A website as quiet as a ghost town can’t be good for companies looking to expand their customer base.

So business people looking to draw productive hits often turn to upgrades they hope will push them higher on search-engine lists.

Called search engine optimization, or SEO, the procedure can involve considerable revamping of a website. “Google is what the Yellow Pages used to be,” said Allan Ross, CEO of A.J. Ross Advertising, Marketing and Design in Chester. “If you do this the right way, your cold calling will be cut in half.”

Josh Sommers, president of Focus Media in Goshen, agrees.

“The first place that people will look for you is on the Internet,” Sommers said. “It’s such a low-hanging fruit to have a relevant website to boost your revenue.”

While there are many search engines, Google maintains a comfortable hold on web traffic, with an estimated 900 million unique monthly visitors as of May 1, according to the web-business site eBizMBA. The No. 2 and 3 search engines, Bing and Yahoo!, have an estimated 165 million and 160 million unique visitors, respectively.


Beware ‘banner blindness’

Businesses can pay to get to the shaded head of a search list, or in a similarly shaded column to the right of the list. But that may not be a great idea, because many users typically skip over those entries. “It’s called banner blindness,” says Carlos Vega, creative director at A.J. Ross. “People don’t trust it because it’s paying to be there.”

Vega and Sommers are keen on keeping website content relevant and fresh.

“If it stays static and never changes, you’re not likely to rank high in the search engine rankings,” Sommers said. “There should be things on the site that are constantly changing so there’s constantly new content.”

Blogs can be a way to do this. So can links to other sites. Search engines are tuned more toward fresh content these days than they are to keywords on a site.

“If it just sits there,” Vega said of unchanging content, “Google will say it’s old news.”

And to succeed, website technology has to stay up to date and grow its accessibility to phones and tablets.

User-friendliness also comes into play. Photos and videos can quickly transmit information.

“People don’t want to read,” Vega said.

As an example, Sommers told of a client, a local law firm, that this month launched a YouTube channel with a series of videos focusing on legal issues. “There are fewer (traditional) media outlets to pitch stories to,” Sommers said, “so you have to create new channels to reach users.”