Our company receives about 30-40,000 visitors per month to its website. The vast majority of these, about 75% come from search engines. Our top ranking key word brings us about 450 visitors, which is about 1.75%! And that word is, you guessed it – the name of our website: timemaps. Pffft – according to Google we are only good for appearing near the top of the search engines for the name of our website. The rest of the search traffic comes from long tail results.
The next highest words that bring us traffic are “world history timeline“. This brings us 0.63% of our traffic; about 180 visitors. Using Googles Keyword Tool I can see that there about 27,000 monthly searches for these words and using Webmaster Tools I know that we have appeared 6,500 times in it’s results and have a click through rate of 3%. So we are near the bottom of the page, underneath the fold.
The problem I have with Google is that we easily have the best world history timeline on the internet. Surprise surprise, Wikipedia is number 1 and barely contains anything, rather it just directs peoples away to further content. There are a few wall charts you can buy in the other top slots – who will be undertaking highly targetted SEO work to ensure people find them; and there are some very old websites that contain list of dates and events – these will have many old websites (the older the better for Google) linking to them who have accumulated a strong page-rank over time.
We knew all this from the outset so we created a highly innovative product that provides a visual way of looking at world history. Since we set off on our journey 4 years ago, the web has changed significantly and people have stopped creating websites, and now more often contribute to others (web 2.0), or just curate the content of other sites (social bookmarking) . But none of this provides enough strong link content to individual websites to appear high in search terms.
OK, the obvious point I have to deal with here is that, maybe our website is just not good enough to make it go viral. But infact we have got significant traffic and every now and again someone adds us ta social book marking site such as StumbleUpon or Reddit and we get thousands more extra users. But the small number of actual links created from peoples own domains are is not enough to improve our position in the search engines. Our website IS awesome. We were invited to present our website to the National Council for Social Studies in the US due to how useful it is for education, and one other factor that makes me believe we have a good website is a story from my friend. He was in Thailand working as a teacher. While at a random beach party he overheard some people having a conversation about history and the name of our website occurred. He spoke to them to ask if he heard it correctly, and was told from this guy about how amazing our website is. We get comments like this all the time from all around the world.
CONTENT IS NOT KING ANYMORE!
Recently, an SEO company called me up to offer me a free report. After they had taken a look at the competitive landscape they ran a mile. They said it would take a year of constant sustained effort to begin to rank for the terms we are suitable for – they knew we couldn’t pay for that. What is the answer here, Google?
I know very well that some very inferior products to ours make 6 figure sums each year from adverts alone by ranking high for the search terms we want – one of these sites was even featured by Google as a success story. They plough in enough resources to maintain these positions, and should everything change, then with all this profit, they could innovate over the top of us.
In a nutshell, Google fails small businesses. More precisely, “search” is not a business strategy for small business as Google inhibits innovation with their current search ranking mechanisms. Google – who’s motto is “don’t be evil” – is really, actually, not that good!