Research tools - laptops for the Internet and handhelds for mobile usability testing

isham research

Internet Search Engine Results

Phil Payne is a Google Bionic Poster and Top Contributor based in Sheffield UK. The opinions here are not Google's

How does a web site get penalized or excluded?

There are many reasons traffic can fall off. Perhaps SEO that pushed the envelope too far. It can happen by accident - a background colour of white with a picture as wallpaper and white text on top - a search engine spider might think you're trying to hide white text on a white background and ban the site. Sometimes the rules change - what was a clever trick last month is "offensive" (Google's own term) this month.

The rules are undocumented and volatile. Staying ahead of Internet search engine practice is a full-time job. Search engine penalties can be applied in minutes and take months to lift - staying in front of the ball is essential.

For a no-obligation check of your site, send its URI (URL - the web address) to Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch.

How can isham research help?

Our speciality is website rescue, redesign and maintenance. The input is the low-ranking or invisible mess you currently have - the output is a clean, validated and conforming site; the HTML simplified and commented so that future maintenance will be a much less costly business. With search engine bans & penalities removed and all the rubbish thrown away so that dial-up and mobile users can use your site too. Not every potential customer has broadband, Javascript or Flash, the latter sometimes for good reasons.

Getting results from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask Jeeves and Lycos involves co-operation - helping them meet their objectives as well as yours, and not trying to trick them into giving you an undeserved position on their results pages. Realising their limitations, too, and operating within expectations. It's more than Search Engine Optimization - that's why isham research calls it Search Engine Relationship Management.

Why Search Engine Relationship Management is Important.

Until now the search engines have tried to index every page on the web, subject to quality guidelines. But they cannot keep doing this - the web is growing too fast. And why should a search engine index and cache a vendor's 500,000 page catalog when a menu tree structure on the site will do the same job better and be more up to date.

What will the search engines do to contain their resources? First - properly implement the guidelines they've talked about for years and discard web sites that don't comply. This is already happening - many sites are finding that their search engine optimization is definitely first-generation. Many have either lost position or been dropped from some search engines entirely. What you got away with last year will hurt now - and what you get away with today will hurt down the line. Ask BMW about being banned from Google.

Second - the search engines will use partial indexing. Truly huge sites will find the honeymoon is over and only a fraction of their pages will be indexed. The key to the future is exploiting the resources the search engines are prepared to devote to you, and managing how they do it.

Sometimes a targetted directory entry or two can help - DMOZ or the Open Directory Project is falling in significance, but there are others that can be especially useful for a local business.

Is isham research any good?

Check for yourself.

We can't guarantee any position in SERPs - no one can. We can, however, guarantee that you will outperform the median in your business and we'd aim to get you into the 98th percentile. Let's be fair - some sectors are hideously competitive - home refinancing, pension plans, real estate, wedding supplies, etc.

The odds are - if you think it would be a brilliant idea to put up a web site offering something ideal for the web, several thousand people have already had the same idea.

You'd think search engine optimization would be the hardest-fought of all sectors - but the truth is that quite a few are just not very good. A source of endless amusement is a steady stream of "SEO specialists" asking on Usenet how to get their own sites listed.

We can get you well above the average. To get higher, you have a differentiator that we can place. A unique branding, perhaps, that gets you remembered. And we won't use any of the tricks that can get you banned.

The Jargon - Hits, PageRank, Links, Sitemaps, HTML/text ratios, Canonical Penalties, Crawlers and Spiders.

And the complexity of Google's product - XML versus HTML sitemaps, Analytics, Adsense, Adwords, etc.

The mythology. We do that bit. None of these are relevant to your business. Your bank manager won't care how many hits you had this year or what your PageRank is. So the only reasonable metric for a web site is - how much business does it bring in?

There are ways to measure that. Dedicated web-only phone lines, web-only special offers, Urchin Analytics and the like. All classic marketing techniques and we'll do that or work with whomever you usually use.

You might wonder whether a web site is a good idea. Someone like a freelance plumber covering a small area might just as well signwrite his van with a cellphone number and advertise locally - web sites are not compulsory. For other businesses, web sites can be a way to find new customers who then remember you - the capture mode; or a way to drive transactions through the business - full e-commerce.

But for the latter two - it doesn't matter a damn how pretty and easy to use your site is if no one can find you.

Your corporate image on the web.

No doubt your company operates to the highest professional standards. Your financial records are neat, tidy and audited. You may have ISO9000 certification and the highest standards in your IT department. Your website, though, is different.

Uniquely - the actual code used to generate the web page your visitors see is visible to everyone. Try it - go to your own web site, and then click on View and Source. See any structure? See any comments in the code? Is this business-critical function documented at all? It's like letting your customers rummage in the cellar.

And are your pages validated? If you produce and/or sell a quality product, your web page should reflect quality. Nowhere else does your company lay itself open like this - pick a competitor, view their home page, and look at their source. Impressed? The World Wide Web Consortium operates a validation service, and pages (like this one) that pass validation earn the right to show a little logo like this one somewhere on the page:

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict

How do I control it?

isham research uses a number of internally-developed tools to analyse web site logs and spot anomalies. These reports are normally sent via email on a monthly basis and then discussed. Your site will also be monitored via the Google Webmaster Tools Console and via Google Analytics - the latter allowing you to examine any of dozens of different reports any time of the day or night.

What do I need to do?

Send money. See below. And tell us what you do - why would someone want to see your name come up rather than a competitor's? It's a waste of time for you and the search engines if you come up in searches for things you don't do. Tricking people into coming to your site when they really should be somewhere else helps neither of you - so forget the "as many as possible" and think of "the right ones". Never mind the width, feel the quality. Profit is what it's about.

The web is not a magical place - the same rules apply as anywhere else. How did the people who know you now first find you, and how did thos who ought to have found you miss you? Marketeers have been finding answers to these questions literally for millennia.


We operate strict ethical principles:

What does it cost?

How long is a piece of string? The lowest possible charge - a site with a single relatively simple home page (like this one),a Google sitemap and submission is around £300 ($520, 440€) for FTP password setup, conversion, resubmission, etc., plus around £100 ($170, 150€) each for up to ten pages thereafter. Monthly maintenance at around a tenth of this, with updates to content extra.

Larger sites obviously MUCH, MUCH cheaper pro rata, especially where conversion of a large site can be automated or the site itself is automated - then it could be pennies/cents per page. It depends - send a URL for a quote. And a quick guess at what might be possible.

Other than that - it depends how strongly the mess smells. Only one site has so far been advised to junk the lot and start again. They did, and they're back in business. Cleaning up "free" link farms can be expensive and sometimes impossible. It may be more economical to register a new domain.

Cascading backup.

All work in progress is backed up to continuously to a separate hard drive and weekly both to a local file server and a remote repository. There are two sorts of people in the world - those who have lost data and those who will.

Musicians Service.

For the special musicians' SEO in Sheffield offering, see here

Contact by email or use mobile/SMS 07833 654800