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By Sarah Asmus McCarthy  -  The Northern Colorado Business Report

More and more companies are selling their goods and services over the Internet, but the vast increase in Web traffic has made it harder for potential customers to locate a business' particular site. One Fort Collins company has centered its business around helping dot-com companies be found on the search engines, and therefore by customers.

BMC Limited, a Web site marketing and development company, indexes Web sites for companies that want to increase their Web presence. The company has seen such a great interest in its services that it recently added three new employees and launched its newly redesigned Web site, www.BMClimited.com.

"We just had too much work and needed to expand," said James Smith, president of BMC. "People are more conscious of the traffic on their Web sites and are starting to take action to increase their numbers."

Since 1996 when the company started, its client base has tripled - a trend Smith thinks will continue. He bases this on BMC's growth and the company's uniqueness of having someone devoted solely to indexing sites with the search engines.

"Other companies offer similar services, but don't have one person dedicated to search-engine placement," Smith said. "I'm doing it all the time so I stay up on the trends."

Proper search engine placement takes a lot of research into finding out why people are successful with certain key words in searches and how to modify a Web site to take advantage of that.

Another thing that sets BMC apart is that it submits its customers' sites to the major search engines manually, rather than using placement software. Many companies use only the software to submit Web sites to the search engines. Smith uses software for some of the smaller search engines, but thinks submitting by hand shows superior results.

"We want to ensure quality, and I don't feel you get the same results using the software," Smith said. "I'd rather take the time to do it right."

And good results is what customers are looking for. When a Web site is easily found businesses can thrive.

"I was just on 'Good Morning America' because our site came up in the top 10 when they did a search," said Charles Bolta, owner of American Environmental Products in Fort Collins.

The company makes full-spectrum lighting that is used to treat seasonal affective disorder and other light related difficulties. When the folks at ABC did a search for "jet lag," American Environmental came up as having a solution.

Bolta was so pleased with the results of Smith's indexing that he uses his Web site as his primary form of advertising, and he even contacted his distributors and told them to work with BMC Limited because he wanted them to be easily located as well.

Indexing with the search engines is an ongoing process because they are constantly changing. Smith follows up on a monthly basis to make sure his clients are still coming up in searches and so they can see what their position is.

"It can't be done once," Smith said. "It's constant work. Would you run a newspaper ad once in January and think that was good for the whole year?"

"You think you're up there and going to stay, but it doesn't work that way," said Damon Gage, manager for StockArt.com in Fort Collins. "You have to keep up with the search engines."

Not only is indexing a continuing process, but it also one that can take time to show results. It usually takes about three months to get noticed on the search engines, so the effect is not immediately evident, and not everyone wants to wait.

"Obviously some people do leave, but anybody that's stayed over a year has never left," Smith said. "If you're looking to sell a bunch of stuff over night it's not worth it, but if you're looking for steady consistent growth over the long haul this is the way to go."

Some clients who left BMC Limited have ended up returning. Bolta of American Environmental Products decided to leave and have an old friend index his site, but ended up back at BMC Limited.

"It really taught me his value," Bolta said. "We went from doing thousands of dollars a day to practically nothing within a month. We went back to James and noticed it picking up again in two to three months."

Jan Ruhe, an author, speaker and trainer in Aspen, left and then returned to Smith's company as well. The people that put together her new Web site told her they would get her on the search engines, but didn't.

"I came back to James and he helped," Ruhe said. "We had made strides in the beginning before I left, but because of my leaving we lost ground."

Smith said that offline methods are sometimes effective for dot-coms, but it's better to reach people while at their computer. And in comparison to some other online advertising, such as banner ads, indexing is less expensive, and he feels, more effective.

"Just like an unlisted phone number, an unindexed Web site can't be found," Smith said.


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