13 August 2006

A little background research

My younger son is going to a job interview next week so this week-end he did a little background preparation to make sure that he knew what the job entailed, had thought through his responses to likely questions and so forth. He even thought up a couple of questions to ask them so that he could look as if he had done some thinking about the role and the company before being interviewed. I don't get involved in any of that preparation unless asked - I don't want to look as if I'm interfering.

In parallel though I took a look at their site, listed off the keywords they had placed within meta tags and checked to see what their Google ranking is against those keywords. This is a business in the pharma sector and it is obviously an important service business which is commonly called on to deliver specific types of service during the development and testing of drugs and delivery systems. Their site is well-made and they have spent a bundle on it. Their ranking data is interesting - on some keywords they rank quite high, but on others they don't rank anywhere. On their first page they claim to be the number 1 organisation for a particular service in the pharma industry. That service is one of the keyword phrases I had checked. Guess what, they aren't ranked in the top 1000 sites against that keyword phrase in Google. Now it may be that everyone in the sector "knows" that they are number 1 for that particular service, but how about potential investors, journalists and anyone else outside the sector who might not be part of the privileged clique who is in the "know"?

It isn't as if this is a low volume keyword, either. People search for that term about 4,ooo times per month in North America. That isn't fmcg territory but this is a solid B2B service and 4,000 searches per month mean that those searches aren't listing this business. Why? Don't assume that because your site is well-built that it is delivering exactly what you expect.

I should of course say that there isn't just one keyword involved here - at least 8 of the important keyword phrases which appear in their meta tags and on their site, aren't listed in Google's top 1000 sites.

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