Web Design and SEO
There is a huge problem that exists in the web design and SEO communities. We know our services are in demand, and, like every other business, are looking for the best paying and highest profile clients. There is nothing wrong with showing off your design trophies. In contrast, there is the fact that about 80 percent of all businesses are small businesses who do not have the financial resources or the high profile brand names that will attract quality web designers. This mismatch has a number of long term problems associated with it, even though they are not obvious at the moment.
Problem One – Loss of Competition
The mantra spoken across the Web is that if you do not have a web presence then for all practical purposes you do not exist. This is an overstatement in some ways, because the way business is done is these places is by recognizing familiar faces. There is a small town mentality that is suspicious of strangers, out-of-towners, and large corporations – the latter of who are of special interest to those of us who have dreams of becoming one ourselves. For these businesses, an Internet presence may be trendy but not essential.
For the majority of small businesses, a web presence is essential just to remain competitive. One reason is the Google search engine which makes products and services available to anyone from anywhere in the world. You do not even have to be a user of the Internet to have heard about Amazon. The problem for the business, and the web designing community, is how to create a bridge that will allow these small businesses to remain competitive.
Why? Because if the number of small businesses begins to decline, so will the competiveness of the individual industry. Think of how a decade ago there was considerable competition in Office Suite application software, and now there are basically two very similar choices – take it or leave it. Users can complain, but no rationale person will try to go head-to-head with Microsoft or Google.
Now this may not be an immediate concern for web designers given that so many mid and large size businesses are going through SEO processes and redesigning their web sites. For experienced web designers there is plenty of work to go around. But it is impractical on many levels to ignore these smaller businesses because they do not have the financial resources to keep up with the Intel’s and Microsoft’s of the world.
Problem Two – Loss of Opportunity
The problem that coincides with a fading competition is the loss of opportunity for web design businesses. One of the first rules of a startup business is to get a few clients, excel in your performance and delivery times, and use these businesses as a reference to build your business for the long term. Don’t you think these small businesses have the exact same mentality? If you have been in business for some time, it is unlikely you have forgotten your first dollar made – or your first client.
Promoting small businesses to remain competitive will not only open doors for future opportunities, but will solidify your reputation in the industry. If you have chosen an expanding industry as your target audience, then you are keenly aware of the possibilities. As technology has advanced and the marketplace has become global, there are two events that have occurred in the business climate.
The first is that there are new industries popping up all over the world. The idea of going to a web site and advancing money for a microloan was only an idea 5 years ago. Epson has developed a new type of printer that uses an ink tank (called EcoTank for the environmentally incined) instead of individual ink cartridges.
On the other hand, industries that once were in demand and profitable have collapsed, never to be seen again. A current trend where this is happening is in the music industry, where CD sales are shrinking, and music artists are developing their own web sites to sell their music in downloadable formats. You can add streaming, YouTube, and environmental concerns to the mix of forces that are likely to doom the CD.
New products and new companies translate into a demand for new and redesigned web sites that will require web designers. Courting small businesses is not rocket science, but simply good business. Presuming the opportunities will always be there is not a solid or comprehensive business plan.
Take a Page from the Professionals
Lawyers are one of the first groups that come to mind when the words “pro bono” appear. The reason is that there is a belief that everyone is entitled to legal representation when it involves accusations of criminal actions. The intent, though hardly the reality, is that it creates a reasonable level playing field.
Web designers can do better. We have the ability to put our profit motives on hold for a short time to turn our attention to gaining some goodwill and taking a broader view of what we do for a living. The success of any business depends on the future demand of its products and services. If web designers believe their profession will be needed as long as there is an Internet, then taking a small amount of time to invest in that future is a small price to pay.
The bottom line from a business perspective and a profit perspective is to begin to look at small business web design the way 100 pennies still equals 1 dollar. You may not make the money as fast, but you will build your client base, which may be especially important in the long term. Web designers are used to creating calls-to-action, but the SEO reality is that unless those clicks translate to sales, the SEO process needs to be improved. A responsible goal is to increase the conversion rate, and that will increase the bottom line.