Website Design, Development and SEO
In a Nutshell
Web development encompasses an array of functions for content management on the internet. Small business owners often understand only the narrowest functionality. This piece is written from one small business owner to others to help them understand the true value of one of the major functions: search engine marketing.
Many businesses cannot survive today without an effective search engine strategy. Yet far too often, the owners think no further than the appearance of their website. This thinking can be fatal.
Web Design: The Architect
I had some interesting dialogue with a search professional recently. I was trying to articulate my frustrations with business owners failing to understand the relative value of search marketing, of SEO, compared with website design. I tried to come up with a good analogy.
I'm not sure I perfected it, but the analogy I gave was of a website designer as an architect, and a search professionals as property managers. After all, who would ever pay an architect to design a commercial-use building and build it out, but then do nothing to market or manage it thereafter?
If you need to generate income from a commercial property, you have to rent out space, or at least market the products you have for sale within that space. Good business people who own real estate, are always on top of the importance of the marketing it takes to generate income from the property they own.
But that's not always so with respect to virtual real estate, i.e. the IP address where you website is located. So, why is there a disconnect?
Generating Income from the Web
It's very important to recognize that the most attractive, well designed site on the internet can generate little or no income whatsoever.
Have you ever been through a high end, boutique marketplace full of adorable, little shops? Have you noticed that in many of these settings, few if any of the shops make enough money to stay in business for very long? Unless an owner can afford to treat it as a hobby, any given retailer is likely to roll in and out of a space within a single business cycle.
What is going on there? The problem is that there isn't enough traffic coming through the stores to sustain the business. It's a problem that is very much akin to the problem on the internet. It does not matter what a fabulous, and unique merchandiser you are if you have no customers to sell to.
But the beauty of the internet is that you can bring the customers to you, and the tools are right at your fingertips to accomplish this task. That is what search marketing is all about, and it is very different from web design.
Yes, it's true that high end, full service, web developers (who are more than just designers), provide SEO services along with design, database creation, etc. - but this is still a step short of search marketing.
If you are in the clothing business, it may do you little good to rank #1 on Google in a search for "clothing", especially if you specialize in anything, say, maternity wear for example. Search marketing brings the very important expertise of matching your optimization to the clientele you need to attract.
I referenced a dialogue at the beginning of this post. The gentleman with whom I had that dialogue referred to himself as a "search evangelist". Perhaps I'm a bit of the same. I want to see small businesses succeed. Evangelizing this concept is very important in helping small business owners who need this expertise.