Say No To Template Websites

keep-calm-and-just-say-noToday’s article comes from my “what in the heck were they thinking file”. Being a passionate champion for small businesses, it makes me furious when I see large companies offering website design services with the inferred idea that it will generate tons of traffic. Here is an example what I mean.


I recently met with a potentially new client about doing some search engine optimization (SEO) on their local Tucson business website. They had paid a large company whose name you would know if I mentioned it, to create their website. In addition, they also paid them for a monthly SEO package designed to improve their search rankings. What prompted their call was the fact that they were NOWHERE to be found in a search for a keyword phrase that had very little competition. As I reviewed the site, I noticed several things. First of all, the site was built using the company’s website builder program, which the business owners could have done themselves.  I would have assumed an “expert” paid to build the site could have used something more sophisticated than a template builder program.


The second thing that stood out was the first occurrence of any of their keyword phrases in the HTML code. The homepage had about 250 lines of code and the first time any of their content appeared was on line 207. Google looks at that and says, “if we have to crawl three fourths of the way through this site before finding what it’s about, then it’s not a “real” site that we should consider.”  Which means there’s a pretty good chance this site will never show up in any search.


The third thing I found as I looked at the HTML code for the images was they were missing keyword tags, which is a very basic element of SEO.  Now that would be understandable if the customer had built it themselves, but to have paid extra for the “experts” SEO package is ridiculous. It’s almost like stealing.

Being a small business owner, I absolutely understand the budget constraints and the need to create a web presence as inexpensively as possible. The prospects of a “free” or next to nothing priced website is very attractive. And that’s fine for a business that needs a portfolio type of site that they will hand to prospective customers. But if lead generation and getting found in the search engines is an important consideration, these sites won’t do.

There are alternatives that are affordable. WordPress is a perfect example of an easy to use, but very search engine friendly website builder program. It’s available on most of the large hosting companies for free and there are hundreds of templates to choose from to create a nice layout.


So before you get suckered into the commercials that are rampant today, stopped and analyze what you really want your website to accomplish. Then interview several website designers to see what your options are. Should you decide to go with WordPress, my Ninja Marketing Dojo has a complete tutorial on how to use WordPress.


Realize that the return on a zero investment is still likely to be zero, whereas investing a little money in a good website can easily pay for itself with just a few new customers.


Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo. The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.


Is SEO Dead?

For the last 5 or more years, I couldn’t pick up a newsletter or ezine without finding an article about search engine optimization.  That is, until now.

Ten years ago, we focused on adding meta tags to our websites to get them ranked.   Five years ago, it was about linking strategies.  Then content became king.  And with each change, SEO specialists like myself adapted.  So how to you drive traffic to your site today?

The evolution of search today has taken on a real time emphasis.  Looking for the news? Today the news finds you.   Of course, you want the latest information on whatever you are searching for.  Nothing is more frustrating than going to a website and finding information from 2006.  Even if it’s still pertinent, chances are you will go on to a more current site.

Real search or live search focuses on delivering the most recent information.  And that information is frequently not from a website.  The most recent information is more likely a blog post or even a Twitter tweet.  Yes, I said a Twitter tweet.  Here’s a good example:

A Google search for “Iceland Volcano” resulted in a section for Latest News – that contains a live feed changing every few seconds.  The listing below shows results from just minutes before.

Twitter Results in Google

Twitter Results in Google

Directly below the Latest News is a section for Video results that displays YouTube videos of the Iceland Volcano.  What every happened to the Google we all knew that took 90 days to get your site found?

Video Results - YouTube

Video Results - YouTube

So should you abandon your website for a blog, Twitter account and YouTube channel?  Not yet.  I look at the social media like a big funnel.  Twitter, Facebook and YouTube should be funneling people to your blog and your blog should be funneling people to your website, where browsers can find out details about you and your business and hopefully take action (but that’s another topic).

Another reason you can’t abandon search engine optimization (SEO) and your website is the permanency of social media.  You might be ranking well with your current article, post, tweet or video, but as more recent media are found, yours will either drop in ranking or disappear all together.  So you website is the anchor. A well designed, search engine optimized website should remain fairly stable (even in competitive keywords.)  For example, search for “Tucson Interior Design” in Google.  Of the top 4 results, 3 of the sites are ones that were optimized by several years ago.  With little or no changes, these sites have maintained their top ranking consistently.

So for now, SEO is still alive and kicking.  But today, you there are more pieces of the online marketing puzzle to put together.

Gary Wagnon and specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.


You Don’t Need A Website … UNLESS

You Don't Need A Website UNLESS...

You Don't Need A Website UNLESS...

Wait, did I just read that right, you’re asking?  A website designer saying you don’t need a website – something must be wrong.

Well, there are cases where a website is a waste of money.  First of all, if the goal of having a website is just to check off the appropriate box on your business plan, you don’t need one.

You don’t need a website just because your brother in law, the unemployed college drop out says so.

You don’t need a website if you think a website is the new yellow pages and everybody looks there.

The bottom line is, you don’t need a website if you not committed to making it the important marketing vehicle it should be.  So where do you start?

During the last 10 years, I have seen the evolution of websites, from simple 3 page sites with a waving cactus graphic, to multi-media sites with intricate flash graphics, to the mobile web we see on our phones.  Search engine optimization has been the buzz word for the last several years.  And it remains a critical element of your website.

But in today’s internet landscape, SEO is only a piece of the puzzle.  Does your website content call browsers to take action?  How are you building your brand?  Are you the expert in your industry?

In the coming blog posts, I will discuss online marketing and how to create a comprehensive program to get maximum exposure.

Gary Wagnon and specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.


Field Of Dreams Revisited

If You Build It Will They Come?

If You Build It Will They Come?

You have probably heard me use the analogy that the web is not the “Field of Dreams,” where if you build it they will come. For the last few years, we have focused on creating web sites using the latest search engine optimization techniques to help our sites reach prominent search engine ranking.

With 63% of all consumers going to the web before they make a decision on any product or service, being found is critical. But the bigger question is, with an abundance of competition in almost every category, why would a consumer choose your site over any other site?

Once it was important that you just have a web presence. If it looked good, was easy to navigate and loaded quickly, it stood a good chance for success. Today, things are quite different. Claiming you have the best prices/best quality/best customer service doesn’t cut it. Every other site says the same thing. Hoo Hum! Consumers aren’t buying that any longer.

What does your site offer? Is there a compelling offer or call to action? Do you clearly explain what you do? Do you offer delivery? Do you service your entire area or only selected parts?

Want your site to stand out? Add a video. If your site has a video that welcomes people to your site, or explains what you do, would that separate you from your competition? Do you have an email newsletter consumers can subscribe to? How about a Podcast to personally tell new visitors what you do?

Does the content of your site stand out? So many of us have trouble writing about our own business. Try having a friend or even good customer write your info. Better still, hire a professional to write the copy for your website. (I do have a couple of good sources if you need help.)

It’s time to revisit your website with an eye to making a statement that lifts your site above the rest.

If you build it, and they come, will they find any reason to take action?  That’s the question. specializes in website design, search engine optimization, search engine marketing and social media marketing.

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