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Now if you search for the exact name of the driving school, as many people do, 5 of the 10 listing on the first SERP come up with my website in one form or another. The first few are the directories I submitted to, then a yellow pages ad, then another driving school in New Zealand with the same name (just their yellow pages listing), and then finally, the #10 listing is my website. This is on Google. On Yahoo, my site comes up as #1,#2, #8 and #9.
Any ideas why this is happening and how I can improve it so that my actual site comes up first rather than the directories it's listed in?
I remember you...
well, I would say you that it's perfectly normal that you have different rankings on different search engines,due to the fact that they use different matching criteria and ,often,a SEO principle,valid for one,becomes not valid for another.
So,you can do very few for that: from other hand,to get a page perfectly suitable for more SEs contemporaneously is the dream of every SEO professional...
Then,target only one search engine at time:choose one to begin and concentrate your efforts to get a good ranking on it;otherwise you only waste your time.
Keep an important thing in mind: You have to check your ranking BY KEYWORDS, NOT BY YOUR COMPANY NAME!
Pay attention on this:
A search done by your company name return ALWAYS the best result,unless to have a same name competitor company! It's normal to be ranked in top position for your own name...
But try to search by keywords:for instance,"driving schools"...
I think that the music changes completely!
So,it's on that you have to work hard to improve your visibility,assumed that you're interested in reaching a large public diffusion...
I was interested in checking the Google listing by the company name because, after checking the logs, I noticed that quite a few people search by the name of the driving school (maybe 1/3 or 1/4 depending on the week). We're also coming up under a lot of other driving related terms and area-specific terms. But I'll need to tweak it a bit more. A lot of hits come from Yahoo, but I think more people use Google, so I'd like to target Google.
I don't really know who would link to a driving school website (to help page rank). Certainly not the competitors, and the government testing center certainly wouldn't (for conflict of interest). But I must say that listing it in directories made a difference. At least now it shows up in Google. Not very well, but it's a start.
But keep in mind that most of the current search results, as you say,are represented by the DIRECTORY PAGES, not by YOUR SITE PAGES,so they are directory related/referred.
This is good or bad depending on the point of view: Good because in any case they make your site in SERPs;bad because if directory for any reason has problems and disappears from the SERPs your site too disappears.
So it's the case to improve your site pages to get THEM indexed and ranked autonomously on SEs.
I agree on targeting Google,because is actually the status of art of the web search and it returns reliable and "clean" results comparison to the others that are too easy to spam,BUT I insist on the fact that is not realistic to check your "popularity" by company name that as you report,represents only 1/3 - 1/4 of the total traffic:get a list of keyterms related to your activity,the ones you think that a visitor types in order to find you,and check your position according to them;than,if needed, optimize your pages in order to get higher ranking.
I would advice you to use a purpose made SEO software: The best of them allow you to individuate the best keywords for you reporting also how many competitor pages they have,to check and improve the keyword density of your pages and to monitorize the global trend in the time,so that you can act focusing only on the page/s needing modifies.
They are powerful tools that make a great difference for your visibility.
As regard to the links,I would add that is not an immediate worry,as it seems you've been linked from good and important directories,so this can be improved without hurry;keep only in mind that,in the future you can continue linking ANY site you wish:they are ALL valids to the Page rank calculation.So don't focus only on related websites/directories.
Last,be patient and wait:good results requires months assuming a continuing attention and monitoring of the global trend of your site,that is the main work that waits you as of now.
(and let me know if you want)
From the start I've been using a hidden hit counter that also has very good web analytics (like keywords used). That gave me a few good ideas when listing in those directories. Soon I will be redesigning the site and will focus a lot of attention on my meta tags and headings, as well as the content. I want to be careful to keep what's working well, and add some more useful terms.
Yes, a few more inbound links would be great. I'll keep looking for sites that may be able to link. With any luck, people may link to the site on their own, which should certainly help. I'll keep you posted on how it goes, and thanks again for the tips.