The World Wide Web is a fairly narcissistic sort of environment. Should you be looking for anything to do with the internet then simply using the word ‘web’ as a search term will see you drowned under a deluge of information of variable reliability and origin. The poor old arachnids hardly get a look in and yet they have been around for well over 400 million years and will still be here 400 million years after humanity has managed to wipe itself out. So, how do they keep plugging away in a remarkably successful fashion whereas many internet based enterprises flame and die within fractions of millisecond in comparison? The secret is in the words evolution and specialisation.
The internet is an incredible piece of engineering, designed first to help the military and then academia but now is supposed to serve us all. If only! My view is that it has morphed into an intelligence gathering operation on behalf of commerce rather than a source of enlightenment, education and communication. It is absolutely no surprise that the spooks have tapped into this rich vein of data and will continue to do so whatever our protests so we must use it with care and be aware that it belongs to all it’s users and not just global megacorps who would wish to channel us into methods of using it that suits them rather than you or me.
Along with the rise of social media sites there has been a decline in the importance of individual websites to small businesses. Large company’s and specialist online retailers will need an expansive and expensive web presence but their goals and the methods are completely different to a small enterprise without the resources or ambition to compete. Certainly in Ireland a website may indicate nothing more than you probably exist, but even that is not certain and most of your business will come by recommendation or reputation anyway. It is a feature of the culture here and I’ve no doubt many other close communities around the world, yet we are constantly bombarded by demands that we adopt marketing methods developed mainly in the States for an American way of life as if this one size will fit all, a rather blunt approach.
A few years back I taught myself a bit of HTML to build my own site and then did the same for some others but this petered out as CMS sites (templates) became more accessible, social media took off and, here’s the crunch, people started to question the need for a site altogether. For many people around here it adds very little to their client base and I can count on one hand the number of new customers my site brought me over the years. SEO is now a joke unless you can afford it so new ways have to be found to use the internet.
The first step is a complete change of mindset, visitors are not going to come to you via a search engine unless you are lucky and they are very specific and thorough in their search, we now have to go and attract them in. Don’t worry, I’m not going to run through the usual off the peg list of what can be done in this regard, but what I will do is draw your attention to the fact that your web hosting package should be able to supply visitor statistics, if not, consider changing it to one that does. These figures can tell you when your site was visited, how often, which pages were viewed and so on. How can a sales strategy be developed without this sort of feedback? Does Facebook provide it?
Last month I had 285 unique visitors to my site, a big improvement on February, It sounds pathetic I know, but if just 1% of those were editors of magazines that are relevant to what I can produce then that’s three potential customers looking at my stall, a big number in this game. I can put links to my site in various places and then assess the response by looking at the stats and I’ll even get some idea of how many people looked at this blog, although I don’t know who, which is as it should be from a privacy point of view. With this data to hand I can start to formulate some sort of plan for the website itself, making it more relevant and attractive to those I want to impress. Identifying and specialising in a niche is starting to show some return, as any spider will understand.
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