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A tale of two websites

Although, as part of my business, I host around 12 domains for I am only involved in the content of two, a friend's website for his small car sales business near London and my own IT support business. Both websites are around 10 years old and the car sales website is updated around every two to three months, after constant nagging from me to list his new vehicles and removing the old stock.

It's question of do as I say not as I do, as my site is never touched. After initial top 6 rankings, I let things drift and now I am not listed in the first 200 which is as far as I have looked.

Meanwhile my pal's site enjoys second place only to www.autotrader.co.uk and 3 paid listings on a search for "car sales in wimbledon" (I changed the town but it's a major town in the London area).

"Car sales in wimbledon" and 3 other towns is only mentioned twice, once visible and the other in code only, I never do any SEO to promote it, as I haven't a clue what to do.

For my site the keywords "network support in Kent" and 3 other areas is mentioned 11 times, seven visible. I list around 16 keywords.

I wonder if I am being penalised for spamming my keywords or for being a lazy little sod and not updating my website?

Thanks for any advice.
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bill2013
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bill2013
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2 Solutions
 
it_saigeDeveloperCommented:
In these situations, there is more at play than just the simple keywords, robots and other such methods to raise your rank.  There is also relevance and popularity.

The search engines use your site information to assist in generating a list of links to present to people (usually geographically based).  After the search engine compiles this list, it then looks to see things such as last updated, link click frequency, etc.  Finally the search engine then presents a list of links to the person searching with the links that are most relevant (based on keywords), most popular (based on link click frequency) and most often updated (based on your site changes).

The older your site becomes and the less frequently it is updated, the lower your site can actually drop as the search engine could view your site stagnation as something that is less likely to be what the searcher is searching for.

-saige-
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
It's question of do as I say not as I do, as my site is never touched

Bingo. If your content is stale, Google will rank other sites with similar, fresher content over yours.

I wonder if I am being penalised for spamming my keywords or for being a lazy little sod and not updating my website?

Most likely the latter, but you can check for the former by registering the site with Google Webmaster Tools.  They will tell you if you are under a manual webspam penalty.  However, -saige-'s post is completely correct and on point.  The remedy for the situation would be to freshen up your site and commit to updating the content at least once a month, if not more frequently.  This is why you see so many small business sites running a blog as well as mirroring their social media posts to the site.  That helps to keep things fresh and up to date and Google rewards that behavior.
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bill2013Author Commented:
Thanks saige,

I suppose as much as I can do for now is regular updates. I will be adding more pages, but how much weight do they put on the home page in relationship to other pages - or is that a "how long is a piece of string" question?

I can starting tonight slowly begin regular visits to the site from the 20 or so IPs I have access to (all local). Or would only 20 IPs look like farming? If it could improve things I assume it would be better to search through Google, MSN, Yahoo for the site rather than type in the URL? Any value in this idea? I wouldn't be obvious in how I approach this.
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
I can starting tonight slowly begin regular visits to the site from the 20 or so IPs I have access to (all local). Or would only 20 IPs look like farming?

Don't do this.  Any attempt to trick Google by artificially inflating traffic or backlinks is risky and if it backfires you'll be out of the index altogether.

For a local business, the three best things you can do are:

1) Register your business via Google Places

2) Update your content and fix any SEO issues found during update (which begs the question: do you know what your issues are?)

3) Following on from #2, consider a redesign and relaunch of your site.  Google now gives more weight to responsive sites given the popularity of mobile devices and also prefers sites that run completely secure over SSL.  Just tweaking those things can help tremendously.

Stretch goals:

1) If you have social media for the business, commit to using it.  

2) If you don't have good follower counts, consider spending a few hundred quid on promoting your site via Twitter to get both clicks and followers.  

3) Keep content original and fresh on your site.

I will be adding more pages, but how much weight do they put on the home page in relationship to other pages

It depends more on how people get to your site.  Generally speaking, most sites have the greatest amount of traffic on their home page so Google will throw that page up before others.  So if you are adding new content as sub-pages, make sure you make references/announcements about it on the home page (e.g. a "news" section).  But if your sub-page is content-specific and keyword-rich, it's not unusual for Google to throw that page up in response to long-tail searches (e.g. "how to get X malware off your machine" tutorial).
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it_saigeDeveloperCommented:
As for the *weight* applied based on site updates.  It really depends on the search engine.  Most modern search engines, will really look at the site as a whole when ranking based on updates.  The individual pages will then get ranked according to relevance based on keywords.

I also agree completely with Jason's comments about artificially inflating your sites traffic.

-saige-
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bill2013Author Commented:
Thanks Jason and Saige once again, great, priceless advice from you both.

And thanks for stopping me trying to trick Google. I've seen clients penalised for being too clever (or rather their highly paid SEOs trying to be too clever.) They have gone from top 5 to nowhere is no time and taken ages to re-establish their sites.

What are typical SEO-issues and how can tell if I have them. Are these things like broken links?

Now to check on those Webmaster Tools and see what they say.
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
What are typical SEO-issues and how can tell if I have them. Are these things like broken links?

There's so many things.  I touched on a few already (responsive design, SSL) but there are hundreds more, roughly divided into two areas: technical and content.

Technical stuff are the "easy" fixes:

Broken links
Invalid HTML (use the W3 validator to test)
Javascript errors
Slow site load times
Mobile responsiveness
etc.

Content stuff is a little trickier and takes the form of questions:

Does each page in your site have a unique title that helps search engines and users know the content of the page?

Does each page in your site have a unique meta description that helps search engines and users know the content of the page?

Does each page have a good/unique page title placed in an <h1> tag

Is your navigation comprehensive?

Does your site navigation degrade well if javascript is not enabled?

Do you use tons of images on your site?

Do you use images to display text content instead of text (e.g. rollover buttons on menus)?

Are areas of your site duplicative in content with other areas?

Is all content on your site unique to you (not copy/pasted from other sites on the internet)

etc.
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bill2013Author Commented:
Thanks Jason, there goes the weekend!! Lots to learn.
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
Care to post a link?  I'd be happy to give your site a once-over from here...
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bill2013Author Commented:
Thanks Jason, but too many issues to deal with and need to keep a little anonymity (clients use EE and won't be too impressed with me), but happy to PM you a link when done a bit of tidying up.
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
Sure thing.  Click my name above any of the posts here and then send me a message with the address.
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bill2013Author Commented:
Thank you both for some great help
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it_saigeDeveloperCommented:
Not a problem.  Glad we could help.

-saige-
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