I was having a new business meeting with a client yesterday. He has a restaurant and he’s looking for ways to stay on top of the economic downturn.
The first problem: Nobody can find his restaurant. It’s in an obscure location in San Francisco. His website in also on an obscure location on the Interent — buried somewhere in 6.5 billion web pages.
I typed the restaurant name in Google.
It didn’t show up.
I scrolled, scrolled and scrolled through pages and couldn’t find it.
I typed it in quotes.
I typed in the name of his restaurant, plus the keywords: San Francisco. Vegetarian food. Italian. Pizza. Pasta. The address.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
And finally I just went to the site. It was one of those static websites. It screamed: “We’re gonna party like it’s 1999.” It was so static that there was not a single word of type on the entire site that Google would ever be able to find. It was all pictures and graphics! And of course, it had never been updated. (The way Google ranks you higher in the search results is by how often you update your information.)
I said: “That’s why you need a blog, not a website.” Because blogs are filled with keywords that Google can find — and they’re updated much more often than websites so they end up higher in the search results.
We then searched for this blog, Visibility Shift.
Out of 8,000,000 results for “visibility shift”, Visibility Shift is the first one on the list in Google! In fact 6 of the first 10 hits refer to it.
I said: “I built the page yesterday.”
“Yes, it immediately got to the top of Google because I built a Twitter following first. I sent 850 Twitters out first and they’ve been retweeted thousands of times, along with the words ‘visibility shift’ in the URL.”
“And I have 11 articles in the blog already, and they’ve been picked up by thousands of spiders and bots and RSS feeds and search engines and are already reappearing on dozens of other websites.”
This blog has already generated more traffic in the first week than my old static website got in a year.
We looked for my other blog, which has been on the web for 5 years. It has a very generic name, so it generates a ridiculous number of results when you try to find it. (A mistake I’ll never make again when naming a blog.)
Even so, out of 451,000,000 results (nearly half a billion) it’s number two in Google!
It’s received a fairly respectable 200,000 visits in the past 5 years. I’ve done a lot of search engine submissions, and Twitter, and link exchanges. But another eason the search rank is so high is because it’s hosted on Google’s Blogger — which automatically gives it a higher search rank than my static website will ever have.
This was a good lesson in those fancy terms marketers like to use — SEO and SEM.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) organizes the pages on the website for both the search engine spiders and the visitors to the site. Search engines look for your site based on combinations of words on the site. The more words you have on your site, the easier it is to find. That’s why a blog is so much more effective than a static webpage.
“Oh!” he said.
Now, Search engine marketing (SEM) are the things you do off the website to bring more traffic toward it. These are like putting your URL on business cards, restaurant reviews in an online news site, press releases with your URL and company name in them, and anything else that generates incoming traffic and links — which moves site pages higher in search engine results pages.
You want things that spread your URL around the web — like Twitter, a public Facebook listing, and links from blogs and online zines — or review sites like Yelp!
See, I said, “that’s why social media, press coverage and blogs are way, way, way more important to your business now than an old static website will ever be.”
And this is why if you have a business that depends on your customer being able to find you on the Internet when they’re hankering for pasta, you need to have the words: “Italian restaurant and San Francisco” show up as many times as possible on your blog–so Google can find those words.
I said, “You know, this is totally cheating, but we could just rename your new blog: ‘Italian-restaurant-pasta-sanfrancisco.com.’” That will be a lot more unique and useful than the generic name of his restaurant.
“What a great idea!” he said.
“That’s available in Go Daddy and will cost you only $4.99. Plus my monthly retainer.”
He was sold. I got the job. We’re building a blog and a Facebook fan page this week. I’m looking forward to seeing his restaurant turn into a destination restaurant — one of those obscure restaurants people love to drive across the city to discover and show off to friends.