Nic Boyde had a 30-year career in international banking, living in 14 different countries and learning 4 more languages in the process.
He says "Banking mostly involves reading lengthy and confused documents in the guise of applications for loans. Over time one learns to separate the gold from the dross, and to value brevity and clarity in writing. The search engines have learned this too, and the best SEO results are not gained from gaming Google, but by stellar writing. This is what I do."
Nic built his first website in 1996 to support his wife's business: exporting consumer electronics from Japan to the rest of the world, especially Minidiscs. The site is still live, although the business was wound up when Nic and his wife were transferred to the UK. Other websites followed though, free ones for amateur sports clubs, and award-winning intranet sites for Nic's employers, but it was not until Nic retired from banking and moved to Australia that he started advising others on how to get their websites noticed, indexed and ranked by Google.
He says "Google was set up by a couple of PhDs in maths who thought up a mathematical way to compare one set of text with another so as to classify like with like without having to actually understand the text. Very clever people. They hired very clever people, and still hire hundreds of PhDs in maths every year. You can't out-think them. So I don't try to. Instead I learn what Google wants and take care to provide it".
Nic doesn't attempt to "game" Google. He avoids the devices that Google detests, and provides the data that Google desires, and the result is consistently-high rankings, even in fields as competitive and poorly-differentiated as real estate; rankings that persist over time without constant tweaking.
"An acquaintance once said to me, apropos splash pages, 'You get one kick at the cat. One chance to get their attention. Don't squander it'. This was in the days of 14.4k modems, and images took ages to download", says Nic. "It was advice I never forgot".
Websites are not like shopfronts on your local high street. If a shop window doesn't attract you today, it might the next time you walk past it, and walk past it again you will. Not so a website. If it fails to attract your attention the very first time you arrive at it, you will never knowingly walk past it again.
Before long Nic was advising others how to get ranked - how to get seen. He soon realised that it wasn't just the content, the writing, that wasn't doing the website owners any favours. All too often the sites were stuffed with the tricks that search engines punish. Or simple things were done wrong, like combining mark-up and style and scripts in massive slow-to-load pages; or making the front page simply an image, often with hidden navigation to make things look pretty.
"Google doesn't give marks for 'pretty'", says Nic. "Google deals with text. Flat text."
Landing pages have to provide both an attractive appearance to persuade the visitor to linger or explore, and they have to provide some words so that Google can classify the site, and some form of navigation through the rest of the site. "It's common sense", says Nic. "Would you build a shop with a hidden door and no signage? No. Nor should you build a website like that either."
Whether starting from scratch or reviving an older site, speak to Nic first.