How visible are you?

Chambers, R. & Weideman, M.

Poster in Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists (SAICSIT). 20-22 September. White River, South Africa.

Chambers, R. & Weideman, M. 2005. How visible are you? Poster in Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists (SAICSIT). 20-22 September. White River, South Africa. Online:

The objectives of this research study were to investigate to what extent SMMEs utilize the potential of having a visible website with a high search engine ranking. Secondly, the authors identified some of the elements used by websites currently ranking in the top positions. These results were then used to design a model which includes the most important elements identified through literature and exploratory study.

Problem Statement
The fact that SMMEs are not utilising the full potential of e-Commerce, results in the loss of advantages offered by a highly visible website. This ultimately culminates in a negative impact on bottom line profitability.

The adoption of e-commerce by organizations offers numerous business opportunities in a global environment [Bester 2003]. The reality though is that small businesses often lack the knowledge, time and funds to design a visible website. In many cases, web owners would often simply launch their site, do nothing to ensure visibility and wait for hits that could never come [Barron 2000]. Several methods exist for finding a website on the Internet, but one of the most often used ones, is a search service [Nobles and O'Neil 2000; Green 2000]. Therefore a great amount of emphasis should be placed on the importance of improving visibility techniques during the development or updating of a website [Thurow 2003].

A total of 258 websites were analysed to determine their ranking within 6 search engines, being AOL, Google, Hotbot, MSN, Netscape and Yahoo. A further evaluation was done on 144 different websites by searching for 12 individual keywords within 4 search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo, Ananzi), and taking the first 3 results of every keyword from every search engine for analysis. Elements gathered through academic literature were then listed according to the usage of these elements in the top-ranking websites when searching for predetermined keywords.

The results proved that SMMEs are in desperate need of improved visibility. The research further identified 12 elements which could be used to improve the position of a website within the top search engines. It should be noted that even though these elements are rated according to importance, it does not guarantee a higher visibility, should it be applied.

As time progresses and technology improves, new ways to improve website visibility will evolve. No quick method exists for businesses to produce visible websites. These websites are not worth much without traffic which is drawn through the implementation of several strategies. There are many aspects that should all be considered - both a time consuming and an ongoing process. Results gathered from this research project produced a potentially effective model consisting out of ranked methods necessary to attempt to achieve this much needed visibility.
  1. Barron, C. 2000. Brilliant ideas but spectacular flops. Sunday Times: 1, April 9.
  2. Nobles, R. & O'Neil's. 2000. Maximiza website traffic: build website traffic fast and free by optimizing search engine placement. Avon, MA: Adams Media Corporation.
  3. Thurow, S. 2003. Search engine visibility. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders.
Full text of Conference Poster No 0147: How visible are you?

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