How long do you work on a project? –David A.

Did anyone ask George Lucas how long filming “Star Wars” would take?

Did the Pope ever ask Michaelangelo how long the Sistine Chapel would take?How long will this take?

Okay, maybe those are bad comparisons. More accurately, it would be like asking a personal trainer how long it would take to get someone in shape. Are we talking about losing 25 lbs. to look good for your class reunion or long-term health that will improve your body, energy, and quality of life.

So I would ask you: What shape is your website in? Is it sitting around doing nothing or at least taking walks?

What’s your overall objective with your web page? Do you need a sprint for a short burst of attention or are you going the distance and working to increase traffic months from now?

What action do you want to come from your visits? How often do you want people to come visit and what do you want them to do once there?

To get back to the apologetically vague answer: it depends on the size of your site, your goals, and how proactive you want to be. I’ve worked with people for just a few hours and I have other projects that still need on-going, monthly support.

I like to view web analytics in terms of long term health–maybe you need some extra attention up front and then move to a few hours for monthly check-ups.

I have hidden several keywords in the code of my webpage. Shouldn’t I be up higher in the search engines by now? –Nathan L.

In a parallel universe where it is still 1999, yes.

Keywords open door for visitors
Keywords open doors for visitors

Search engines have become far more sophisticated since the early days. We can especially thank Google for this major change. Since they are now the most common search tool, and at the forefront of web analysis, what Google does most will follow. And Google says hiding a list of keywords in the same color as your background is a no-no. To see authentic results in a search engine, you must be using the correct words authentically. (See Google’s policy on this topic) Content is king.

(Side note: Years ago I remember starting to purchase vitamins online and at the bottom of the page was a giant block of emptiness. It seemed a little odd and, on a whim, I opened up the “view source.” There, at the bottom, was an enormous list of words that had absolutely nothing to do with the company, vitamins, or even health. The web master had simply found a list of the 100 most commonly-searched words which, of course, included a dozen pornographic words. As my son would say, “Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.”)

Now this leads us to the more interesting issue: what ARE my keywords?

To answer this, you absolutely must step out of your business brain and into the minds of your visitors. What do customers call your product or services? What are they looking for? What is another name for what you do or sell? You might be an attorney, but people search for lawyers. Your store sells adhesive tape, but my wife wants scrapbooking glue. The post office calls it postage, but I usually buy stamps. Once you have developed a comprehensive list of words and phrases that people use, work those into the actual text of your pages. Use them in the headlines, sub headlines, and picture captions. Don’t try to trick the search bots–beat them at their own game. Be sure to use Web Analytics to validate your keyword research and content.

There are many free tools and tutorials out there to help you understand SEO, keywords, page rankings, etc. I have added a dozen articles on this topic in my Chatter links. If you sell something, it is also a good idea to check out eBay. I know that sounds like an odd suggestion, but think about it: ordinary people sell their items on eBay and they are the best at describing ordinary things using ordinary language. Their listing titles pack in as much information as humanly possible in order to cover all of their bases.

I don’t sell anything. Why do I need Analytics? –Ellen G.

I don’t sell anything. Why do I need Analytics? http://bit.ly/ObjhY

That’s an interesting question. I guess the first thing that I ask you in return is why do you have a website at all? If you are using it to update the grandparents in Nova Scotia on Baby’s first steps and most recent tumble, then you really don’t need to analyze anything.

Help people see the light
Help people see the light

However, let’s say the blog that you’ve been writing for the last two years is generating some interest lately. Your friends keep forwarding the URL to their friends and, just like our favorite old Faberge commercial, they tell two friends, and so on and so on. Now you’re up to a few thousand subscribers who want to read your insights on kitchen gadgets! We’ve all heard stories about people who have turned their blogs into little money makers, but you need a bigger fan base to get the Magic Muffin Master people to advertise on your site. Good analytics will provide insights on how people found you, what they are reading, how often they visit, how long they stay, and how they leave. Then you can use all of that information to write new blogs, direct your attention to what your readers are interested in, and cater to their needs. Really, do you even know who your target audience is? I’ve worked with many business owners who believe they are attracting one type of customer and then we look at their demographics and find they’ve been wrong all along.

Newsweek tracks how many visitors go to their website and which articles are most read. This helps them understand what people are interested in and then they can follow up with more stories on those topics. Of course they want to sell more magazines. But when the site’s goal and the visitor needs intersect, a win/win situation is created and everybody benefits.

If you want more visitors to your site, just imagine that you are selling yourself–your ideas, insights, opinions, and unique information.