Search Engine Optimization SEO in Amarillo, Texas
Larry Gowdy - Website Designer
About Search Engine Optimization
Updated November 30, 2017
Basic SEO: $60.00 + tax per month (1 hour per month of SEO updates) — $50.00 per hour if 6 months of SEO are prepaid.
SEO Report on an existing website: $120.00 + tax prepaid. For individuals who want to do their own updates, the report gives an in-depth explanation of what the site needs for improved search engine ranking. ...more information
Full Service SEO: for businesses that are competing for high search engine ranks and want their site to easily be found on search engines and/or social media, as well as to be targeted to desired audiences. Prices begin at $500.00 + tax per month (10+ hours a month, with the first month prepaid.) The SEO can include page updates, content writing, and enhanced linking. (Note: My content writing is usually drawn from having firsthand experience with the topics of electronics, security, computers, software, industrial equipment, mechanicals, philosophies, sciences, etc.. The firsthand experience enables my content to be unique and compatible with the site's audience. Examples of my graphics and blurb content writing can be viewed at Valve Automation.
Example of SEO Effectiveness
The graphic below is a screenshot of a page from one of my customers' websites (Valve Automation Solutions) The interesting item about this website is that in the past it had never achieved a search engine ranking beyond that of being findable on search engines if the company's name was typed in as the keyword. The site lay hidden for years until I was hired to update the layout and apply a bit of SEO. The site then quickly gained the number one spots for local searches, plus with a little time and no additional SEO work the site earned the national #4 spot on Google® for the company's preferred keywords. When we later updated the site further with additional organic SEO, the site's rank climbed to the #3 and #4 spots (the website with the #1 and #2 ranks are the manufacturer's own website). The customer's site later earned the #1 ranking on Bing® and Yahoo® without additional SEO, and at a cost to the customer that was relatively very little.
There are still a lot of improvements that we could make, and we could establish additional keywords on all search engines, but we have already made a good start, one that is solid and will serve to keep the site well-recognized for years without incurring additional costs to the customer. It has been fun to watch the site improve its rankings against competitors, and as of the latest update of this page, the customer's other pages are now in the top two to three for almost all of their keywords (the manufacturers' sites are still the only sites with higher rankings).
This type of work gives me a great sense of accomplishment, that I can take an unproductive website and turn it around to become both useful and profitable for the customer. I am never satisfied until after a site has exceeded the customer's expectations.
Another Example of Effective Search Engine Optimization
The Google screen-capture graphic to the right has a circle around one of my websites (the graphic will be shown again below at a larger size), and the circled ad on the right side of the graphic is another website of mine. Both of the websites were built with similar layouts, similar wording, and both sites sold the same product. The important thing to know is that the #1 ranked website received about ten times more sales than the advertised website. Search engine placement can be extremely important for a website.
I continually experiment with my websites to determine what works and what does not work. In past years — under vague generic keywords — my main web design site was ranked #6 on Bing®, but it dropped to #12 after I made a minor change, and it then climbed back up to #3 when I changed the site again. At present the site is back to #1 on Bing for the same keywords, and still #1 for the primary keywords. Earning a top-ten ranking on search engines is both difficult and rewarding.
Websites that are not in the top-five on search engines are likely missing about 90% or more of all visitors. If a website is not in the top twenty on search engines, then it is likely missing well over 99% of all potential visitors. A high ranked website can easily increase sales by ten to over one-hundred times as compared to a low ranked site. The money spent on search engine optimization can very easily pay for itself within months or sometimes even weeks.
Why Search Engines Exist
As most all Internet users already know, when an Internet user wants to find a product similar to the one that your company sells, the individual types the product name into a search engine and has the search engine find companies that advertise the product. When this page was first created in 2008, there were reportedly about 160 million websites with about 9 billion web pages on the Internet. As of March 2016 it was estimated that there were approximately 250 million websites and 4.6 billion web pages. As of November 30, 2017 it is estimated that there are over a billion websites, about 75% of which are parked domains and not live websites. No one knows for sure how many websites and webpages actually exist, but either way it is a huge number. It is very unlikely that a new customer might find your website without a search engine. Businesses have no choice but to rely on search engines to make the company's website findable.
An interesting perspective is that with there being around 7.6 billion humans on earth, that's only about 30 websites per person. Since about half of all humans are on the Internet, then about 1 Internet user in 15 has a website, and over 99% of those websites may only be seen by the owner and friends.
In recent years, some individuals have voiced an opinion that search engines are obsolete, and the individuals believe that the better choice is to promote one's website on social media. I have not personally seen a website receive more traffic from social media than from search engines and dedicated links, but I assume that it might be possible if the websites are for social purposes and only want the maximum number of visitors while not necessarily aiming for a maximum number of customers (the sites try to make money with ads, while the sites offer no real value to the visitors). There are some advantages with social media, but businesses with products and services still need search engines for the bulk of new online customers.
Why a Company Needs a High Search Engine Ranking
The primary purpose of a business website is to advertise a business online. Advertising a business — obviously — is for the purpose of drawing new customers and/or keeping existing customers informed of your company's services. When searching for a product or service, Internet users typically click on the top links given by search engines. The company that has the highest ranked websites will receive the most visitors. It is good business sense to have one's own website ranked higher than the competitors' websites, but there are times when a #1 ranked spot is not desirable, and I explain the reasons to my customers.
How to Test a Website
Use a search engine to search for the name of the product or service that your company sells. If your business is for customers in your region, type in the product name and your city. Is your website listed in the top 10? Top 20? Top 100? Most Internet users will not search beyond the second page of a search engine. If your website is not listed in the top 20 of a search engine, then the site will likely receive very little traffic, if any.
It is also important to make searches from a computer that has had its cookies deleted. Search engines sometimes rank a site high if your cookies show that you have visited to the site often, which can be misleading when judging how well your website is ranked. Search engines also store your IP address, search history, and sizable quantities of other personal information to be used for choosing the search results that you see on your screen. There are many, many variables that influence search engine rankings for each person.
Most Common Search Engine Mistakes
The top five mistakes that business owners frequently make are (1) the business owners believe that potential customers know that the business exists, (2) the business owners believe that Internet users will magically know the business owner's domain name, (3) the business owners believe that merely having a website will somehow make the site findable by search engines, (4) the business owners believe that Internet users will spend up to an hour or more searching for a website that the users do not know exists, and (5) the business owners do not believe that having a website is important.
A good example of search engine effectiveness is that here in Amarillo there are four different businesses competing for the same customers, and the company that has the most employees is the only one that has a website findable on search engines. The other businesses did pay an advertising company to list the business names on the Internet, but the listings are useless because potential customers do not know the companies' names nor the products that the companies sell. It is common for a company to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of income due to the company not wanting to invest a few hundred dollars into a website designed for search engine optimization.
Another good example — as explained previously — is of a customer who had a few different website designers build the customer's website, and yet after several years the website still could not be found by any search engine without using the customer's name for the keywords. After I rebuilt the website the customer was ranked #3 within a month (second only behind the manufacturer's site that held the top two spots), and a few months later the customer earned the #1 spot where it remains today. The question here is to ask how much money the customer might have lost by not having a search engine optimized website.
In recent years I have run across numerous websites that are hosted by a large well-known global corporation. The hosting service purposefully codes their customers' websites to be anti-search engine friendly (literally blind to search engines), and then the corporation tries to sell the customers additional SEO at a huge fee to fix the problems that the corporation purposefully added. Another hosting service purposefully blocks Google from searching the websites, which of course results in Google not indexing the site at all. There are countless similar examples of how business owners made the mistake of assuming that all hosting services are ethical.
As of 2008, the top three search engines are Google®, Yahoo®, and MSN®. Popularity rates Google at about 50%, Yahoo at about 25%, and MSN at about 10%. Since roughly 75% of all Internet users use Google and Yahoo, then it is very important for the customer's website to be found on both search engines. It appears that MSN has recently been experimenting with its search engine by providing a variety of links that Google and Yahoo might not list. MSN is a good search engine that is steadily improving, and it is important for a website to be found on MSN as well, but the main emphasis should be aimed at achieving high rankings on Google and Yahoo first, and then later do the work to build MSN ranking.
Update 07-06-2010: This page was originally created about two years ago, and since that time the changes that we were witnessing in MSN are now completed in MSN's Bing®.
Update 02-21-2013: Bing is now well-established and growing fast. If Bing retains its quality of results, then we can expect Bing to become the leading search engine within a couple of years.
Update 03-18-2016: Bing is now as important as Google, and often more important for specific types of websites.
Update January 01, 2017: Bing is now far superior than Google for quality search results, and Yahoo too uses Bing's results, but Yahoo's results are sometimes different than what is shown on Bing. DuckDuckGo also claims to use Bing results, but DDG's search results are often extraordinarily bad, and appear to perhaps not always be taken from Bing's search results at all. Bing is suffering from growing pains, but at present it is still the best search engine available online. Google, however, appears to be deteriorating rather rapidly, and if Google's plans for future changes are indeed implemented, then Google may soon self-destruct its search engine.
Update: November 29, 2017: DuckDuckGo's results appear to have been tamed by more closely following Bing's results (I personally prefer DDG because it offers a dark theme that is easy on the eyes). As a general rule of thumb, Bing's search results are around 95% superior to Google's results for the topics that I have searched. The StartPage® - IXQuick® search engine has several advantages of user themes and a virtual network, but it uses Google results, which are often rather low of quality for the topics I search. It is now rare for me to have a need to use Google (I probably do not use Google more than maybe once a year now except to see how a customer's website is ranked). There are several other important variables between Bing and Google, but the variables are insider knowledge that are used for my cumstomers' websites.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Search Engine Internet Marketing Services
Major search engines sell advertising by charging the customer each time a user clicks on the customer's advertisement. As of 2008, a normal low cost was about ten cents per click. In highly competitive markets a customer can bid on how much the customer will pay per click. The average cost of Pay Per Click (PPC) has steadily increased each year, to where the average at the end of 2016 was around $2.00 on Google Adwords, with many advertisers paying well over $5.00 per click, and some advertisers are now paying over $50.00 per click. PPC might be a good choice for an individual whose business is new to the Internet and needs immediate exposure, and it is true that PPC often helps to promote and increase a website's search engine ranking simply because the website gets more visitors, but a properly designed website will achieve a high ranking on its own without the expense of PPC, although usually at a slower pace. An un-optimized website might achieve a higher rank while paying for PPC, but then fall quickly when the advertising stops. It is far more economical to pay for a search engine optimized website that will retain its high ranking rather than to continue paying hundreds or thousands of dollars each month for PPC. When useful for the customer, I can manage and guide search engine promotion through PPC.
Search Engine Optimization Services (Optimisation for my European friends)
There are several different methods of optimization. Some optimization methods work, and some do not work. The best and only long-term solution is to first build a search engine optimized website. I design and program all of my websites to achieve high search engine rankings. I can also optimize a customer's current website without unduly changing the website's appearances.
As of 2016, one major shift of SEO is the increasing popularity of websites that use the WordPress® content management system (CMS) software. CMSes have always been notorious for security and SEO weaknesses, but new SEO plugins are now available for WordPress that do appear to help to improve search engine rankings. The plugins basically just do what I have always commonly done for my customers who use CMSes, and so, no new SEO magic there. Nevertheless, CMSes are still not as SEO effective as hand-coded websites, and regardless of search engine rankings, using a CMS still poses serious security and stability problems that cannot be fixed.
Search Engine Submission Service
In past years it was usually useful to submit a new website to search engines, but today there are better methods without running the risk of a search engine rejecting the website. My search engine optimization service places the customer's website in the best position for being accepted by search engines, and I then guide the rankings one step at a time.
Improve High Search Engine Ranking and Positioning
There is much more to improving a website's ranking than merely adding keywords, search engine advertising, and submitting to search engines. As previously mentioned, my main web design page dropped six spots within a couple weeks after I made a small change to the website. I did not measurably change the wording, nor the meta tags, nor anything SEO related that would be easily noticed, but the small change made a large difference in rankings. It is by my continual experimenting with my own websites that I have been able to best judge what will likely work best for a customer's website. My techniques are confidential, but I know that the techniques work because all of my optimized websites have pages in the top ten listings of major search engines. It is not uncommon for one of my new websites to reach the top five within one week. Some of my sites were regionally ranked #1 within one week, and retained the ranking. I am confident that I can earn my customer's website a top-ten listing.
Why This Site May Not Be In The Top Ten :
At present there is no need to have this page in the top-ten listings. As odd as it may appear, this web page has not yet received optimization. While my customers' optimized websites are in the top ten on all major search engines, my own website is used for experimentation and for illustrating to customers why some websites earn top listings and why some websites do not. Nevertheless, during a recent test of keywords it was found that this page was number one on a major search engine.
Update October 3, 2013: For the first eight months of this year I had been crazy-busy with customers' work throughout the panhandle, not permitting me time to tend to my own sites (four to five hours of sleep a night became the norm). September was spent catching up with personal chores, and now into October I once again have sufficient time to devote to my sites (and hopefully more sleep). In recent months some of my search engine rankings dropped for reasons beyond my control, but I view it as a good learning lesson and a challenge to regain what I had before. Stuff happens, it happens to us all — it is the Internet after all — but with a little attention we can make all things good again.
Update January 01, 2017: The extra time I thought I had in 2013 turned into three more years of remaining too busy to properly update my own sites, but I am happy with where my pages are ranked: #1 where I want it, and nowhere to be found where I want to be hidden. Aside from a few minor updates to the text and spacings, I think I will leave this page alone a while longer.
Costs vary widely depending on how the current site was built, where the site is hosted, and the site's history. Websites built with automatic website creation software usually have dozens to thousands of serious coding errors per page, and some of the errors cannot be fixed without rebuilding the website itself. Some hosts have very slow servers that consume hours of my time while I wait for simple uploads that only take seconds on better hosts, and so I have to charge extra for sites that use slow hosting services. If the site has had a bad history — especially one of having been black-listed for unethical practices — then effective SEO will not be easy, nor quick. I usually decline to accept work for sites with bad histories — bad histories are usually caused by bad site owners — but on occasion good people unknowingly make bad mistakes.
My normal charge for SEO is $180.00 for a basic homepage optimization, and $120.00 per additional page (four page minimum), or a flat rate of $60.00 per hour. Monthly SEO updates to a site are $50.00 per hour when prepaid for a minimum of six months (one or two hours a month of SEO can be very effective). Business customers who request five hours or more of monthly work on a website can be billed monthly after the first month being prepaid.
I also offer specialized enhancements including written copy and graphic advertisements that have proven to be very effective for SEO and company exposure. As a general rule of thumb, a good estimate of costs is around $500.00 for general optimization of a typical business website. Competing at the national level can sometimes require hundreds of hours per page depending on the topic and competition. With SEO you usually do get what you pay for and what you aim for. Some major companies spend over $100,000.00 a year on SEO alone, so a small business should not expect to be nationally competitive on a budget of just a few hundred dollars (although sometimes even my economy pages earn top rankings quickly).
Out of town customers: All work for out of town customers must be prepaid with a check or money order mailed to my post office box; I no longer accept online payments. The SEO report charge is $120.00 plus the state tax of $9.90. Please email me for additional information.
While it has been my experience that my optimized sites earn a good ranking on search engines, it has also been my experience that a few site owners have chosen to modify their sites further without first consulting me, which resulted in the SEO enhancements having no effect. Providing that the site's owner does not alter the site without first consulting me, I guarantee that the site will earn a top-ten keyword ranking on at least one major search engine. Different sites require different SEO methods for different keywords, and the time required to earn a top-ten ranking will be discussed with the site's owner. If the site should not earn a top-ten rank within the time allotted, the customer will be reimbursed 50% of the fee paid, or the customer can choose to have me completely rebuild the site with SEO techniques, whichever the customer prefers. To date I have never had to reimburse SEO fees (I have never had an optimized site not earn a top-ten rank), and while I do not believe that I will ever be asked for a refund, still I believe that it is important that my customers know that I stand behind my work.
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