Anyone who has worked for or run a small business knows how hard it can be to get good marketing advice. Everyone from the high priced consultant to the guy you buy your laptop from has advice on how to get ahead online. Most of them are wrong. It can leave a small business owner so desperate for advice, they’ll take it from anyone. Even the guy sitting next to them on the plane…
This week, I happened to be “that guy.”
On a late night flight to Cleveland, I found myself sitting next to a woman and her young daughter. We were having a nice conversation when she mentioned she had started her own business but was frustrated with her website. Of course my ears perked up and my attention was captured. I’ve heard my fair share of stories of bad advice, but this woman’s story was right up there.
She spun a long tale of woe, recounting bits of advice she’d endured during her short career with this website. I sat amazed as she shared with me the advice she’d been given and the thing she’d been told to do.
I realized that many people offering advice about website marketing read an article or two and feel as though they have it all together. Others seem to be coming from plain ignorance. And the person who pays for the bad advice? The business owner, who is usually on a shoestring budget and just wants to run her business.She doesn’t have time for unfounded, groundless advice that could potentially destroy her business.
Unfortunately, I cannot educate those who feel that they know everything already. People who are well don’t need a doctor. But I can do everything in my power to be sure that small business owners have the information they need to correctly build and market their website. All they want are straight answers in a language they can understand.
Moving to GoDaddy
One consultant told her she needed to move her website to GoDaddy’s platform. She transferred the domain registration, her email accounts…everything. Unfortunately it took a few weeks of frustration before GoDaddy support realized she was Mac-based. GoDaddy’s sitebuilder program is incompatible with Mac OS. GoDaddy’s advice? Buy a PC. Needless to say, it took just as long to get everything off Godaddy and back to her original registrar as it did to transfer things over in the first place. The result? Countless hours and dollars wasted from really bad advice.
Search Engine Submission
The next thing she was told was to pay for a submission service to search engines. This is where I had to bite my lip to keep from exploding. No one has had to submit a site to the search engines since the year 2000. Search engines have programs called “spiders” that will find your website and download a copy of your site to their servers. Submitting your site to search engines is a thing of the past. It’s not necessary and usually a rip-off offer. $29.95 to submit your website to 100 search engines? Name six of them.
Search engines will naturally find your website. Read the Google guidelines. In fact, anyone who has anything to do with creating, programming, developing, and marketing a website should be made to read those guidelines. Search engines want your website, and they work hard to get it. Just by picking up a few links to your website, you can ensure that the search engines will find your pages.
Amazingly, all of the advice to this point was enough to make me scream out in frustration, but that wasn’t the best part. Her Mac guy, who helps her computer run smoothly, tells her that the “trick” to getting into Google . . . . wait for it . . . . is to register her domain for 10 years.
No wonder the internet is such a mystery, and business owners make what they think are good decisions based on advice, only to have zero results. With this kind of advice, zero result would be preferable to the lost hours and ill-spent money.
Registering your domain for a few years; whatever you think will make sense is the best advice I can give. There is an element of the algorithm that is debated about the length of time that it is registered. Anecdotal evidence suggests that domains registered for a year are not as reliable as domains registered for 10 years – based on the ideas that the owner has made a commitment to the domain.
I can understand that – it makes sense. However, this item alone is not the primary part of the algorithm! It is a very minor part, and there are so many other intricacies that are much more important than the years of domain registration that you purchase. Logically, if everyone went out and re-registered their domain for 10 years, what then? Who is most relevant?
The basis of website visibility in the search engines is your architecture, content, and incoming links. Those are the fundamental principles of building a website marketing strategy. Everything else supports these principles. The rest is details. For a small business owner, here are the basics:
- Build a site that is focused on your goal.
- Provide a clear goal for the visitor; contact form, phone number, clear directions.
- Write keyword-focused summaries about each page in the Page Title and Meta Description.
- Get website links from business associates, directories, local memberships.
. . . and then read the Google Webmaster Guidelines. I am surprised how many people have not seen this document. It is a true road map for any business owner who has questions about how your website should be built.
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