specifically search for the website names. Lots of driving schools are called 'Pass with paul' or something similar, and their url is 'passwithpaul . co . uk', they can still rank well on Google.

Other factors as well are making sure all your on site SEO is optimised, such as keywords in title tags and in content, but not overdone, so the text reads driving lessons, driving lessons, driving lessons...

I self taught myself about SEO and have got my website to number 3 on Google out of 58k results, one of the ones above me being yell.com, who rank well on Google, probably because they are a huge company and have separate pages dedicated to loads of keywords like 'driving lessons Crawley' 'Driving school Crawley'. I did use to be ranked number 1 but then got overtaken by another website who used an 'SEO expert' they probibly spend a few hundred pounds to get they website made, and the 'SEO expert' will charge for any updates, and like you say if the website is not updated regularly this can effect rankings.

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#9 03-12-13 23:20:50

sofasurfer
Verified Member
From: Surrey
Registered: 30-07-13
Posts: 310

Re: Search Engines

Maz, I tend to use Facebook quite a lot, to buy and sell, to keep intoich with people I know, family etc. Nearly all of the people I have taught are on FB, some are 'friends', most are not. It is local, we have pages for our village, town, pub, school etc. If I want an airline ticket, holiday, car etc. I use the web because it gives me global or national reach, I don't want pupils in Manchester or Paris.

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#10 03-12-13 23:25:56

sofasurfer
Verified Member
From: Surrey
Registered: 30-07-13
Posts: 310

Re: Search Engines

Lady H,

Why do you say that site is good, I found it annoying (blue screen) and slow. I got fed up after 2 clicks :-(

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#11 15-01-14 08:45:04

favershamdesigns
Member
From: Faversham, Kent
Registered: 15-12-13
Posts: 18
Website

Re: Search Engines

Hi Lady H,

You don't necessarily need to update your site that often. Look at your competitors' web sites, in your local area, and see how often they update their sites. If you build a good web site (aesthetically pleasing, calls to action, no coding errors) and then you update it slightly more frequently than your competitors, you'll be in with a good chance of getting higher in the search results.

I mention this because we've recently set up a computer repair web site for the town where we're based. When we started the site, there were around 10 businesses in the town offering similar services, mostly one-man-band operations working from home. We thought it would take ages to climb the ranks however after around four weeks, the site is already in second place for 'town name computer repairs'.

Have a look at what you're up against and then that will give you a good idea of how much you need to invest in terms of time and money. Also remember, you can pay copywriters to create content for you.

Kind regards


James


Faversham Designs
Lease your small business web site with full search engine optimisation for just 10 per month

www.favershamdesigns.co.uk

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