I Learned <HTML> To Write My First Blog Post
September 3, 2021
I think of website traffic the same way I think about how many people walk thru my restaurant's front door. A restaurant's website should generate revenue both online and offline.
My Current Website Traffic Sucks
So before I start fiddling with my restaurant websites, which do generate some money, I have decided to start with my own website, which doesn't. I've had this site for quite a few years and from time to time, I would write a blog post. In fact, I wrote 22 blog posts over the last few years. Take a look at the image below. This is from my Google Analytics dashboard and it shows the website traffic I've generated during the past six months.
Aside from a day back in April 2021, my site gets less than a dozen hits a day. The highest number of hits ever was back on Feburary 12, 2021 where I scored 104 hits. Overall, these are awful results and it's clear that my previous attempt at blogging didn't work. If I were a restaurant, chances are most folks wouldn't know about me.
NOTE: If you're not familiar with Google Analytics, it's time for you to figure this out. I'll be exploring this in future posts, but in the meantime, ask whomever built your website to give you access so you can look at your traffic. It's important.
A big part of the problem is content. Like many, I thought of building my website as a task. Design it, build it, and forget about it. Job done. Maybe I'll get around to updating it again in a few years. But I was wrong. That's not how Google works. Google needs fresh, focused content. A website must be a primary focus for any business. It needs to grow, constantly, with relevant content.
I'm a strong believer that every business is now an online business. Restaurants are no exception. In fact, having a strong online presence is as important as the quality of your food.
People Google What And Where To Eat
You do it, I do it, everyone does it. We Google where we want to eat. We search for things like 'Best hamburger restaurant near me' or 'Top pizza places in Singapore'. Google then returns the results for websites that are optimised for these keywords. Unless you've made a conscious effort to ensure your website ranks high for certain keywords, you're probably not appearing in the search results where you should be visible.
So let's take a look at how I'm doing. The purpose of my website is to position myself as an authority on fast casual restaurants in Singapore. Google should know, after all, that I own nearly a dozen fast casual restaurants in Singapore. A Google search reveals, not surprisingly, it doesn't. I'm nowhere to be found in the search results.
Ok, maybe the words fast casual confused the search engine. Certainly Google must know that I am a restaurant entrepreneur. I've been featured in lots of articles and if you Google my name directly, you see all sorts of links to my restaurant management company Deelish Brands. So what about searching for 'Singapore restaurant entrepreneur'.
Once again, I'm not there. I guess the good news is that nobody is ranking for these search results either. This means I have a pretty decent shot at being one of the first results.
When it comes to your restaurant, there is likely to be much more competition for searches like 'Best hamburger in Singapore.' So find your angle, or your niche. You're more likely to dominate results for 'Best hamburger in Tampines' or maybe even focus on one of your signature products, like 'Best Chili Burger in Singapore.'
I was shocked to learn that most web designers have no idea how the internet actually works. They design websites that look good visually. But do they design sites that look good to Google?
Websites should be Google friendly, otherwise they might be ignored
To gain a better understanding of how to improve my restaurant websites' ranking on Google, I first started to read books on search engine optimisation. Here are the key lessons I learned:
- Don't confuse the Google bots that crawl the web with overly fancy designs and interactions. Keep it simple.
- Google ranks the pages of your website, not your entire site. Each page is an opportunity to promote new keywords.
- Google loves content. Articles should be between 2,000 to 5,000 words and have a focus. Longer articles means visitors will spend more time on your site.
- Make sure all of the pages on your site have links in and out. No dead ends. Avoid pop-ups and other interactions that may be considered dead-ends.
- Google loves it when other sites link back to pages on your site. It means your site can be trusted.
- Be unique.
After an initial bit of research, I concluded that to implement search engine optimisation properly, I needed to learn the language of the internet, i.e. HTML. So I began reading books with the intention of applying this knowledge to rank my websites higher on Google search results.
I also learned that many web designers don't actually develop websites from scratch. Instead, they rely on pre-designed templates and just fill in the gaps. This means they don't actually practice HTML. While they may understand the basics, it's not their main skill. They practice design and often work with the tools available via these templates, avoiding direct HTML as much as possible.
Ultimately, this means they have no idea whether or not the code being generated by the template is Google friendly.
Most companies that claim they can improve your Google search ranking are selling you snake oil. There are no short-cuts. It's a long process that takes time and dedication. Doing it wrongly can hurt you.
The process is simple. Pick your keywords and write lots of content to promote those keywords.
Ok fine, it's not that simple after all. And that's why I decided to go all in and learn HTML myself. Outsourcing or delegating this job to someone else just seemed like a recipe for disaster. After an initial bit of research, I realized I was spending thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars over the years building websites that would ultimately be invisible from the perspective of Google.
In fact, I paid the last design firm a decent chunk of change to build my original site. We talked about things like color schemes, layout, fonts, etc. You know, design stuff. Never did we discuss things like keywords or Google rankings. I'm sure most website conversations start off this way. They pitch their crazy awesome designs, and they try and sell you all the SEO stuff later, at an added cost, after the website has already been built.
SEO is not something you do after you build your website. It's like building your house and then deciding you need plumbing. You'll end up with sewerage pipes running thru the middle of your living room. The right thing to do is start with SEO and then build your website around it. This means you start with keywords and then design your pages around those keywords. In fact, I'll stop using the word website entirely. Rather, I'll use the words web content, because that's what it's all about.
I built this website from scrath using HTML5. I didn't use a template, or plug-ins. I'll be adding to it over time and sharing what I learn and my progress along the way.
Rather than engage another developer, I decided to go at it myself. I've often read that entrepreneurs should learn a new skill every year. Rather than learn Japanese or the Art of Origami, I've decided to learn a skill that I believe will have a direct impact on my business. By being able to develop my own web content, there are limitless possibilities I can pursue to increase the revenue of my business. I can also ensure that from the beginning, my site is designed to appear in those all too important Google searches.
About Moe Ibrahim
Hi, I am Moe Ibrahim. I created this site to take control of my online presence, as well as those of my restaurants. I believe that by doing so, I can significantly increase the profitability of my businesses. I will share my journey with you so that you can do the same.
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