Site Visibility Should be a Governing Objective for Site Development
Most e-commerce projects treat web site design, programming and promotion as separate processes, occurring in sequence and handled by different groups of specialists.
This is, almost invariably, a recipe for disaster.
The approach does not merely ignore the interdependencies between the different stages, but it cumulatively exaggerates the ignorance and distortion particular to each specialist group.
Designers Rarely Understand the Technologies they Use
Despite their ridiculous claims, very few designers have the slightest clue about how to design a web site whose functions are visible to search engines and directories, or even to individual users sometimes.
In hushed tones they will reveal the ‘secrets’ of meta tags. These are bits of code at the top of a web page file, which describe its contents to other computers, but are hidden from users by the web browser.
Designers will tell you about ‘cunning’ strategies to stuff these meta tags with keywords describing your business and your competitors’ products.
They typically ‘forget’ to mention that:
- Many modern search engine ranking systems simply ignore meta tags, preferring to judge the value of a site from the text which is visible to users — largely because of past meta data abuse.
- All your competitors are doing exactly the same thing, with the net result that everyone cancels each other out and no advantage is gained — this is the necessary masquerading as sufficient.
- Search engines can’t understand or record any of the meanings contained in images, sounds and animations — any information you express in this way is only visible to people who have already found your site (Doh!)
Web Programming: Crippled by Design and Oblivious to Business
Few e-commerce projects employ good programmers — they’re wrongly considered an expensive luxury, rarer than designers and less important than promotional experts in the marketing department.
This too is fatal to site visibility.
Relying on designers and their off-the-shelf packages, deprives you of the competition killing techniques which clever programmers can build into your web site software.
One good programmer with the freedom to write bespoke software, and detailed knowledge of your business, can render your site so visible that it knocks your compeitors completely out of the picture.
Sadly, none of these three conditions is easily met:
- Good programmers are rarer than hen’s teeth — GBdirect is indeed fortunate to have so many.
- Graphic and multimedia site designs can make it utterly impossible to apply software visibility techniques.
- Few technicians are interested enough in, or encouraged enough, to participate in the commercial activities they need to understand in order to develop good promotional software.
Mainstream PR/Marketing Still Shows Few Signs of Web Literacy
Handing a web site promotion campaign to a conventional PR specialist can be a complete waste of the marketing budget.
Even a business-ignorant techie, or a technically ignorant designer, is likely to have more idea about how to exploit the Internet’s technical and social wrinkles for commercial advantage.
With a healthy dollop of Internet education, however, salespeople who are skilled at promoting their companies through social networks, personal relationships and word-of-mouth publishing, can adapt to the Web’s unique marketing conditions. They do at least start with a better understanding of networking than their cousins in publishing and broadcast oriented public relations.
Unfortunately, even a web-savvy publicist can be crippled before they start. Bad site design can disable socially based website promotion techniques just as successfully as it can disable software-based visibility tricks.
For example, advertising your web site on TV could get you millions of new visitors for as long as the campaign lasts. When it’s over, however, the only enduring value in the marketing spend will come from an ever diminishing number of return visitors.
Spending a tiny fraction of that money on securing permanent web links to your site, can bring you hundreds of thousands of new buyers (not merely browsers) every day for an indefinite period of time.