Wrong Business myths can destroy hope : Focus on Google and it can kill you
When you are trying to run a profitable business; it is important to know what you should be doing but just as important is knowing “what not to do”.
Time and money you spend will not be returned unless it was spent wisely and you were able to make more back. There are all kinds of experts, giving you instant magic pills to successful websites but take things you hear with a couple pinches of salt.
If you really believe someone, do some quick research to make sure what you are hearing is valid. Frankly, there’s a lot of wrong stuff out there about how you should do business online and what makes a great business website.
Here are some things that are often presented as “common knowledge” that simply aren’t true. People push things, mainly because they have their own best interests in them. Which industry do you think is pushing the first myth below:
The “Pretty Design = Profitable” Myth
Design companies love telling people, “if your site does not look good, you are doomed”. Great looking web sites are not necessarily great business websites. Since designers have a vested interest in doing things to make your site look good, and since (they want to count the trees and eat the mangoes) this way they make money and work on new and innovative technology at the same time, they are likely to tell you that you need a good looking web site. Wrong!!
Your website must be built on two main objectives : your goals and your key visitor benefits. That means you need a website that works to deliver the answers and solutions your key visitors want in a way that helps you improve your business results. That means that functionality should come first and if you have the time and budget graphic design should come second.
Think about it, when was the last time you waited for more than 10 seconds for a site to open?
Heavy graphic design and fancy technology can slow things down to a crawl. If your site doesn’t load fast, another is just a click away and guess what, chances are high, that the visitor is not coming back again.
Plus there are more and more tools which are being used by experienced business web users, which allows them to prevent loading inline images in the first place. For them you need to make sure you have text tags on all your graphics. When the images don’t load, your pages won’t look like jumbles of little, unhelpful icons.
Don’t spend your money on fancy design, instead invest in information and technology that helps people find answers and solutions easily. Every person is looking to do business with people who are friendly, familiar and competent. You can help achieve that by focusing on a website that makes your pages load fast and is easy to use.
You “Got to Update Every Day and Keep It Entertaining” Myth
This one is being preached on social networks. Social media guys and social networks themselves publish all sorts of studies which tell people to update daily. Why wouldn’t they? It brings them repeat customers who spend lots of time on their websites.
When you hear these myths, they normally come separately. “You have to make sure your site or social profile is always fresh so people have a reason to come back” is one way you’ll hear it. The other way is, “Make it entertaining so folks have a reason to come back”. Wrong.
First, there is not a single user who will come to your site and stay there all day. Same holds true for your social profiles.
For your website, looking at your analytics, it will tell you where people are coming from, how much time they are spending and how often they come back. This alone will tell you that the keep it fresh myth is wrong.
To really put it in perspective, because this myth has a bit of truth in it, it is even more dangerous. The smart experts will tell you, “people will only keep re-visiting your site if they get value every time they come”. For news sites that means something new every time. For entertainment sites, that means entertainment. For most business sites, it means “information”.
Here’s the real deal. people will come to your site because they are looking for something. You can make your site worth coming back to if you provide lots of information that (pay attention to this) helps visitors answer a question or solve a problem.
If you have started your site right, you have been creating valuable content over an extended period of time. With this helpful information, the site will be “new and fresh” each time, because users will come with different questions and problems. No one has the time to read your entire site in a single day. When they come and if they come from the search engines, if they were looking for “how to start a Facebook page” yesterday, chances are high, they will be looking for something else today.
Should you keep adding new material? Absolutely! But it doesn’t have to be few times a day, make it really useful and if you add as little as a page a week, you’ll be adding 50 pages or more every year. Make sure it’s easy for people to get around and find things. Make sure there are lots of links. Every piece should end with, telling users the next logical piece they should be reading.
Last thing you should worry about is being entertaining. All my years of working on my own ventures and helping others succeed in getting experienced business users, no one has ever identified a site as valuable because it was entertaining. What all my business users tell me is that they want lots of relevant and useful information. Make what you add to your site relevant and useful and I’m sure they’ll keep coming back.
The Google Myth
Search engine optimization (SEO) experts from around the world are preaching this and so are the search engines. Why, because when you listen, they both make more money. The main myth here is that “you have to appear at the top of search engine to be a successful”. Wrong.
People will find your site in many different ways. They’ll use search engines. They’ll use social networks along with industry related indexes and directory sites. They’ll come via referral links and they’ll also use direct navigation to directly type your website name in the browser.
The most valuable source of traffic to any site is “Direct Navigation, also called type-in traffic”, those who type your site directly in the browser.
(There are ways you can increase your “type-in traffic” but that is a post on its own). They’ll type in your URL or have it on their bookmark/favorite places list. The very next best traffic is traffic which comes from an individual referral links (remember the old word of mouth strategy). Then come those index/directory sites, like associations from your industry. Search engines and social networks are last in line for quality.
No I am not saying that you ignore Google. There are two key things for search engine optimization:
- On page optimization
- Off page optimization
Make sure your site is built right so the on-page optimization is built in the DNA. This will help your visitors easily go from one link to the next useful link on your site, which is what the search engines are looking for also. But if you remember what type of traffic is important above and if you work on those types first, it will allow you to create valuable cyber footprints.
Search engines like Google call these footprints “back links”, which is one of the main criteria for off page optimization. More relevant industry related footprints you create, higher your rankings will be in the search engines. More social footprints you create, more traffic you will get from social networks and from the search engines.
Remember that visitors come to you to answer a question or solve a problem. They will be going to many places to find answers, if you are present where they might visit in their quest for a solution, chances are higher, they will end up on your site. And make sure your website address is on every bit of print and electronic material that goes out.
The “Going Global Is Easy” Myth
“The web has global reach, so your web site will enable you to go global easily.” Wrong.
When someone tells you, you should be on Facebook, it has more than billion users, who cares? What can those Billion users do for you?
Remember this: We are the animals of our habits, people are still people online. That means we all have different languages, cultures and business practices in different parts of the world. And, hey, here’s another hot research finding. Not everyone speaks English.
OK, I’m being a little facetious. But here is the key to remember, the language, culture and business practice vary from person to person and industry to industry. Just because anyone in the world with a web connection can view your site it doesn’t mean they will come rushing in, they must find it first. This is the reason you must forget the world and only pay attention to who your target market is, where are they located and which places on the internet they spend their time. If they are not on Facebook, doesn’t matter if the network has billion people, it has no use for you and you should not be spending your valuable time and money there.
You may one day go Global but you will reap more benefits by focusing on your target market and serving to their needs.
When Pret-a-manger started to open their sandwich shops in London, they found an interesting fact “most people don’t walk more than four blocks” to get a coffee or eat a sandwich.
They built their entire business model on that. They opened their second shop, four blocks away from their first and kept on expanding like that. People didn’t understand why they were opening their shops so close but how do you know they were right? Because they are now one of the biggest sandwich chains in the UK and you can’t go through London without seeing their name. They didn’t go global, actually they didn’t even go across town, they looked at four blocks at a time.
If you look at your business like that, find out what your customers need and deliver to them where they are right now, you may have the growth to go global one day. If you don’t follow a process of growth, chances are high, you will burn your time and money and throw in the towel.
Even the global giant, the worlds largest social network didn’t go global until many years later, Yes, Facebook initially focused just on Harvard students.
How do you avoid trouble?
Follow this three letter word, when putting your customers’ benefit on the forefront and follow these three set of factors that go into growing a business.
Strategic, tactical and operational factors relate to your business practice and strategy. This is where you define who your key visitors will be and objectives for the site.
You don’t win when you are actually playing in a game. The real win comes from, what you do, way before the game starts.
You have to have clear definitions and business objectives in order to be successful. You also have to have good people and processes. Only grow the team when you really need to and when the business can afford it. “Really need to” comes when you know, what the new member will be doing for eight hours a day.
As for the users, people usually will choose the known and familiar over the unknown or less familiar (even if you are new, you must become familiar in your domain as fast as you can). I will write another post on how to make sure people know who you are and what your business does. It will work even for those who are about to launch in the near future. Please use the form below and send me your details, I will let you know when my next post comes out.
People also choose ease over difficulty and pursue their own needs, wants and interests, build your venture with what they want in mind and you will have better chances of success.
Just use common sense to stay out of trouble with the dangerous myths above or with any other myths not listed here. The key is to stay focused on what you are doing all this for. Put your customers first, make your site easy to use and stay consistent – nothing can stop you from building a profitable web site.
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