Category Archives: Weblogs

Why Every Website Needs a Search Engine

Very useful suggestions Friday with Why Every Website Needs a Search Engine on Small Business Technology. I like the practical advice:

Convert visitors into business. Research firm MarketingSherpa released results of a study that found that visitors who used site search were three times more likely to convert than those who didn’t. Their research also showed 43% of site visitors went directly to the search box when visiting a website.

Gather data on visitors. By using the right tool, site search can provide valuable insight into your visitors. You can use these search terms to determine what information your visitors are seeking, which can help redirect your future marketing efforts.

Increase retention. Research shows the average visitor spends eight seconds on a site before clicking away. A search engine allows them to get where they are going quickly, increasing the chance they’ll find what they’re looking for before they leave.

The post, written by Stephanie Farries, specifically recommends SLI Systems for this. I also did this google search to get a list of free and not-so-free website search engines.

3 Tech Benefits and 1 Threat for Guru Businesses

By guru business I mean the expert business, and particularly the one-person expert business. I mean consultant, coach, adviser, researcher, business hired gun, life coach, trainer, and so on.  I mean a person who makes a living by selling (real or imagined) expertise, experience, and knowledge.

magnifying glassI was a business planning consultant for most of the 1980s and early 1990s, working almost always alone, just myself, no company. So that’s an example of an expert business. And I’ve been thinking lately about how much social media has changed that business model for the better. In this case – but with one notable exception – change is good.

Benefit 1: Marketing your expertise is way easier

There is a new way of marketing that is so much better than the old way. Call it the Web, social media, blogs, Twitter, or the combination; it means way more reach, automatically, if you do it right.

Consider the comparison, now vs. then: I lit out on my own as a business planning and market research expert in 1983. I had my credentials, of course, including academic degrees and a fancy title with a brand-name consulting company, plus some published works. But how did I make myself known? Word of mouth from clients who’d worked with me as an employee, yes. But from there it was a struggle to get my articles into magazines, my self onto the podium at the big trade shows (such as Comdex), and to finish a couple of published books on my main subject matter.

Today, in comparison, successful experts build their business by a combination of useful blog posts, active mini-blogging on Twitter, ebooks, and work with Facebook and LinkedIn. Do you see the pattern there? The gatekeepers are gone.

Where it used to be important to validate your expertise by getting through the gatekeepers in corporate branding and publishing, nowadays can’t you validate your expertise by making good sense on your blog? Believe me, that’s so much easier than the old way of publishing, speaking, and giving seminars.

Benefit 2: Acceptance is based on expertise more than setting

I posted this related thought on this blog Tuesday, about how clients can get better value from a one-person business with no overhead. Who does the work? The client is much more likely today, compared to 20 years ago, to accept and even approve of the fact that you’re on your own. Not having a company around you is no longer cause to wonder what’s wrong with you.

Benefit 3: With gatekeepers devalued, it’s the work that matters

And then there’s this last thought, which I hope is true: today we judge experts by their work, meaning their writing and speaking (and tweeting), much more than we used to. Today an expert’s work is more immediately available, and with less distortion through gatekeeper filters, than ever before. Isn’t it?

How do you evaluate a guru ahead of time? Usually the about page and the content of the blog. There’s less interference there. Back when I started, it took getting through magazine editors to get published, or event managers to get a podium, or joining or creating a company.

Do you frown on an ebook because it wasn’t published by a name-brand publisher? Do you mistrust a blog because it isn’t in a major business publication? Not so much. Am I right?

And the warning?

The bad news is the other side of the good news: It’s the work that matters. Today you have to either do good work or settle for clients you can fool. It was easier back then to hide mediocre work with a company around you, or an editor of a magazine to rewrite it. Today, if you claim to be an expert, you’d better create some content to back that up. Transparency is cool when it’s a bright and beautiful looking glass that highlights and spotlights you. It’s not so nice when it’s a magnifying glass that’s going to burn you like an ant in the backyard on a hot summer day.

(Image: Freshpaint/Shutterstock)

Does Twitter Matter? Can It Possibly Last?

Yes, I think it does matter. And no, although it won’t last, not like it is now, it is the beginning of something that will last, but will be changing a lot. I could say the same about personal computing, the Web, and blogging.

Twitter is all the rage because it hit fertile ground. People like it, people use it, and because what it does catches us. The key to it is something related to publishing and broadcasting. It’s why I like writing this blog, why you like writing your blog, and why both of us read each other’s.

It’s related to instincts deeply embedded in our human nature.

Image by Carla16 on Flickr

Image by Carla16 on Flickr

The first of these is expression. When nothing else was possible, people drew on cave walls. That was about expression. So is telling stories, reciting  poems, and singing songs. It’s in our nature. We crave expression.

The second is curiosity. We want to see the pictures, hear the stories, know what’s up, and what’s going on.

And then, beyond these two basic instincts, there’s how much we like gathering, and shows, entertainment, and keeping up with each other.

All of which happens on Twitter. It’s not email, it’s not blogging, it’s publishing in 140-character pieces. Do it well and you have more people reading what you publish. Do it poorly and you have nobody reading what you publish. Make it interesting, informative, or funny and it’s good to do and people will follow. Use it to sell stuff or whine or share trivial life details and people will stop following. Use it to push sales talk at people and they will stop following.

Which–the click to follow or not–is the clincher, in my opinion, that makes Twitter more significant. I’ve seen some very interesting musings on Twitter’s future, such as Jeff Sexton’s piece asking is Twitter is digging its own ditch?  He says some of the Web’s bright and shiny new things (he mentions Digg and Technorati) burst on the scene, become popular, and then got manipulated, declined. The classic pattern is email with spam now killing it. He asks whether that might happen to Twitter.

And I think not. Because of both sides of the coin: the instinctive allure of posting like this, and reading the good posts, which is one side; and the ability to click and unfollow people, which is the other.

So please, follow me on Twitter: click here.