Danny 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 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.