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Making websites "findable"

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Hedwig, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Hedwig

    Hedwig WoolSilk Fanatic

    Do you know a "recipe" how to make a website more findable in search engines/google?

    I know some people put word invisibly on their page that are search terms that might be used from people trying to find them but other than that I am drawing a blank.

    I want to help my sister who has a small business with acupuncture treatments and such and has trouble finding new patients. The old ones stay so she seems to be a good healer but there are never any new patients calling in.
    Being a computer person I immediately asked her about her website. The website itself is great but when I tried to find it in google by using standard search terms a "normal" person would use when trying to find such a treatment I was not able to find it, even though the right words where in her website.

    Any tips you could give me? I'd really like to help her, she was so depressed right now. :(
  2. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    Try researching Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

    Has she tried advertising in local newspapers/magazines?

    If you wouldn't mind sharing the website, I'd like to help, maybe a "neutral customer" eye would be beneficial. :)
  3. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    One of the things that keeps Google from finding sites is the page titles. If the home page title is Home Page, change it to "Welcome to (name), an acupuncturist in (enter location) with x years experience." Make sure each page is titled similarly and add keywords to the page. Also, if you have something like Yelp available, get listed there and ask her current patients to post reviews.
  4. hydro

    hydro Well-Known Member

    Getting links and track backs from other websites that are related in content to her website is key. Aceon6's suggestions of Yelp is great, but I would also include Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Google+ etc. Those help promote the website's content as long as it remains consistent from place to place.
  5. Hedwig

    Hedwig WoolSilk Fanatic

    Thank you, I will look into the link in more detail later.

    Yes, she tried the advertising and she also gave group lessons etc and only one new client came out of all of it.
    The website is the only thing where I thought I could help.

    This is the website:

    I don't know if you can give any specific tips as the website is in German but maybe you have some ideas nonetheless?

    Good idea about the reviews!!

    Wonderful ideas!

    Thanks a lot all of you!

    If you have additional ideas, keep them coming! I will start and try to use all of the ideas when I come back from Sheffield.
  6. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Myself being a website person, an overly long page title is not good either. Most people simply don't read it once it gets long.

    I'd suggest "[name], certified (if you have such a thing and if she is) acupuncturist in [location]." The years of experience she can list in the first sentence of her home page.

    But most people don't look up services by Googling them nowadays, it's ALL about referrals! I'm not German but with all of my American friends, the very very first place we check when wanting to look up a new place is definitely Yelp. I go to Yelp first to look up reviews, THEN I click on the provided website link for more information.

    I wouldn't bother with Facebook myself. The only time I've ever "liked" a company was when they were offering a discount. :p

    But yes, getting trackbacks from other websites is exactly how Google's algorithm works. She's going to have to get the word out somehow, so other people can link back to her site. But IMO the best way is getting referrals from previous customers.

    If you're looking for any advice that might work (although I'd definitely try the Yelp route first!) redesigning the site would most likely help the search engine rankings. It's probably more time-intensive that you'd like, but it'll help. I skimmed over the code of the site and noticed that it consisted of frames. Like, the home page is cut into four parts on the screen, made up of the navigation column, the top title bar, the main content, and some page that has nothing in it besides a background color. I have no idea why the heck that's there, it's useless.

    Not only is that method completely outdated, but it also makes it very difficult for a search engine like Google to crawl through and properly index it, because each page is made up of different sections that doesn't look right if viewed separately. Google would actually be able to scrounge up each individual section but without the navigation piece to take them back to the home page, finding it is pretty much useless since you just have a page with stuff on it but without any contact info.

    I just went to the web designer's site, and their site uses frames too! Find someone else, clearly this person has no idea what they're doing. Frames went out like, 10 years ago! :scream:

    And it's not because they're German either. One of the designers I'm following on Twitter is German and he and his team come up with the most awesome webstuff: http://edenspiekermann.com/ Resize the window and you'll see what I mean. :lol: Web design responsive to various screen sizes is the newfangled thing!
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  7. Hedwig

    Hedwig WoolSilk Fanatic

    I thought I was reasonably computer savy but I don't understand a word you are saying here. :slinkaway

    There is a navigation entry on each side so that you can go back to the home page. So why is there "no navigation piece" to take me back? Is that because of the "frames" you were talking about?

    Shit, I had hoped I would be able to help her myself but I don't trust myself to build up a new site completely. I don't have much knowledge in that, I had just hoped to change a bit here and there in the html code but...
  8. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    :lol: I'll link each page of the home page right here so you can see what I'm talking about.

    Navigation piece: http://www.naturheilpraxis-zehnpfund.de/nav1lks.htm
    Title bar piece: http://www.naturheilpraxis-zehnpfund.de/top.htm
    Body piece: http://www.naturheilpraxis-zehnpfund.de/naturheil.htm
    I-have-no-idea-WTF-this-is piece: http://www.naturheilpraxis-zehnpfund.de/randlinks.htm

    So Google would index EACH of those pages separately, and present say, the body piece by itself. But it means nothing without the navigation page, see? There's no contact info, no context, nothing. Well, granted I can't read German but I see nothing that resembles contact information. :lol:

    Yeah you'd basically have to rewrite it from the ground up. It'll cost some money, and REALLY good designers (like the agency I linked to) obviously don't come cheap, but I'm sure you'd find someone on Elance or somewhere who will be somewhat versed in SEO and CSS to improve it by a great deal.

    ETA: Not only did they use frames but the body piece is laid out in a (*puke*) table. :yikes: I just updated a site that was originally laid out in a table - I knew the designer (a friend who didn't have time to update it anymore) and she was like, "I know, I know. :shuffle: I haven't updated the design in 10 years!" :lol:

    I think by now Google much prefers things that are coded with the content in mind. The HTML tags mean something, and with the newest version of HTML, semantics will become more important than ever. Using tables tells Google that whatever is inside isn't important because it's just tabular data. :shuffle:
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  9. Hedwig

    Hedwig WoolSilk Fanatic

    Thanks a lot, Anita. That makes much more sense now.

    Rewritting it from ground up, gulp. Well, I can give it a shot and start just using it on my computer to test it out.
    I know she hasn't got the money to get a new designer that is why I offered to have a look and see what I can do.

    So, if you have any tips how to start doing that with the newest google-friendly features I would be very happy!

    And additionally I will start and link and comment like crazy. :)
  10. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Again, I'd definitely start with Yelp before going too crazy with anything else. :lol: Many restaurant webpages still use very SEO-unfriendly Flash and it seems to work out for them..

    My first "real" website contained 500 pages, this one will be a piece of cake. :lol:

    Well um, the most general thing is to separate content from visuals. It's increasingly important that you use a headline tag for an actual headline (ex: the content of the h1 tag is SUPER important, since it's presumed to be the page's title), a paragraph tag with actual content in it, etc.

    None of that "font-color:black" stuff in the HTML itself, since that's not content. You denote all of the visual aspects in the CSS, and I imagine the biggest hassle/adventure :D for you will be learning CSS and how to harness its power. You can do really REALLY awesome things with CSS. Case in point, every design featured in http://csszengarden.com/ has the exact same HTML code, it's just that people change the CSS and that's how it can look so different in every one.

    Really, the way I learned was by clicking "View source" of any page I thought was interesting and seeing how it was built. It's laid out bare in front of everybody, there's nothing secret about how any website is made at all. If you want to find out how they do it, it's very easy. Unless you're Google and you delete all the spaces in the code, then it's just a pain in the ass to read. :lol: And of course you have to have the patience to figure out what line of code corresponds to what.

    If you use Firefox, I highly recommend the Firebug extension. Once you have it installed, you can right-click on anything on a page you find interesting and "Inspect element." It will show you the line of HTML it sits on and the CSS it uses. Most importantly, you can even change stuff in the code in Firebug and the browser will update it in real time for you. It is a lifesaver. :rollin:

    But if learning on the fly in general is intimidating and you'd prefer tutorials, http://www.w3schools.com/ is a good place to start. You only need HTML (I'd recommend sticking to 4.01 for the older browsers) and CSS to get a simple site underway.
  11. millyskate

    millyskate Well-Known Member

    Hedwig, for some reason I've always had trouble keeping my websites *down* on google. I haven't used them for business purposes yet, and my stuff is all over the net (sometimes too much). I find that by using famous/simple site-builders, and putting titles in for each blog entry, things shoot up to the top of google in a couple of weeks.
    I would advise having a blog updated once a month, with the word "acupuncture" and the town where your sister practices in the title each time. Build the blog on blogspot or wordpress, and link back to the website.
  12. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Yup, Google is also making it even more important that the newest/most relevant stuff pops up first. Not everyone is made out for blogging, and it's a lot of work, but if your sister really likes to talk about acupuncture and holistic medicine in general, it'd be a great way to position herself as an expert. And make her pages go up on Google. :lol:
  13. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    I was referring to the internal page description, not the words displayed to the viewer.

    For example, this FSU page has this metadata:
    keywords figure skating, ice skating, skating, skating forum, olympics, nationals, gold medal
    description A figure skating forum covering ice skating and the olympics

    Part of the search algorithm deals with how closely the description and keywords match the actual content. Aligning them may make a site rank higher in a search.

    And I agree 100% about ditching frames. Not only do they make the site hard to index, they make the pages difficult to print.
  14. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    I think you just have to re-write the home page. That's the one you want Google to be able to find.

    I've never had any trouble getting my pages to come up in Google and I just make simple sites that are clearly laid out and use a lot of text for headlines and navigation instead of fancy images. I bet if you re-wrote the home page to be one html page with no frames, that her site would shoot up to the top of the page in Google when you entered her name or even just did a generic search for an acupuncturist in her town.