Speed Bumps on the Information Superhighway - Obstacles that are preventing you from realizing your Web potential.

by Tom Snyder on Apr 17, 2000

Last month we used this space to give you lots of new ideas for ways to make your Web presence more profitable for your company…helping both your top line and your bottom line. We’ve already heard from several of our clients who have begun to think about ways to use new and exciting functionality to help their business.

Despite the ever-changing technology, and all the improved extra stuff you can put in your Web presence, one rule remains just as important today as it did back in 1995 when I consulted with my first Web customer: Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come.

As much as we’d all like to think that the world is waiting with bated breath, watching daily for our new Web site, or improvements to our old one, the sad truth is they don’t care. That is, unless you give them a reason to care. And even then they still may not react with the response you’d like them to have.

So while we dedicate time and resources to adding features to our Web site, we shouldn’t expect it to magically attract excited throngs of people to our site all by itself, causing hundred dollar bills to suddenly start spewing from our floppy drives!

The good news is, that with some intelligent strategic planning, and some additional investment of time and resources in drawing people to your site, the end financial effect may be just as rewarding. The bad news is that, without it, your site will bring new meaning to the question “What if they gave a war and nobody came.”

If your company has recently had an IPO, and you have suddenly found yourself flush with millions of dollars, your job is easy… just throw your money at virtually every media outlet in the universe to promote your site. However, if you’re like the rest of us who need to spend our resources intelligently and economically, we’ll be faced with the obstacles the big guys won’t.

Search Engines

Despite the fact that we’ve covered search engines over and over in the past, telling you all about meta tags, visible text and entry pages, there is a harsh reality that we all must come to grips with. If you’re relying on high placement in the search engines as the sole promotional vehicle for your Web site, you might as well shut it down now.

I’m sure that sounds harsh, but here’s what you’re up against. The chances of your site coming up at the top of a keyword search for your desired keywords is questionable at best, and changing all the time. You can do everything correctly, and can submit your sites to the search engines regularly, and still not show up at all, much less at the top. See our sidebar for some of the reasons.

It’s becoming clear that having a budget to buy banners in every major search engine is the only way to guarantee that your site will come up at all. And so that’s what the companies with deep pockets do. So sites like Amazon.com and Ebay don’t need to give two hoots about how they come up in keyword searches in the search engines. Anyone who watches TV knows who Ameritrade is. But if you go Metacrawler.com (the search engine that searches all the search engines), and enter the phrase “online trading” they won’t come up in the list of results. However, you will more than likely see their banner at the top of page, because they paid Metacrawler to have their banner come up when that phrase is searched on. This late in the game, though, most keywords have already been bought. And the high costs associated with even the most basic strategy, makes it unrealistic for most smaller companies.

What’s a small guy to do? Don’t give up on the search engines altogether, but don’t rely on them exclusively either. Continue to strive for good placement (or have us do it for you). And while you may get frustrated over the things you can’t control, take full advantage over the things you can. For a list of those, refer to my post from November 1998. It’s over a year old, but it’s more true today than it was back then.

Even the big guys don’t just rely on the search engines (and banner strategies) for their promotion. They’ve got money to spend on the Media.


$2 million plus for an ad in the Super Bowl, and significant percentage of them were dot-coms. The majority of the spots on the national radio shows (Rush Limbaugh, Bruce Williams, NBA basketball, etc.) are for Internet related companies. Even one Milwaukee-based online mall spent over $75,000 on radio alone during the last holiday season. Extremely effective. Extremely expensive.

It’s a pretty safe bet that you won’t be running an ad in next year’s Super Bowl. But there are lots of other ways to put the media to work for you without breaking the bank. One of the best resources we know of for getting free or cheap media promotion is Joan Stewart. Joan is a former newspaper editor and reporter, and at her Publicity Hound Web site, she shares the secrets of how to do your own inexpensive self-promotion. Features include how to promote on a shoestring budget, advice from media people on how to get into their publications or onto their shows. Her newsletter provides information on the ways to promote your site (and your business)…what to do, and what not to.

But while tips like these can show you how to get media coverage without spending money, it will still require dedication and effort on your part to get the job done.

The theme here is that your Web site will not become successful by itself. It’s easier if you have lots of money (just about everything is). But not having tons of cash doesn’t automatically disqualify you from success. Smart, hard work will be the only chance you have.

But don’t give up. Obstacles have always been the gatekeepers to success. And with the Internet, the results are always worth the effort.

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