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is a website worth it?

Discussion in 'Digital Marketing' started by Up North, Nov 24, 2004.

  1. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,439

    i'll start off with the "save your money advice" in case you get bored of reading the rest: don't waste your money on "WE'LL GET YOU LISTED ON OVER 5,000 SEARCH ENGINES FOR XXX DOLLARS!!!!". all are scams. ALL OF THEM. they'll actually do your site more harm than good actually, as the engines will effectively black-ball you.

    now, my 2 cents on having a site...

    like any other marketing vehicle, it's worth it if it's done right. cutting corners can be extremely counter-productive. i've seen enough people on here post a "critique my site" that really should be just told to unplug their computer and throw it out the window. i can't recall a single site that i've critiqued that actually was designed for search engines. no TITLE tags that are useful, and no meta tags, which now are not very useful, but at least the majority of people should know of their existence.

    and just like any other marketing idea, you need to follow-up the money spent so far with more money. maintenance money, if you will. google and yahoo both offer keyword sponsorship programs. check those out, because that's the best way to be found.

    the key to websites driving business towards you is proper search engine management. if you put up a site that is not designed from step 1 to be search engine friendly, you're just throwing your money and time away.

    as for site visit stats, keep in mind that the bulk are from robots, most just trying to gather your email address for spam messages. take a look at the root country of origin for your visitors to get a better gauge.

    as for who's going to be looking for you, keep in mind that the majority of household decisions are made by women. look at your customer base and see if that holds true. if so, make the site a little more female friendly. if your customer base includes many white-collar people that are still actively working, guess what? they are not looking in the yellow pages. the majority of people looking for home services do it from their desk, on their employer's dime, and do it on the web. web savvy people now span several generations, so the paradigm shift has been going on for years. for mowing, i'll take a shot and say that if someone wants to find you on the web, they'll use their favorite engine and type "dayton AND mowing". if you have a site, you need to be focused around that sort of content. many of the sites i see are so graphic intensive, even to the point of having their text as a graphic image, that they will never, ever draw a search engine sniff. gotta have some meaningful, textual content or you can forget it.

    i'll let you know how it goes after year one in the lco business. my other businesses have always been greatly benefitted by having a site, so i'm curious to view the logs as i go and see what the true, relevant traffic is.

    .com strategist refugee
  2. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    I think gearing a site toward professionalism and presenting who you are is the primary goal.

    In about 4 to 8 years, I'm expecting to see the website numbers for my arborist and landscaper industry here jump from the 100 or so web sites that exist to probably upwards of 1000 websites once the designers, arborists, landscapers and lawn companies jump on board.

    At least 1/2 of them will be designing their websites reasonably well if the trend continues according to what is going on here now.

    What that means - in 6 years - is that 600 sites can be designed optimally for search engines, but not all 600 can reach the top.

    What that means is that the web sites which rank high now, probably can stay at the top with minor routine tweaking.

    But the hundreds of other sites - whether they reach the top - is about as reliable as a gamble, even with good web site design.

    That's why I believe in designing a site #1 to present who I am. Then #2 is search engine search ranking and display.

    In a way, iit's as if the web site is like a credential. It's like if someone says "what is your business phone number?" or "what's your license number". Now, so often, I hear "what's your web site address?"

    As TonyGreek said...the robots account for quite a few visits.

    On my site, 662 visits are recorded by robots.

    Now, for my site, the robots are a big group of visitors, but don't account for most of the visits. Today's counter shows 3014 visitors, but the other stat is 2522 UNIQUE VISITORS.
  3. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    Got cut off on the edit time limit...
    Here's the rest of the last post:

    Now, for my site, the robots are a big group of visitors, but don't account for most of the visits. Today's counter shows 3014 visitors, but the other stat is 2522 UNIQUE VISITORS.

    There were 17 different robots that came to my site - each unique. So I subtract 17 from 2522 and that means my site still had 2507 UNIQUE VISITORS that were not robots.

    The final tally needs to get carved down a bit for who is a real shopper from my area. Because some visits are from out of state or country. Then every web site gets visited by other professionals that want to see their competition.

    So from the 100 or so real people visitors I get to my site this time of year, I'd speculate that about 10 to 20 are real shoppers looking for a designer or arborist. And they finally contact owners of one of the various web sites they visited.
  4. frakilk

    frakilk LawnSite Member
    from Ireland
    Posts: 0

    I think a website is worth the investment but only if it is maintained in the correct manner.

    Just because you build a web site does not mean that overnight it will become very popular. The site needs to be optimized to be found by search engines amongst other types of marketing. I developed a portfolio, information site for my brother two months ago and have actively optimized for the search engines ever since. Ever day that goes by it is slowly climbing the rankings and I am confident that by this time next year it will have cornered our targeted market, giving my brother's business a real advantage over others in the same area.

    Also it sounds great when you mention to a potential client 'you can find all the details on our website'. Sounds professional right off the bat. If your site looks professional as well that is powerful.
  5. Carolina Cutter

    Carolina Cutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 987

  6. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,439

    merlin, the term "subjective" comes to mind when you say it's worth it when it's free.
  7. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    No, well worth it come to mind when you say free! Can it be better yes but it's free, put that on a flyer or a mailer and it won't hurt. Having a free web page that is.

  8. frakilk

    frakilk LawnSite Member
    from Ireland
    Posts: 0

    Before I moved my brother's site to www.gardenplansireland.com it used to be hosted at www.gardendesign.8m.com, a free hosting service. It was hosted there for about 2.5 years and I must admit it did get him some business but not a lot.

    Most people complained about the pop-ups. I guess pop-ups do not affect some people's judgement if the site looks professional.
  9. Up North

    Up North LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MN
    Posts: 1,063

    I have to agree with Mac. If I do this I can't put a ton of cash into it, but a free site if done decently could be okay...if done nicely. I don't want a site to just say "I have one". But nobody else (LCO"S) in the area has one and that may help bump me up a notch in some customers eyes. A free site may help me gauge how much use I'd get out of having a website. Will people in this area go to it and check out who we are, what we do, how we do, etc.

    I don't know, guess I better make up my mind soon as I have an offer from someone to set one up for me at no charge, just have to pay for domain and hosting, $3-5 a month.

    Merlin, I like your site but I do have to say if I was a customer I'd kind of wonder about the service I'd get. There are a couple pics with debris all over the driveway and sidewalk. And some of the lawns I don't think does your work justice. But you do have some pics that show excellant work which I assume is your normal procedure. I'd try to replace a few of those pics to better reflect the service you normally provide. And please don't take this the wrong way, I'm just trying to look at it from a customer prospective and help you enhance your site. It's simple which I like, seems like some get too complicated and have too much stuff all over.

  10. Carolina Cutter

    Carolina Cutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 987

    Well actually those are pics that I have taken recently. About half way through the job I thought "oh crap I forgot to take some before pics" so that is why some are messy. BUT....also, I am just setting up the site and had those pics to get it started. Trust me......they will be replaced next spring with the "good stuff".

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