There are many websites that you may consider using to help promote your south of Boston business. Before you do, however, there are some steps you can take to learn about a website before you commit any funds.
I often receive emails from directories who are asking me to pay a fee to list my company. Highly ranked directories can not only drive traffic to your site, but can help your rankings on search engines. However, pick the wrong Directory and it can actually lower you rankings with Google and other search sites. Below are a few tools you can use to determine the quality of a website before you place links or advertise with them.
I recently found a fantastic social networking site (www.bigTreetop.com) focused on small businesses located south of Boston. I’m considering enrolling as a company, but wanted to do some research first. I’ve outlined some of the steps I’ve taken to learn more about this website.
Google ranks all web pages on a 1 – 10 scale. An average website has a 2 or 3 ranking, a good website has a 4 to 6 ranking, and larger, well-developed sites have rankings over 6 (few websites get rankings over 6). www.eBay.com, for example, has a google PageRank of 8, and a well-known local website like www.wikedlocal.com has a Google PageRank of 5.
BigTreetop.com has a ranking of 3, which is a good ranking for a fairly new website that focuses on a niche local market. Our website, www.sinatraco.com has a PageRank of 4 probably because we’ve been around a little longer (I would suspect that BigTreetop will have a higher PageRank in the next year or so). Our higher PageRank has moved us to the #3 spot on Google for “South of Boston Web Design” and #4 for “South of Boston Marketing.”
What plays into this ranking is the number of quality sites (PageRank of 3 or higher) that link to your site as well as the age of a URL. Also, the number of outbound links to high quality sites (PageRank of 6 or better) will also play into this ranking (I often link to www.wikipeida.com to provide more information on specific terms and ideas). There are many other criteria that play into this rank, but these are key factors.
If you want to see Google PageRanks go to www.Google.com and download their toolbar. Once loaded, you’ll see a little green bar that shows the rank of each page in which you visit. You will also be able to see all the linked sites that figure into the PageRank by putting “link:” before any URL in the Google Search Box.
For example, you can see the inbound links for www.bigtreetop.com by putting “link:http://www.bigtreetop.com” in the Google search box. While there may be dozens of inbound links to a site, Google will only track the highly rated sites.
Keep this in mind when a company solicits your business to advertise on their site. If it’s not a highly ranked site it will not even show up on the Google links page. Importantly, if it ranks 0 – 1 it may even hurt your ranking on Google and other search engines. Be very leery of anyone who asks you to put links to your site all over the Internet on free directories. Being linked to a handful of good quality, relevant sites is far better than being linked to thousands of sites with low rankings.
Another way to learn more about a web site is via a DNS lookup. This will tell you if a site has been around for a while, which has a strong weighting on Google Search results and PageRank. It will also tell you if it’s only been around a short time and you can often see the owner of the URL.
If you look at www.BigTreetop.com, for example, in a DNS lookup (via www.dnsstuff.com), we found that the site is owned by the CEO of BigTreetop and that it has been around for many years. These are both positive indications that this is a solid website.
The last tool I’ll share is fun to use. It’s called the “wayback machine” and allows you to see what a web address looked like in years’ past. Simply go to http://www.archive.org/web/web.php and type in a web address. I typed in www.bigtreetop.com and found out that they’ve been working with a social media concept since as early as 2007. I also learned that this is was the only usage of this web address.
This tool is also helpful if you’re picking a URL so you can make sure a previous owner of the URL did not use it in negative ways.
Overall, I learned that www.bigtreetop.com is a reputable website, has some positive momentum in terms of increasing their PageRank, and they’ve been working in the social media space for several years (which is a fairly “new” industry).
In the atmosphere of full disclosure, we also have a fairly new website, www.AnAffordableWebsite.com that provides free websites for small businesses, which has a PageRank of 1. This is likely due to the age of the site (it’s fairly new), there are few outbound links (we don’t have a blog on this site), and few inbound links (we do mostly Google Ads rather than linking to promote the site). While we have not done any “search engine optimization” on this site yet, our intent is to move this page rank up in the months to come.