Beware of the Pirates!

Over several years I have stressed the importance of Google relevance and talked of the range of actions website owners can undertake to increase their Google ranking and content relevance.

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During this period my business has created and gone live with many different websites from a wide range of industries and industry sub-sectors. And to assist these new websites we often subcontract third parties specialising in ‘SEO’ – search engine optimisation, Google ‘Adwords’ – specialists in Google advertising utilising keywords and phrases and social media writers and specialists – providing copy, posts, boosts and activity on the full range of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Google Plus.

It’s always a calculated gamble but every now and again, it’s quite possible to let an ‘Alien’ onto the spaceship. Generally it’s a self-interested practitioner prepared to put their own profit ahead of their client’s needs.

About three years ago our company started to use the service of an ‘Adwords’ specialist. From day one the guy was pushy, inflexible and quite prepared to baffle our clients with complicated graphs and charts. Wary of his activity, the team kept a close eye on his work. Then one day it started. A client rang me, asked me whether I thought increasing the Adwords spend would assist in developing further sales enquiries. I was ambivalent as there are all sorts of factors involved. Within two weeks the client had requested an end to social media, double the Adwords spend and put their new updated website on hold, although completed.

Fair enough, what the client wants, we follow through on. The client increased their Adwords spend, actually doubled it. This doubled the provider’s profit. After six months, the client agreed to go live with the ‘new’ responsive website we had developed. But that’s not where it ended. After another two months we were informed that the client was launching a ‘new’ website. And up it went – created on a WordPress platform – with terrible graphics, lay out and copy – 75% pirated from the ‘old’ site – all courtesy of our ‘Adwords’ expert.

The real issue is that through a range of very obvious Google ‘tricks’ and subterfuges, the client’s website received probably 25% to 30% higher enquiry level. However these enquiries were not translating into sales. Why was this?

Basically the original website was attractive. It utilised professional photography, graphic design, lay out and copy writing. Headings and subheading met Google standards but were attractive. Fonts were carefully selected. The site invited people with the ‘promise’ of what was available and as well provided an ‘offer’ that was attractive.

The new website was literally a scroll down of up to eight screen sizes. It had a zillion links. There were up to five fonts per page. The photos were simply poor quality copies of the original (websites only require 75 DPI (dots per inch) so a copy of a copy can be even less). The end result was ugly, difficult to navigate and really, provided a little incentive other than ‘order online’.

Websites should be considered your business’s very own digital television/image station. Visual images and video can present your business, its products and its character in an instant. There is no point in gaining a broader audience if the resultant website is just a constant stream of copy, unrelated video and ‘key words’.

Web developers and web masters gain such titles for a reason. Digital marketing requires much more than quick fix backroom tricks, smoke and mirrors.

Let your eyes and intellect guide you. Ask to view previous work. Always be sure that something representing your business is in fact a profile you can be proud of.

Beware of companies offering SEO packages. Check their bona fides. Recently an associate of ours, a window cleaner had over $3,600 withdrawn from his account overnight by his ‘SEO company’. Why? Because his 12 month campaign was up for renewal, but rather than withdraw the payments monthly, the company just took it as a lump sum and informed him that is what he signed up for 12 months previously. Needless to say after intervention from a legal service and the telecommunication ombudsman, the money was returned.

The Nursery and Garden Industry has a wonderful opportunity to present online. Be creative, be colourful and most importantly be professional. A boring ugly website that drives drovess of people to a site only to be disappointed is a guarantee of disinterest.

Remember your website is the world’s window to look in on your business. And it can be beautiful – and profitable – if you make the effort.

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