SEO Strategy for a Struggling Site on a Limited Budget
by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
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Over the years we have answered many a phone call where a prospective
client is frustrated with the poor performance of their website(s).
Obviously the business profile for each website is unique, but
common to many of conversations is the following scenario that
we would like to share with you. For the purpose of this example
we will use a site owner by the name of Sam.
The question from Sam (the caller):
My site is 2 years old and well established online; it is well
indexed on the major search engines and has a couple rankings
here and there. Unfortunately after so many years of work on
the site the rankings and traffic for the website are still
not where I need them. I am just not sure if I should commit
my limited budget to reworking a website that has been so difficult
to promote; it is becoming a bigger money hole than my boat.
Should I continue to invest in my current website or try launching
another site with slightly different content and a new domain?”
Just to be sure I understand, I state a summarized version
of what I heard back to Sam:
So the site isn’t performing after years of work and you
have become disillusioned enough that you don’t want to
drop more money into it. As a result, you are close to launching
an entirely new one while leaving the other, older site as a
Now that Sam has confirmed that I understand his predicament
I weave my answer in the direction of a recommended course of
action – but I want to be sure he understands my reasons
for the path I recommend:
First of all it is vital to
remember that having multiple sites promoting the same service
and content can get you in hot water
with the major players such as Google, Yahoo and MSN; it is
spam, through and through. So, if you are going to go the
route of creating a new website you will have to be “all-in” and
301 (permanently redirect) all traffic from your old site’s
domain to your new one. Yes, that does mean you will have
to pull down the old site. This will also mean that, unless
are very careful you will find that many of your old pages
indexed by the search engines will be broken links.
The fact is that there are always reasons that a site is not
performing well and, in general, dividing your attentions to
another site is simply asking for another headache. After all,
who says you won’t make the same mistakes when designing
and promoting the new site if you don’t know what was
wrong with the older one?
Now I am going to provide you with a proven SEO strategy that
costs as little as a $1000
Fix your main website! There is no reason why your main site
cannot recover from the issues it is facing. These are the steps
I recommend you take to ensure that you invest your budget for
the best results. For all steps I have provided a minimum budget
to provide you with an idea where the budget is divided.
Discover the Problem. Cost $600 to $1200
We will try to unearth the problem by reviewing your site for
the most common offenders:
a) Spam: does your site currently utilize tactics that may
be causing ranking penalties?
b) Optimization: is your site properly optimized for your target
c) Design: is your site using design techniques that may be
limiting your ranking potential?
d) Content: does the site need more textual content or does
it need to be stated better?
e) Structure: could your site be structured in a more effective
f) Popularity: does Yahoo or Google see a healthy number of
relevant backlinks to your site?
Over 90% of the time we find fundamental issues that when corrected
will make all the difference in the world for your website.
This service would usually cost no more than $600 to $800 in
There are, however, occasions where we may have found some
concerns but nothing that seems to indicate the type of poor
results you are experiencing. In this situation we will need
a few more hours to conduct the following research which could
raise the cost to $1200:
g) Competition: how are your competitors attaining rankings?
money, do this yourself)
h) Compile a Plan: recommendations will be made based on the
The recommendations we provide you will be summarized at the
end of the document in three levels. The first will be a list
of the most important fixes to apply to your website for the
best effect; these will be noted no matter how intense or potentially
pricey they are. The second will be a list of the simplest fixes
that you can apply immediately, in order of importance. We will
also state the likely affect those changes will have in the
scheme of things. The third level will be the list of the more
technical and possibly costly fixes that you may need to prioritize
when money becomes available.
Implement Recommended Changes: Cost $390+
Now that you have a list of our recommendations it is up to
your skills and connections whether you can handle the implementation
on your own or you would like a designer/consultant to apply
them. If you decide only to apply the simplest fixes yourself
you may just get the advantage you need to increase your rankings
and turn your site around. Then the more advanced changes,
if there are any, can be accounted for when the funds become
Note that for as little as $65 per hour you can usually hire
a web design business to apply the changes. In my estimate the
majority of changes I have encountered would only take 6 hours
of work ($390) for a competent designer. Of course, that depends
entirely on the flexibility and technology of your website.
The Waiting Game
Now that your site has been updated you have to take a deep
breath and sit back while the search engines reindex your
site and process the updates. This is not necessarily a slow
process since monsters like Google have a voracious indexing
schedule but it can be. In any event, you will have to wait
as long as 6 weeks to see a measurable difference in rankings.
Can You Guarantee #1 Rankings?
I can certainly guarantee the quality of the work provided but
I am sorry Sam, since we do not control the search engines
we cannot guarantee rankings. The fact is that anyone who
guarantees ranking results is not only unethical but misrepresents
their abilities and Google
I can tell you, however, that it is very common for websites
that have undergone this process to experience dramatic increases
in rankings under targeted keywords as well as a wider array
of secondary rankings because the site is so well optimized.
If you have an SEO related question please send it over and
we will take a crack at it: email
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