Does Your Web Site Need A Shot Of Viagra?

 

Article by Robert Farris

One of the most common e-mails I receive from mortgage clients is, "We’ve paid xx dollars to submit our web site to over 500 search engines. Our company really expected to start getting more Internet business, but it hasn’t."

Well, just because a web site is submitted to the search engines doesn't mean it is going to be ranked or even found. We all know the computer adage, "Garbage in, garbage out." If you have a poorly designed site for search engine relevancy, the only thing you are doing is ensuring you will be listed near the bottom of 500+ search engines. There is no magic in submitting your site to the engines; the magic is in the way your web site is structurally designed.

Just "showing up" on the Internet with your corporate web site doesn't translate to being successful. A productive Internet presence requires several key elements. If any are missing or deficient you will hear the familiar cry… "I built it, but they didn't come."
Before we continue, let's review how people actually find your mortgage web site…

SEARCH ENGINES - THE 'YELLOW PAGES' OF THE INTERNET

Once an Internet design company has created your web site, your company needs a method to communicate what mortgage services you have to offer. This is where search engines come into play. Search engines are the yellow pages of the Internet (there are 8-10 major engines and 100’s of smaller engines). What makes search engines powerful is that Internet users can go to the search engine site, type in a few key words, and the search engine will produce a list of web pages that most closely match the keywords searched -- hopefully your web site. Internet statistics reveal that 86% of all their customers primarily find their site through the use of search engines (not banner ads or mortgage directories).

The great news is that the search engines are free to list your web site and they are free for the Internet viewers to use. The bad news is that there are now 100,000+ new web sites being submitted every month.

As you may conclude, achieving and retaining a highly ranked site is going to get more and more difficult as the Internet gets bigger and bigger; and it is going to become more valuable in having a top ranked site.

If you do a search on a major search engine like Infoseek, this engine will return the number of web pages that contain the key phrase which you have searched. For example, let’s take the keyword "mortgages." I checked Infoseek in May 1999 and found there were approximately 1.7 million pages with the word "mortgages". Every one of those mortgage companies thinks that their web site is so unique that they should at least be ranked in the top 30 in a search for "mortgages." Do the math: 30 1,700,000 yields a 0.00002 chance that your mortgage site would be listed in the top 30 if all web sites were equal. All web sites are not equal.

SO YOU WANT YOUR WEB SITE TO BE FOUND?

If you are going to pay a search engine "submission service" to do this for you. I have some bad news for you. It won't work in almost all cases!

The best analogy I can think of is a cake. You want a perfect cake but have never made one. Do you mix the flour with the icing first, do you add baking powder or baking soda, is it a tablespoon or teaspoon of salt? If you don't assemble the cake just right in the correct order, you won't get a cake. It is the same way when you submit an unoptimized web site. You severely limit your chance of being "edible" by the search engines.

Your company has probably paid a lot of money to have a professional Internet design company build your web site. You should also remember that while these companies are very good at designing a mortgage site, they are not usually experts in Internet marketing; in getting your web site highly ranked.

Your mortgage web site may have snazzy graphics, online calculators, even a nice online application form. But the number of visitors to your site isn't very high and sales are even worse. "What’s wrong?" you ask. After thinking about it for a while you simply conclude, "The Internet really doesn't work." After all, you have a great site -- why wouldn't people want to come?

Good analysis of problem - determining there is something wrong, but you have reached an incorrect conclusion. You need to have access to a few tips with regards to being found by the search engines -- the "structure" of your web page is more important than the visual aspect of your site.

THERE ARE TWO ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS TO EVERY WELL-DESIGNED WEB SITE

What many people don't realize is that there are two essential designs to every properly functioning web site. First the art and visual components which is the work that everybody sees when they visit your site. And second, the web structure and underlying layout that supports your visual design which allows your Internet visitors to find you via the search engines. This structural component is not entirely visible as much of it lies in the coding of your web sites language (HTML).

Your visual element is what makes your Internet presence unique. It is what conveys the image you are attempting to communicate to mortgage clients. You have spent a great deal of time and money creating the perfect site; but probably haven't spent much time ensuring your web page is found. Here is an important tip: every visual web design requires strong structural design features or to put more succinctly, you don't want to build a Corvette and then give it a Yugo engine.

HOW CAN YOUR COMPANY IMPROVE THEIR SEARCH ENGINE RANKING?

(GIVE IT MORE VIAGRA)

It is critical to properly optimize the "structure" of your web site for maximizing search engine relevancy. If you do not optimize your site, you will have that beautiful Corvette sitting there with the wrong motor, and worse yet, you don’t have any gas.

Now back to your mortgage site. Once created, your web site design company has probably "submitted your site to over 500 various search engines". These search engines then visit (spiders) your web site and indexes your information so it will "know" what your site is about.

Herein lies the problem. The search engines don't look at your beautiful web site design or the ways you have designed your online application forms. Mortgage customers look at these items, but search engines don't. Search engines look at the way your page is written, the underlying HTML source code used to create your page, and then apply an algorithm to rank your mortgage web page.

Search engines look at the "structure" of your site. This leads us back to…

THE STRUCTURAL DESIGN OF YOUR WEB SITE.

In order to get your web site found, you have to create a web site structure that the search engines can read and understand. There are several basic ways to accomplishing this: the title, meta tags, alt tags, meta description and HTML content. Each search engine has its own algorithm for analyzing these components. (Unfortunately, these algorithms are not only proprietary, they are changing constantly). The better you design the underlying "structure" the higher ranking your web site will receive when someone searches for your mortgage services. It is literally the difference being ranked #20 versus being ranked #20,000 on the search engine results page. You can imagine the revenue differential between a listing on the first page and a listing at #200.

Now you have the basic ingredients to work on your site, if you leave out one part, it can adversely impact your web site. It is somewhat like having the flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda sitting on a counter to make your cake. As you know, the trick is not necessarily having all the ingredients but knowing how to put them together... it is even more difficult when you don’t have all the ingredients to complete your recipe.

 

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Robert Farris is one of the co-founders of MortgagePromote.com, a leading mortgage lead generation provider to corporate clients. They currently provide thousands of highly targeted Internet mortgage leads on a nationwide basis. The company can be reached online at: www.www.MortgagePromote.com

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