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Web Sites & Search Engine Optimizations

The more web sites we design and host, the more we find ourselves answering questions about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  When I talk with monument companies, funeral homes and cemeteries about web sites I try to give them the most straightforward answers possible.  Almost daily I get questions like these:

- If I buy ads and rankings, am I getting ripped off?
- Why am I not at the top of search engine rankings?
- Why are other results such as Yellow Pages, Manta, and others, 
ahead of mine?
- Why are my rankings increasing, but not my sales?
- Why aren't my sales increasing along with my number of hits?

Most of the business owners and managers I talk with know that they need SEO in order to be found in the search engines (most notably Google).  However, due to the number of sales calls and emails they've received about SEO they've become understandably cautious about scams and purchasing unnecessary services.
Here's what's happening out there.  In one form or another SEO has been around for quite some time, but if you compare it with other forms of advertising such as newspaper, radio, television and magazine, it really is in its infancy.  As with anything relatively new there are many companies and services claiming to guarantee results.  The truth is, no one guarantee anything.
There is an unprecedented demand for Search Engine Optimization services today - with business owners seemingly crawling over one another to try and be on the "first page in Google" for their desired keywords.  Currently I feel many business owners are looking for a needle in a haystack when they haven't yet located the haystack.  SEO agencies thrive on the fact that most business owners have no idea how SEO connects to conversions or sales.
Without clear ideas about what SEO can do many business owners are easy prey for many SEO agencies.  Many of you have been hearing on the phone about amazing offers and promises.  It seems as long as business owners hear "first page rankings", and the salesperson hears "credit card details," everyone is happy.  Until there is no increase in sales.  Market definition is key.  You may be on the first page of rankings, and you may get interest from people who are thousands of miles away.  But without a means of delivering and installing monuments over a great distance, your hits and search engine rankings will not result in sales.
If you do decide to spend a fee towards SEO, then over time, you should be making a positive return on that investment - and the only way that's going to happen is if you focus on increasing revenue and sales, NOT keywords and rankings.  If you're thinking financially at the start, then you should be thinking financially at the end.  Rankings do not equate to income - conversions do.  This is the reason why, I ask questions such as:
- Where are your customers?
- Where do you want to find new customers?
- How much revenue is your current site generating?
- What are your conversion rates?

We believe in organic SEO.  Not ads and immediate top rankings.  Too may times SEO agencies practice:
- Spinning articles,
- Keyword stuffing,
- Stretching content very thin,
- Inserting links in cheap article directories, and
- Using automated software that blasts links globally.

Unfortunately all this is beginning to give the SEO industry a bad name.  All too often we don't see any on-page optimization at all. The SEO firm has simply gone about building some links pointing back to the monument company's site. This is counterproductive, because without sorting out your on-page issues first, building links to it is pointless.
Spam-filled links are a common problem. In this case an SEO agency does nothing but submit your website to spam business directories.
Over-optimization occurs when agencies continually hammer keywords and exact-match anchors to the point where the site becomes severely over-optimized and can be penalized by search engines.  
It is very important to have clear, realistic expectations, and know what your end goals are. For business owners this means that they should be able to measure results.  This can be as simple as hearing from a number of customers who tell you that your web site helped them find you or helped them make a decision on one of your products.  That is a rather tangible and measurable goal.  It's not a high-tech metric, but it is very effective.
Now did you notice that not once did I mention keywords or rankings in the previous paragraph?  That's because very often rankings are vanity metrics and they do not guarantee results. I've seen too many websites that rank well and make very little money. They would perform far better if they focused on conversions, sales, and leads.  Some business owners check their web sites every few minutes to see if they've moved up in the rankings.  Here is a conversion conversation I've had many times:
Design Mart: "So, you want to be first in Google for monument companies, is that right?"
Customer: "Yes."
Design Mart: "Why?"
Customer: "Because we want more traffic to our website."
Design Mart: "Do you want more traffic or more sales?"
Customer: "Both"
Design Mart: "But if you must choose...?"
Customer: "Sales, of course.  How would we make that work?"

Answer:  It takes time and attention to detail when constructing a web site.  Keywords and good text can improve sales, and increase lead conversions more than paid rankings.  Focusing only on achieving a number one ranking with Google is not really the goal at all.  Calls, inquiries and sales are your real goals.
Please feel free to email or call us today if you have questions about a new web site or how to make your current web site work harder for you.

10 Ways To Improve Your Monument Sales Web Site


Today every company must have a web site. And it's even more important to have one that ranks highly in search engines and performs its job of providing text and graphics quickly. We've developed a list of ten principles that guide us in every site we build, and these tips can help you with a site if you already have one.


1. Attract visitors to your web site.
We place web addresses on many of the monument brochures we imprint for our customers. You should also place it in ads, on your signs, business cards, letterhead, and anywhere else that potential visitors might see it.
2. Optimize your site for better search engine results.
Be sure to use plenty of well written, informative, descriptive text on your pages. Text is the primary driver of search engine results. Be sure to name your pictures when uploading them. "Pic.jpg" is not as good a name as "Monument.jpg" since these names can also help with searches.
3. Create simple navigation.
Many sites, especially home pages, have too much information scattered among various, random categories. This information is often duplicated in the navigation bar at the top of the screen, and many sites even have additional navigation bars on the sides of the screen. It's better to have one navigation bar, and we recommend placing it at the top. You should be able to divide your content into four to ten categories or navigation buttons.
4. Have complete contact information.
Too often, companies list an email address, but no phone number. Or they'll have an email and phone number, but no street address. Visitors want to know who you are, and where you're located. We create an interactive map on virtually every site we build. Also, it may be important to reference landmarks such as a cemetery or well-know restaurant in the area.
5. Select photos carefully.
It's important not to have too many photos. If visitors have to wade through hundreds of monument designs they will lose interest. It is also important to optimize your images for the web. Do not upload a photo directly from your camera to your web site. Often, these photos are large, high resolution photos that take seconds, or minutes, to download. Each image should be low resolution, and sized to fit the space on the page. This way, images download quickly, and your visitors don't have to wait.
6. Educate your visitors.
Include information that educates your visitors about monument symbolism, types and styles of monuments, setting and cleaning techniques, and other things that your clients may not know. An FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions, section can be a very helpful tool.
7. Use Flash wisely.
Some Flash introductions and sites that utilize Flash exclusively are problems for certain operating systems, browsers, older versions of Flash, or people with slow connections.
8. Don't let your site become a shopping cart.
Business owners like the idea of letting the client do the work, make the decisions, calculate the price and check out. However, many of these product images and prices often end up in the hands of the competition. The work has already been done for them, and all they have to do is take a few dollars off the price. Make your site informative, and invite your visitors to begin a dialog with you. Building a relationship and providing service is what people appreciate.
9. Generate leads.
When we provide our Online Catalog & Monument Designer on web sites we've designed we recommend a lead generating system for logging customers in. This provides a name and email for each person who visits your Online Catalog & Monument Designer so you can follow up with each visitor to answer questions or provide additional information.
10. Be yourself.
Your web site should reflect who you really are. If you are a small company that offers a personal touch - let your web site show it. If you are a large corporation with many sales representatives and locations - let your web site show it. One of the worst things you can do is trick your clients into thinking you're another type of company.

This is not a complete list of helpful ideas. There are many other ways to maximize your web site's effectiveness. Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call us at 800-736-7455 if you'd like for us to take a look at your current web site, or if you would like to discuss creating a new site for your company.


All you need to do is email or call us.  We have design ideas that we can suggest for your web site, and we can also help write text that will be helpful and informative for your visitors.  If you'd like to change any text or graphics we suggest just let us know.  We want your site to reflect your business.  We'll start with some basic ideas based on input we gather during our phone conversations and emails with you.

Here are some examples of recent sites we've done.  Each one of these only took a few emails and photos to get started.  We can help you with organization, navigation, writing/text, graphics, logos, online catalog and monument design tools.  Our staff can also register your own domain name for you, or we can work with your existing domain and server space.

Laguna Monument Company Silas Worth Monument Company Deaton Funeral Homes Southern Memorial Company Heritage Memorials by Design Mart Morris Monument Site by Design Mart Sample Web Page

We'll be glad to talk with you and help you get started.  Just email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call toll-free 800-736-7455 today.



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