SEO & Common Business Sense

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a conversation with someone about some of the things I did. I told him that one of my careers was being an internet marketing consultant for small businesses. He of course asked me what I meant, and I told him.

At that point he said “I have a website, but I’ve never done anything with it, and it hasn’t done anything for me.”

I said “Well, if you haven’t done anything with it, what were you expecting it do for you?”

He said “I don’t know; I thought I’d have people calling me for business, but it’s never happened.”

This is very common in business across the board, but especially for small businesses. I do okay with my main business website, and I’ve at least gotten some work through my SEO, though I’m working on things, as I talked about in my posts on my update (which, by the way, I hope you saw my last comment on, which mention that things may have gone better than I’d thought). I asked him if we could take a look at his website, and since we were in a place with internet access, we did.

I looked at his site, then I asked him what he did, though I knew what he did. He said “I offer business solutions for people and help them solve their efficiency issues.”

I said “No, that’s a result of what you do. What do you do?”

He thought about it for a moment, then told me exactly what he did. I asked him where that was on his main page, and he looked; nowhere. I asked him where he did his business, and where was it on the site; nowhere. We pulled up my main business site for comparison; with some stuff hidden, since I’m not in advertising mode for that business today, I showed him my first line: “XXXXX, is a health care revenue cycle and management consulting company based in Syracuse, NY.”

Right from the beginning, you know my business name, which, of course, is in the top logo. One should always put it into their content on their main site because search engines can’t read images. You know exactly what I do if you’re in my industry and are looking at the site; if you’re not in health care this means nothing to you, but at least you know. And you know where I’m based, which many businesses omit. Sometimes it’s contained on the contact page, which you know I hate; I’m going to have to write an article on that one of these days.

We looked at a couple more pages, and he was starting to get the picture. I told him this was a free consultation, but to mention it to friends and other business owners if he got something out of it. After all, I need to get the word spread on what I do for local businesses.

The thing is, this can be perceived as just SEO stuff to help someone’s search position on the internet. Sure, it’s a part of that, but in reality, this is a business concept. If you don’t tell people what you do, then they won’t know. If people have to drag it out of you, then things may never get to that point, and they’ll never know if they could have used your services. This happens at networking meetings, and it happens with websites.

It’s probably the reason why I hate most sales pages I see online. Sometimes you read what could be 5 to 10 pages of sales stuff, and never get to just what the product is for. Sometimes you only have a few words, and you either get a video that usually says nothing or you’re being asked for your name and email address so you can receive some report.

Once again, not selling (as proven by no link here), but on the site with my website marketing book, I first ask the probing questions (which is also a good way to handle advertising; find the pain), show the product, then tell exactly what it is. After that, I use some testimonials and the like, but I get to the point immediately. If that doesn’t intrigue people, then nothing else I saw is going to be seen; if it does, then the rest may help to enhance the sale.

Take another look at your website, if you have a business site other than your blog, and see if you’re really telling people what you do, and how soon. Who knows, it could help increase your business overall.

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11 comments on “SEO & Common Business Sense

  • I have had a similar problem on some sites… I search for something on Google, find their site, but when I get to reading through the site, I can’t find what I was originally looking for. It’s like searching “vintage jeans” and not finding a single picture on the website related to that.

    I think that every page on a business’ website should have some obvious statement of their main purpose. Because you never know where people may come in, and then subsequently leave, because they couldn’t find out what brought them there in the first place.

    ~ Kristi

    • Great points, Kristi. We can work to figure it out, but we shouldn’t have to if some folks just made sure they told people what it is they do.

  • I come across all too frequently, especially with website owners that want their website to be a “business card” for their offline business, and in order to make a good first impression they spend loads of money on a flashy impressive design but don´t put any effort into making the website high in functionality for their visitors… a real shame…

    Mirjam´s last blog post..The Ugly Beast that Kills Business – Does IT Kill Yours?

    • Absolutely right, Mirjam. You don’t know what they do, you can’t contact them,… I also keep telling folks that unless they’re a major company NOT to have something start playing when people visit the site. That irks the stew out of me.

  • Edward@Vancouver Web Design says:

    its true that you need to explain people
    what you do and how you do it helps increasing sales a lot . I always request my clients to ask me as many questions as possible. it helps me earning their confidence and also they become aware of the process and it makes easy for me to work for them after they have no doubts about my work

    • Good way to go, Edward, but what about up front, with your website? Do you get to the point early? Then again, a company with the name “unlimited webdesigns” doesn’t leave much interpretation to chance. 🙂

      • Good point, Dennis. I think there has to be at least some kind of symbiosis between the designer and the client to try to determine what the client really wants. And if neither one is a writer, there’s plenty of people who can help them with it. But the initial business stuff,… that should be a no-brainer, but it’s often not.

  • Hey Mitch,
    Great post! I think it is very common for new websites to suffer from two things:
    1. If I build it, they will come.
    2. Assuming people know what I do.
    But with millions of websites out there, it is very unlikely that people will just happen to stumble across your site, unless you optimize and promote it. And if they do, they won’t stay unless you tell them what you do and how you can help them.
    If all I saw was “business solutions” I would yawn and click away. No offense meant, but what the heck does that mean?
    ~ Steve, the trade show guru

    Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..The Dirty Little Secret to Designing Great Trade Show Exhibits

    • You’re absolutely right, Steve. My friend has changed at least the first page and it better tells what he does now; thank goodness!

  • Well, Mitch. It’s very easy to build up your own website, but the hardest thing is keeping the traffic flowing to the website!

    After you’ve created the website/blog, you didn’t just sit there and waiting for the people to knock on your door! Instead, you should figure out the effective ways to keep attracting more potential customers to your website.

    Remember that hard works pay off, and just like the old saying, “What comes around, goes around”…

    • Very good point, Wil, but there’s always those first steps everyone needs to take before even thinking about bringing people to your site. The search engines will help a great deal if you take care of those details first, but of course the work isn’t done at that point.

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