Why simply building a website won’t make you successful online.
As an active member on several forums I often participate in discussions and reviews of website that aspiring entrepreneurs have launched – in some cases as a promotion tool for an offline business, and in other cases an attempt to create a business through the development of an ecommerce driven website.
I love helping out new and micro businesses online, but one thing I’ve been trying to get my head around lately (unsuccessfully) is how best to help people entering ultra-competitive niches online with tiny budgets and no SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or online marketing experience. In many cases there is also unfortunately not much of a business or marketing plan beyond “if I build a website that sell widgets, people will visit my website and like it and buy them and I’ll make money”.
Unfortunately the simple “if you build it they will come” simply isn’t true in most cases, and the “great e-commerce dream” can quickly turn into a nightmare. Once your website is complete it may seem like you have a achieved a lot – which you have – but the fun is really just starting.
“the great e-commerce dream can quickly turn into a nightmare”
To digress, If you have the advantage of being an established business in the “real world” and are looking to using your website as a tool, it can be sufficient simply just to have a website – you can put the address on your business cards, your display advertising, in your yellow pages advertisement (if you still have one!), sign write it on your vehicle, whatever. And if you are “known”, people might search for you by name, find you, learn more about you, find your contact info and go from there. This isn’t the most effective use of a website, but it’s not a failure either.
On other hand if you are a new business based online only, you don’t have the benefit of any brand recognition yet, and no one is searching specifically for you by name. So, to get customers you need to get people to your site first. That’s where things like search engine optimisation (SEO) to improve search rankings comes in, as can many other forms of online marketing.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace online I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that a new online business needs one or more of the following if each if they are to have any chance at succeeding:
1) A niche that has a good number of searches but isn’t very competitive.
2) Money to invest in a good search engine optimisation or online marketing specialist (pick me, pick me!) as well as on the implementation of the strategies developed.
3) A good understanding yourself or willingness to learn SEO and other online marketing strategies, and the time to put into implementing them.
The more competitive your niche the more effort that needs to go into your marketing strategies (usually including SEO), and if you have a very competitive niche and not much money you WILL need to learn a lot more about SEO and/or online marketing and do a lot of online marketing & SEO grunt work if your business is to succeed.
“The more competitive your niche the more effort that needs to go into your marketing strategies”
The learning curve can be steep, and there are few shortcuts. Uphill battle is probably putting it mildly. Don’t give up, but do work hard on your planning, get good advice, ensure you have sufficient capital to start, be realistic, be prepared for a lot of hard work, and never stop learning.