Monday, April 25, 2011

You have a website, now what?

  If somebody spent only one minute per page, it would take 31 thousand years to visit all of them. To actually read their content, you better clear your schedule for the next six hundred thousand decades. This is by far the largest amount of information ever collected in human history. So how do you make sure your website stands out in this digital haystack?
You've heard about terms like page ranking, web presence and SEO (search engine optimization) and you know that if it doesn't show up in Google's first results page, it may as well not exist. You may even know you can pay for better position - which can be a costly proposition. (There's even a sub-industry with the sinister name of Black Hat SEO that promises fast results, but eventually will get your site banned from most search engines.)
   Our client,, faced this problem and they solved it beautifully. Their website was launched in March 2011, just before the FL legislative session started. A month later, a Google Search for "Florida lobby" returns 16.5 million results - and shows them in second place. That's ahead of the websites for the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists and the website of their main competitor. The only result above them is the website for the Florida Legislature itself. How where they able to attain this impressive result in such a short time? Turns out is not that much different that attracting attention in the real world. It takes old-fashioned elbow-grease in the form of relevant quality content, dedication and consistency. is, among other purposes, a valuable repository of information about Florida legislative issues, indexed by issue. We designed the website to be easy to read and navigate for the readers, and easy as well for their staff to update with a robust Content management system (CMS), an online tool that allows them to make real time changes to the content without the need of knowing website programming. We also used a clean layout on purpose, avoiding the use of techniques such as Flash which creates sites that are not easily indexed by search engines.
   Armed with this tool, they went to work and populated every section of the website with relevant content culled from news organizations and specialized sources such as the Legislature reporting service. The result is content that is organically rife with relevant keywords. All the content is linked back to the original source, creating a web of links that reverberates across websites. And they have been diligently consistent about finding and posting this content, not letting a day pass without updating the front page on most sections. At this point, you can probably find more in their website about what's happening in the state government than in any of the state's main newspapers.
   This collection of quality and relevant content is what's clients are looking for the site to provide, and the gateway for the premium issue-tracking service they offer. It's a huge time saver for the industry leaders who are interested in finding only the content that relates to their industry - and it's also what has given its robust web presence in a mere month.
   So the lesson is: there are no shortcuts or magic tricks in the web age. Be relevant and consistent, offer quality, always link, and be disciplined about adding and updating content. Then sit back and watch your page ranking shot to the top of the results.