Search Guru Laments Small Business Web Practices

Danny Sullivan Looks at Some Examples

Danny SullivanDanny Sullivan has posted a very intriguing article at Search Engine Land regarding small businesses and search. For those of you who don’t know who Danny Sullivan is (and it’s clear that many small business owners have no idea), he’s one of the most influential figures in the search industry. He runs Search Engine Land, and the SMX Conferences. For some background on him, check his Wikipedia page.

To make his long story short, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to search. So when he talks about how small businesses are faring in the industry, small business owners should pay attention. Search engines are one of the most important marketing tools you have. Everybody uses them.

Danny’s Stories

Danny talks about his recent move from Europe to California, and all of the things he found that he ended up searching for as he got settled in. He tells the story about trying to get some pizza and coming across the site for a local pizza joint that ranked well for his query, but when he got to the site, all he found was a malware message, indicating that the business had not been taking very good care of their site. "Trying to help, I even called and explained that something really bad was happening with the site," says Danny. "I was told the owner would call back. I didn’t think he would, nor did he." Danny also noted that the town where this took place is a big tourist town, and would likely cater to a lot of pizza eaters who would be using search engines to find places to eat.

He then tells a similar tale about a locksmith whose site was "not found", but whose domain went to a holding page from a yellow pages company. They had even created a second site for the company, but told Danny that they intended to get the other one back as well. Danny laments, "The things I wanted to ask. Why did you ever build your business around a domain you didn’t control? Why isn’t your developer doing everything possible right now to get that domain back? Can you get the hosting company to do a temporary redirect for a fee over to your holding site? How are you going to handle the aftermath of building up two different sites for your business? Will you redirect the temporary one back to the main one after you get control of that?"

He left his email address with them along with an offer to talk to their developer free of charge. They did not contact him. It’s astonishing to think that these two businesses who clearly have troubles with their online presences were offered free consultation from THE Danny Sullivan and did not even take the time to get back to him. Meanwhile, I assume that their sites are still in their same respective situations.

The lessons to be learned from Danny’s stories are:

1. If you’re not taking care of your online presence, you will lose business.

2. If Danny Sullivan offers you free advice for your website, you should at least hear him out.

There are 10 Comments. Add Yours.
  1. I too have a similar story to Danny’s.  I found some things that are just completely baffling me.  I can not imagine how these businesses could do what they are doing.

    A few weeks back I received one of the bulk mailer packs. You know the envelopes that have a stack of about 20 – 30 ads in them.

    I went through all the ads and pulled out the ones that did not have a website shown in their ad so that I could contact the business owners about developing a website for there small business.

    The first thing that I found was that several of these sites did in fact have very good websites.  But yet they did not tell anyone about them in their ad.  These businesses were missing a huge chance to make contact with potential customers.   If they mentioned their website in the ad, and then captured visitors email addresses once they came to the site, they could have continued to market to these people long after the print ad was in the trash.

    The next thing I found blew my mind.  In this one mailing I came across 5 ads that mentioned the companies website, but the site itself did not exist or wouldn’t come up.  They paid a whole lot of money for the ads, but didn’t even think to check their website.

    The final site was the icing on the cake.  It was an ad for a home remodeling company.  The website was advertised.  Only problem was, the website was actually the site of a competitor of theirs.  The domain name was sort of kind of similar, and the ad got it wrong.

    A small business website can be a very economical way to reach future customers or clients. Give them something of value when they get to the site in exchange for their email address so that you can stay in contact with them.  Use the site to entice your visitors into contacting you for more information.   Just be sure that you check to see that it is up and running before you go and advertise it to the whole world.

    Bruce McClellan

    http://www.FasterDigital.com

    Small Business Websites that Work

  2. That’s great advice, and things that all business owners should keep in mind. I have to agree with the person who said that SEO is extremely confusing. Things change so often and so much that it’s hard to keep track of what will actually be good methods of search engine optimization.

    However, the advice offered by one poster about keeping your layout and design engaging and user friendly and updating your content often is something that anyone can, and should, do and doesn’t cost that much. Keeping fresh, relevent content on your sites does help with SEO and engages website visitors, keeping them coming back for more.

    Bruce W. Coffman,

    Coffman Communications

  3. I come across so many business owners that would happily spend thousands in print ads, yet won’t even invest in cleaning up their website.  I don’t think that the mindset of many of these small business owners is going to change anytime soon.  Sadly the internet which is geared at offering the small "mom and pop" stores even footing with the big guys is beyond the grasp of these same "mom and pop" owners.

    Ignorance may be bliss… but free traffic from the search engines saves money and time.  Perhaps being able to sit on a beach a little longer each year could be more blissful?

  4. Yes Danny you are right if you don’n take care of your business daily then it will not expand.

    You must also always be there to support you downline, subscribers or refarels.

  5. PocketSquareZ com

    Perhaps those two persons are like me. Everything I read about search engines and how to get high ratings confuses me.  Is there a book, like search engines for dummys on how to get their site noticed or marketed without breaking the bank?

    Any ideas I am lost.

  6. Need Some Help

    Hi, I agree that you do need to take care of your business to ensure that it does well `ahead of others, but I would like you to tell me that, is it a good idea to have your original domain resumed in case you have created two sites or should you leave the original domain as it is and try and improve the new one?

    Plz reply..

    Thank You,

  7. If I did checks on every person that calls, email, or mails me something. I could almost do that full time.

    Likely the business owners didn’t know who Danny was, and didn’t think their website was very important. Their loss, but still understandable. It has only been a relatively short time (5-7 years) where there has been much need for small businesses to have website, almost all of their new business came from other advertisement.

    It’s only recently that there has been a strong need for internet advertisement and a lot of the small businesses are slow to catch up with trends.

  8. Most business owners fail to realize that the web represents a new distribution channel and properly utilized can sometimes outproduce their brick and mortar operations. To them it’s like a business card; you know; maybe update it every 10 years or so!

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