So how can a busy dealer executive that may or may not have any technology expertise determine whether the company's Web site will get good search engine placement? There are a number of simple steps you can take and tests you can run:

  • First, open your company's home page, go to the top of your browser, and select the “View” drop down. Near the bottom of the options, select “Source.” This is where you (or any site visitor) can see the “source code” for your site.
  • Check to see whether your site has a field called “title.” Whatever words you select for that field will appear at the very top of the site visitor's browser bar. It should be a simple word or group of words that clearly define the company, its business, and its Web site. Search engines strongly weight the title field when interpreting the focus of a page.
  • Look at the field called “meta name = description.” It should include a clear, substantive explanation of what your company is and does. Often, search engines will use this phrasing or something close to it when listing your site in search results. If there's no such field, consider adding it.
  • Look at the “meta name = keywords” field to see if they represent a prioritized list of products, services, or other topics that you'd like to have your site associated with. For pro dealers, obvious choices are lumber, wood, construction, building materials, and so on. If there are no keywords, consider adding them.
  • Run some test searches on Google. If you enter your company name, does it come up as the first result? Check to see if you can find a specific page on your site, such as your listing of services, by entering “your company name services.” Finally, try entering “lumber” or “building materials” and your primary city or geographic location, and determine whether your company comes up on the first screen of results. If any or all of these searches don't yield the results you're looking for, it's time to revisit your Web site design and update the information it presents to the search engines.