Survival of the fittest website

If you had to take a look at the top website listings in Google, Yahoo and MSN, on average its the ‘fittest’ that appear at the top. When someone refers to fitness you normally think of gym, regular exercise, health food, well toned bodies, etc. Having a well toned body and being fit normally involves time, energy and a lot of hard work, and the same is with a good ranking website. The problem with a large percentage of people who want a better body, as well as with website owners, is that everyone wants a quick fix. Everyone wants the end result yesterday already, with the least amount of work, at little or no expense, and they want it to last forever! Well thats not likely to happen anytime soon!

When I say the ‘fittest’ sites appear at the top of the search engine rankings, I mean the ones that are normally working the hardest at it. How do you excercise your website you might ask, well, here are some things you could do to increase its fitness:

  • Edit / add content on your website regularly – search engines as well as real people will visit more regularly if the content is fresh.
  • Refine your coding, make it clean, fast loading, and web standards compliant – nobody likes a slow clunky website
  • Keep your site design and coding up-to-date with the website trends and ideas – again, keep it fresh
  • Target specific key words and phrases with each new page, and tweak it on pages that are not ranking too well
  • Run a newsletter that can be sent out to a subscriber base, publish it on your website as a new page too, combine it with an RSS feed if you can.
  • Market the website on social networks, forums, blogs, newsgroups etc – flat out tell people about the site
  • Run competitions, polls etc on your site, get the visitors involved and interacting with the site
  • Build the brand, associate your website with speed, service, prices, value, whatever you can, so visitors return to your site and tell their friends about it.

It is way easier to get and keep an ‘active’ website in a good ranking position on search engines because like people, fitter is better. Just as in the human body, if you neglect your website, it will suffer, slow down, and generally fade into a sad soggy, floppy mess that nobody finds attractive! The top sites normally have been designed in a way that is appealing to the visitor as well as search engines. These days your design needs to be done twice, once on the visual side of the site, the part that the visitor sees, and again in the coding of the site. Both of these need to be maintained, toned, and updated, so that they dont become boring, obsolete, and uninteresting.

Just like there are those horrible people who never have to excercise, and still look great, there are horrible websites that seem to do well on search engines even though they just dont deserve to be there. It all comes down to conversion of visitor to customer, sometimes a site may rank well, but not convert anywhere near as many visitors to customers as a competitor website that ranks further down on search engine results. This is why your site must focus on the visitor and their experience on your website, just as much as the search engines, and their perception of your website.

The bottom line is that you will find it much easier to rank high in search engines if your site is well toned and excersised regularly. Like with most excercise, quick fixes are short lived and not worth it in the long run. Often you will end up in a worse position than when you started, and in the case of your website, may have to outlay large amounts to get your website and its reputation ‘fixed’.

It makes far more sense to set a goal and steadily work toward it, continuously making improvements with the end result in mind. In the long run, your site will rank better, and you will find it easier and easier to outrank competitor websites.

Those of you who suddenly feel the urge to tone your bodies and get fitter, visit hot body training for some tips

  • Mike

    Nice analogy and very sobering for people who are looking for that silver bullet to internet riches.

    Everybody wants to be the next John Chow, but few people actually put in the effort to build their sites up slowly and consistantly.

  • curt

    Hey, Francois, you are such a writer! A real pleasure to read your posts, even though they are long, but they are very encouraging to push a person in a right direction.

  • Herschel

    A very insightful post. In fact, I love the entire website. It

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