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In House Web Development

When I was given the green light to develop a website in-house from scratch, one constraint was that there would be no budget for advertising, All business was to be generated via native search results.

There is a place for paid advertising for a website just as there is for the brick and mortar side of the busines however, the constraint represented a good challenge and I set about designing a new site.

SEO best practices are that the new site should be coded with validated, accessible, strictly encoded XHTML separate from the validated CSS. I did all of that.

Rather than going heavy on graphics, I tried to keep the page weight as low as practical. Instead of fixed page dimensions, I used a semi-fluid layout by which the pages could resize larger and smaller about 15 percent without scripting.

Page Redirects

The old template site had over 100 pages coded as active pages. The URL for each old page contained a query string followed by an identifier. In general, the page rank wasn't great but I didn't just want to lose it since I planned to reuse much of the page content in the new site. I also had no intention of losing 2 years worth of inbound links either. So, I had to redirect traffic from old pages to the new pages.

In order that I didn't lose links and page rank when porting, I wrote a large case statement to get the value from the query string and send a 301 redirect to the requesting server along with the URL of the replacement page.

Hacker Safe

I had already seen from server logs that a lot of visitors came from parts of the World that appeared unrelated to obtaining a mortgage in Florida. The way they were attracted to the login page and forms also suggested they were probably up to no good. So, with the new site, I decided against having customer logins whereby a client could monitor the status of their mortgage. Customers didn't use them much anyway. I would just include an email form.

When I turned up the new site, all manner of attacks were made against the contact form. To my knowledge, no one ever got in. As a protection just in case, I kept a backup of all files on a local PC and a DVD.

No Frills

I knew customers prefered to call versus email. The ratio was about 6 to 1. For that reason, I made sure to prominently display phone numbers on the side banner of each page.

By studying log files from the template site, I also knew the loan calculators section didn't get used much so, I decided against having calculators -- at least for the initial release. Apparently, loan calculators are used quite early in the loan process when a potential customer is just trying to get an idea as to how much they can afford and what a particular loan will cost them. Since it was just me creating the site, there was only so much I could do at once. So, I decided a tools section could wait for a later release.

My prime objective for the new site was to generate business via native search. I could add tools, bells and whistles later.


The strategy paid off as shortly after turning up the new site, native search result for Atlantic Mortgage without quotes quickly rose to first page, first position. A number of other product pages scored first page results and the leads were generating more than enough business to cover my salary.

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