world web was created in 7 days by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, as project for scientists and engineers at CERN in 1989/90:-) At first it grew pretty slowly, and those in the know knew the addresses of all web sites. However pretty soon it reached the stage where there were too many websites and too many pages on those web sites for you to find what you wanted. Search engines were developed such as Altavista, gaining in sophistication, and finally culminating in Google and Bing.
In the early days, it was possible to create your web site, the search engine would index it by the meta data. The people figured out that they could manipulate their position in the search engine rankings, to get on the first page of results, by flooding their site meta data and text with key words. Google adopted a new an approach, the PageRank algorithm developed by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. This uses links to pages as votes of importance for a page with authority hubs such as Wikipedia carrying more weight.
So for a small business what does this mean? Is my beautiful website, my pride and joy useless? Is it an expensive white (pink, blue or yellow) elephant? An ornament growing dust on an internet shelf? Perhaps!
A website has been to living breathing entity for engaging with current and potential customers. Firstly, the objectives for having a website need to be established, which must primarily be financial after a website is an investment both in terms of time and money. Then it needs to developed to satisfy these objectives. It needs monitored against the objectives, and maintained accordingly. In other words, you have a cycle of feedback and development.
Living here in Normandy, there are plenty of people with websites serving their small businesses. Unfortunately I suspect that most of these websites were created with the impression that once you have a website customers will arrive. Mostly these are websites that have been either self-created by the business owner or paid for with ill-afforded, hard-earned cash.
Most small business owner’s are too busy trying to stay afloat to be worrying about their website. Wrong; your website is your shop window! I am not saying a website is the be all and end all of your business. You still have to deliver to the customer.
However you wouldn’t buy from a dusty shop or stay in a long neglected hotel room with cracked toilet and leaking shower. Likewise a website copied from a friend or using an off the shelf templates is not likely to win many friends or orders.
When you are looking for somewhere to stay, or item to buy. You are more likely to buy from the person who engages you as are the client, displays passion for their product, and has up to date information about the what they are selling. Google research indicates that 78% of travellers search on-line before purchasing, in fact on average they search 8 times!
- So what to do? Build a website that is relevant to your business in the eyes of the search engines.
- How? It must……………
- contain key words entered in the users’ searches – well obviously or would they find you!
- be given credibility via it’s quality links from other sites – this is the hard one!
- be timely i.e. up to date information – that’s up to you!
- be fast – no large high-definition photos, this isn’t a glossy printed magazine!
- be “social” as in links or more commonly “likes” to Facebook, Twitter etc
- What next ? Bedtime! Time to sleep on it! Consider your next moves in other words.