I build websites for small business clients. I build a lot of them. I try hard to make sites that work and that contribute to the person's business venture. Sometimes the client makes that almost impossible. Here are some issues.
Fallacy: If you build it, they will come. Wrong. People will not visit your website unless you have a plan to promote the site.
Fact: When your website goes live it will not have any traffic (besides that from you and your brother). You will need to do things to bring traffic to the site. It will take time and money. You need to be in for the long haul.
True story: I created an attractive, functional website for a client who sells custom engraved stones. A few weeks later I get an email: "Why do I not show on google searches for the word 'custom?' I need that term!"
My client will never show for the term "custom." It isn't going to happen. That term is way too broad. It isn't a reasonable target term. You need to learn about how search engines work.
Search Engine 101: It takes concerted effort over time if you want to rank for specific terms. Several years ago you could put words into secret hidden tags and your site would rank for those terms. Not anymore. With millions of websites, you now have to have multiple pages of good information that is related to the terms you want to rank for. There are 4 factors that determine your search rankings:
- Website structure including file names, page titles and metatags.
- The content (text, photos, videos) on your site.
- Links from other sites.
- The length of time your site has been online. (Search engines value older sites more than younger sites.)
Words like “custom” are way too general. Think about it. How many million websites use that term? Search engines try to find the sites with the best, most relevant content. If there are, say, 5 million sites with pages using that term, do you really think your site has the best, most relevant content?
Even if you did rank for "custom," would that help you? What percentage of people searching on the term "custom" are actually good potential customers? You need to target phrases that qualify potential customers, so you get people coming to your website that may actually be interested in your product.
Justin Bieber serves as an example. If you add a dozen pages about Bieber - text, photos, videos - you may start to pick up traffic from searches for Bieber. You might quickly triple your website traffic. But would that help your business? It might, if you see products to 10 year old girls. But 10 year old girls probably are not going to buy custom engraved stones online.
You need to target search phrases that qualify potential customers. And you need to choose terms that people actually search on. Google has an excellent tool to help you identify good phrases.
Then you need to add multiple pages of good, relevant content to your site. You actually need to have some of the best content on the web, if you really want to rank well for a particular term. There are no magic tricks. Would you want it any other way? Would you want search engines to recommend sites that to now have good, relevant content?
Of course sometimes sites show up that do not have great content. The search engines are becoming better and better, trying to eliminate those sites.
Note that good content is just one of the factors mentioned above. It really helps if other good websites link to your site. The more the better. Also, it is helpful if you link to your site from your social media - facebook, twitter, blog, image gallery, youtube channel. All of that helps.
Most website owners get tons of spam from companies offering to do SEO (search engine optimization). That service can be valuable, if it is performed by a reputable company. Unfortunately, it is very easy for unscrupulous companies to scam website owners by promising the moon and stars and not delivering anything.
If a company says it can make your site rank on the first page of google results for any phrase you choose, you can be certain that company is unscrupulous. It just is not possible to get top 10 results for every potential term.
If your website is well-built, it should already be search engine friendly. That said, there are always more things you can do to enhance your ranking over time. A good company will help you identify appropriate search terms and will then help you add good content about those terms.
Your real goal is to get more qualified traffic to your website - not to appear on page 1 of google results. A search engine campaign can be very successful even if you do not appear on page one.
For example, say you want to target this term: "Ski Trips." There are thousands and thousands of excellent websites that target that phrase. They can't all be on page one. Competition is fierce. But it still may be worthwhile targeting that term. A good SEO guy can drive traffic to your site from that term, even if you are not on page one. If your traffic goes up - if your sales and profit go up - the campaign has been successful.
To be successful it takes concerted effort over time. You can't tweak your site one day and expect to pocket more money the next day. It may take 3-6 months before you really see the impact from that traffic.
You have to be in it for the long haul.