Monthly Archives: March 2004

Invest in your business

It is a fact that it is possible to set up an Internet business for next to nothing (in fact, I started my first Internet business for about £50/$75!), but that doesn’t mean that you MUST start it with nothing.

People are always asking me where they can get free software or free this or that and if I can help then I will, but the free solution is not always the best one.  (In fact, it is rarely the best one!)

Think of it like this, if you wanted to start a new offline business – a retail store for example, you would expect to have to spend several thousand dollars/pounds setting things up.  Now with an Internet business, you could buy all of the software you need and pay for some top quality services to help your business and still have change from a few hundred dollars/pounds.

Don’t get me wrong, I am as guilty as everyone else – I don’t tend to dive in and purchase products without a good deal of research/testing etc.  However once I have made the investment, I nearly always say to myself, ‘I wish I had bought that sooner’.

Good quality products (software or services) will save you time and money and can deal with a huge amount of work on your behalf.  In comparison to starting a business in the offline world, starting a business on the Internet is incredibly affordable, even if you do have to spend a few hundred when you are starting out.

Remember, a small investment in your business can reap considerably larger rewards.

Is it worth chasing search engine rankings?

We all know that the best way of getting quality, free traffic is by achieving a first page ranking on one of the main search engines.  For the past few years, Google has held the position of being the most popular and probably the best search engine there is and as such, this is the search engine that everyone wants their site listed on.

Of course, I am no exception to this and my various websites hold numerous first page rankings on Google and have done for several years.

However, like so many things on the Internet, your search engine ranking is completely out of your control.  Sure, there are things you can do to make your website more ‘attractive’ to the search engines but if they decide that what was attractive yesterday is not attractive today, then you can be dropped like a stone.

Towards the end of last year I wrote about how Google had suddenly changed its algorithm (the formula that it uses to decide which order websites appear in within the search results) and caused me to lose countless top place rankings.  These were rankings that I had held for up to three years without change but suddenly they were gone.

Getting those rankings had taken many weeks of work and whilst it had been worthwhile, it wasn’t something that I fancied doing all over again just to find that Google changes its mind once more and puts me back at square one.

Therefore, I took the decision that I wasn’t going to make any changes to my websites and if Google no longer wanted to include them for some keywords, then so be it.

Following my decision, two things happened that are really the moral of this story…

Firstly, despite the loss of the above rankings, my sales were not affected in any noticeable way.

And secondly, this week, approximately three months after losing the rankings, most of them have come back AND I have gained some extra ones for competitive keywords that I have spent years trying to obtain but always without success!!

Remember, I didn’t make any changes to my website to ‘win back’ these positions.  It was simply down to Google amending their algorithm once again.

Naturally, I am very pleased that my website rankings on Google have been restored but I am even more pleased that I didn’t spend time back in December re-designing my sites to try and get Google to re-index them.  Had I done this, I could very well have gained the rankings back for three months and then lost them again this week.

Of course, just because my websites are back where they should be in the Google index (in my opinion at least!), it doesn’t mean that they will stay there.  There is every possibility that I could lose the rankings again tomorrow, next week, next month, next year…  It could go the other way and I might gain even more top positions – who knows?

Running an online business involves a huge amount of testing and this doesn’t just mean the small website owners such as myself and you folks.  It includes the big companies like Google too.  When Google (or any other search engine) changes their algorithm, they are simply testing to see if they can improve their service or increase revenue or whatever.

Do you really want to spend your time chasing a top position on Google or any other search engine when you have no control over when the factors that enable you to gain this position could be changed completely?

My advice is stick to the basic rules when designing a website – excellent content, quality inbound links etc and let the search engines sort themselves out.