I got a call on my mobile phone about a week ago.
Some guy from Manchester was offering his services as a search engine optimiser. I felt for him, as he was clearly working hard to get his business off the ground. But I'm trying to do as much as I can for myself, to keep the costs down, to expand my knowlegde and experience into new areas, and because I'm a stubborn bugger. So I politely declined his offer.
However, now that I have a site I'm happy with, I need to get my ratings up, and as ever, I want to do it without spending money.
I asked for advice on some discussion boards, and was pointed in the direction of certain software, that I then "acquired". Normally this software costs a couple of hundred quid. A few years ago, I wouldn't have felt the slightest twinge of guilt about such acquisitions. These days I'm more aware that somebody somewhere is not getting what they should be entitled to.
I'm also aware that in saying "Come and have driving lessons with Paul Sharp", I'm also saying "Don't give your money to Joe Bloggs" despite Joe Bloggs also needing to make a living. Nature of the beast of course. Everybody has to compete for everything. Ah well. Come the glorious day...
Anyway, this SEO stuff is stretching me. I understand the basic idea: Put the right keywords into your site and get other sites to link to it. There's other stuff too.
Then submit site to search engines. Said search engines then say "OK. Lots of lovely relevent stuff here. Put it up near the top..."
There are things that don't work properly with the software I got but I've used it to look at the html of other local driving school websites, the ones that show up at the top of the listings, and put a lot of the same meta tags into my headers.
I've also used it to look at the code of my site and check it for errors. It found quite a few. It also told me exactly where and what they are, so I should be able to fix most of them.
The text contained within my webpages is also important. I ran a sort of scan that simulates what a google spider does. It told me this:
Total web page size: 10,632 bytes
Visible text size: 612 bytes
Total HTML size: 10,020 bytes
Visible text to web page size ratio: 5.76% (the more the better)
Number of images: 6
Context is important of course. It's saying the more the better, but this is a little worrying. I wanted to keep it all simple and clear, not windy and verbose. A hangover from the days of dial up perhaps, but to me it makes sense to optimise and minimalise.
The same spider simulator can also be used on other sites. Generally the ratio seems to be about 15-20%. All the pages I've looked at contain far more links than mine does.
I've spotted some interesting techniques. For example, one highly ranked page had a list of almost every town on Wirral. Each link had it's own seperate page. Karen Jones does lessons in Wallasey, and the rest of Wirral. Are you looking for driving lessons in Wallasey? Call her on 012345678. Karen Jones does lessons in Greasby and the rest of Wirral. Are you looking for driving lessons in Greasby? Call her on 012345678. Etc.
I think that's a really good idea. I only need to do one page, then use it as a template, and from there, fill my index page with intra-site links.
So... Work to be done still. Some of this is interesting. Some of it is just really boring and repetitive, and some of it is frustrating and mentally taxing.