Knowing whether to build a templated website or an SEO-enabled templated website for your small business - Part 1 of 2

April 01, 2021

By:  John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
Bakersfield Bizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC

We now live in an interesting decade where the creation of a company website, once relegated to only the most skilled HTML programmers, is available today to anyone with a computer and just a small amount of technical savvy. You are just a few clicks away from YouTube where you can find a million hours of content on "how to build a Wordpress" site, and for those who are brave, "how to build a Wordpress site in five minutes". The same is true for e-commerce. If you are selling a widget or a doodad, you do not even need a website. You can start up an Amazon Store, Square, or Wix store in minutes, literally.

These solutions are ideal for most retail businesses, but too often people blur the lines between [selling goods] (B2c) and [selling services and goods business-to-business] (B2b). For the private hairstylist, or the part-time person selling used purses or cameras, I often recommend they use an already established service provider like Amazon or Wix. Why reinvent the wheel, right? That said, the situation is considerably different for B2b, so for this article, we are going to focus on what these types of companies need to succeed with their online presence.

Way back in the early 1990s, websites were novel. I remember building a website for a title company in Austin… and it was the only website available in that space in the entire city. The - entire - city! If you did a search for "title insurance", and you were in Austin, the company website was on page 1, position 1, on every search engine… every time, and we did not spend a single second on SEO (which did not even exist at the time). That site remained in the top-ranking #1 position for three years until other companies finally realized what they were missing and, as a result, launched their own websites into the marketplace. This was the early 1990's when HTML 1.0 was the flavor of choice for most programmers, and by 1995, many companies were clamoring to design and build a website and carve out their position in that strange new marketplace everyone called the Internet. I remember those days well, building company websites with 7-10 pages and a few contact forms. It was a simpler time and decision points were less complex. Today, the Internet is a vast ocean of code, tens of millions of websites and web applications in the US alone, and like most technology, the decision points have become more complex and with far greater implications.

If you are a small business owner or a start-up who has never had a website, you have to make some big decisions early, but before you can make any of these, you must have pre-defined your web presence goals. Is your site going to act solely as a brochure site where you can direct people to go to get more information, or is your goal to create a site that ranks on page 1 of the search engine search results, or further still, is your goal to become the number 1 ranked site in your market specialization in the specific city or town you live in? Too often, small businesses believe (wrongly) that after registering their site on the different search engines, or after running a short Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign, their sites will rank higher on the top 5 search engines. It will not. Yes, you might be able to run a PPC campaign and start driving more immediate traffic to your site, but at what costs, and after you stop your PPC campaign, your search traffic stops as well.

Back in April and May of 2016, Google announced they would begin giving preferential placement treatment to websites that (a) were SSL enabled and (b) were responsive, meaning that people could receive the same user experience, whether on a mobile device, laptop, tablet or computer, and those same rules remain in effect today, with caveats. This created an avalanche of companies scrambling to "redo" their websites, so they did not lose their search ranking positions. Starting now (in Q2 2021), Google is taking the next big leap by focusing on what Google calls its "user experience". So, what at first appears to be a few simple decisions becomes increasingly more complex, and the more you know, the more variables enter into the equation.

To better understand what is in play, let us pretend I own a small B2b business today, say for a real estate appraisal company. Now assume that the head of marketing for our fictitious appraisal company comes to me and says, "Hey John, our company website is stale and needs a complete facelift". With that stated goal in mind, here is what I would do, knowing what I know.

First, I would contact some of our current and past customers and ask them how they first located our company. Did they find us through Facebook, or maybe they were on LinkedIn? Maybe they found us through an Internet search on Google, or Bing or DuckDuckGo, or maybe they found us on a video we posted on YouTube, or a guest blog post on a local real estate school website. Most small business owners assume that consumers find them exclusively through Google searches, and although Google dominates 87% of the world's search traffic, there are other marketing channels, so, that assumption is not always 100% true. For argument's sake, let us assume that a majority of our customers tell us they found us using a Google search.

Next, I would create a two-pronged marketing strategy. The first is implementing a plan that ensures my fictitious appraisal company website can be found by all the major search engines, or what is more commonly referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The second is developing a content marketing strategy that delivers information people want to read and consume. There is a third option called "Local Search", a key topic of conversation, but one we will cover in a different article. That said, the line between SEO and Content Marketing is blurring, especially as both are highly dependent on one another to succeed.

In Part 2 of this series, we will dive into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Content Marketing Optimization (CMO) for your project.

Click this link to continue reading.

Share On