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Escape the Web Wasteland

Ask a few friends with websites if their site help them sell, and the answer is usually something along the lines of "some". Asked why their site fails to make a real difference in their business most have no idea why.

Digging deeper, most businesspeople fume at the mention of their Google and Yahoo rankings. They paid big bucks to get their website "just so", spent weeks of effort, then tossed it out into the wild and expected it to rank high in Google. A week or so later, they type in their business name, and voila, they have a #1 Google ranking! Success!

Well, not really... Truth is, soon they discover their shiny new site isn't bringing in any new business. What they don't know is their site's living in The Web Wasteland Land - a place where old and new websites go to die.

"All politics is local" - when Tip O'Neil said that he was describing Web search, too. What's this mean? It means that (almost) all web searches are geographical.

Let's take Sue, a Miami resident who wants to buy a new scooter. Invariably, Sue goes to Google, Yahoo, MSN, or her favorite niche search engine and types in the search term (you guessed it) "scooter".

After a few milliseconds the search engine presents Sue a page of listings for scooter companies - in Guatemala, Anchorage, and Dubuque. She also gets results listing .pdf files about scooter batteries, scooter videos - but nothing relevant to buying a scooter near her.

However, Sue searches again. This time she uses the phrase "scooter Miami". Voila! Now Sue gets more relevant scooter listings in Miami. Still, for some reason she doesn't see the scooter shop (Bill's Scooter Emporium) her uncle recommended, and unfortunately she can't remember their name.

That's because "Bill's Scooter Emporium" and many other Miami scooter retailers still won't show up - because they think they're scooter stores, while in fact they're really Miami scooter stores.

Simply put, the text on their website pages isn't saying scooter + Miami to the search engines.

The truth is, unless you're a national retailer or service provider, you probably serve people who seek your particular product or service within their local geographic area. Few people who need their car windows tinted are going to drive 300 miles to get it done. Whether you consider your business to be geographically focused or not doesn't matter, people who seek your product or service will want to buy it within a particular geography (Miami scooters) - and that's how they'll always search for it. They ARE geographically-focused, so you MUST be.

That's why your website must talk to the search engines in terms they understand. If your pages don't talk product + geography, your site's likely going to end up in The Web Wasteland Land - or at best, on the outskirts.

Going back to the Miami scooter example, Sue used "scooter + Miami" as her search term. Grossly oversimplified, search engines process her search looking for web pages with the strongest appearances of these two search words (how often they appear on a page and how close together they are), and serve them up to Sue ranked 1 to x zillion (high to low) based on that strength (and some other lesser factors).

So, if you're a scooter store in Miami and want to show up at #1 when Sue searches for you, the pages on your website need to contain some phrases like these:
* You just can't find a better scooter in Miami...
* Scooters for Miami...
* The best scooters in Miami...
* When you need a new scooter in Miami, call us...
* Scooters for Miami, Dade County, and South Florida...
* And so on...

The closer "scooter" is to "Miami", the better. The key is to demonstrate to Google and Yahoo a tight geographic and product (geo-product) linkage. You connect the product (scooters) with geography (Miami) to create a geo-product linkage the search engines then use to your advantage.

How do you know when your site is in The Web Wasteland land? Test it! The very best way to test you website visibility is to use a tool specifically-designed for the task. WebPosition, WebCEO, and others are available as are vendors who are more than willing to run the test for a fee. Short of that, write down some logical search phrases (geography + product) and search for yourself in Google, Yahoo, and your other favorite search engines.

Some example search phrases Bill's Scooter Emporium would use to test include:
* Scooter Miami
* Miami scooter
* Scooter shop Miami
* Miami scooter shop
* Miami scooter dealer

Escaping The Web Wasteland. If your business shows on page 2, you've got work to do. If it shows up on page 3 (or is a no-show) - you're in The Web Wasteland. The key to breaking out of The Web Wasteland is to understand that there are three basic areas you need to address; your page text, META page descriptions, and META keywords.

1. Page text can be easily modified to achieve a geo-product focus by whoever maintains your website. And, if your business serves multiple geographies, you can include multiple phrases, or select pages to have a separate geo-focus (a Miami page, a Punta Gorda page, etc.).

2. META Descriptions are short paragraphs within the HTML code which describe the content of that particular web page. Though you never see that HTML on a page, if you right-click on the background of a web page and select "View Source", notepad will pop up with the underlying HTML code from the page. Using our scooter example you should expect to see something like this: 3. META keywords are words and phrases located within the HTML code at the top of most web pages that talk to search engines. Near the top you should see something like this (again, using our scooter example) While there are dozens of additional tweaks and nuances which can help or hurt your search engine placement, these three areas can make a huge difference in how well you web pages and website shows up in a search engine. An experienced search engine optimization (SEO) company can get these right quickly, handle the endless additional nuances, and keep an eye on things on an ongoing basis.

However, whether you fix your site yourself or hire it done, you should constantly check (monthly at least) the placement of your site to make sure it stays out of The Web Wasteland Land.

Regardless of your product or service, it's clear that if you achieve a better tight geo-product linkage, over time Google, Yahoo and the other search engines will reward your work with increasingly better placement and more customers.

Leave your competitors in The Web Wasteland, and sell more today!

Learn more about how the Web can help you sell more. Visit Ty Shewmake at www.RetailSalesSystems.com Retail Sales Systems helps small and medium B2B and B2C businesses create the perfect storm of e-sales success using the web, SEO, drip and nurture, and more. We specialize in implementing world-class ACT and www.SalesForce.com drip marketing systems.

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