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August 28, 2007

The Blind and the Wind, or, Why Many E-Businesses Still Struggle to Survive

Once upon a time things were easy online. A website was just a company presentation, something placed on the Web for people to see “just in case.” Web design was born but there was not too much fuss about the how and the why.

There were no standards, no branding principles, people made their own sites, there was no one there to say: your site doesn’t validate, or your site is not accessible.

There was no real danger for a lawsuit… There were not so many copyright infringements, and no one really had to spend thousands on optimization, dynamic website building tools and so on.

The web world was at its dawn. There was harmony and peace.

The Birth of a Giant

But one day, a little search engine was born. It was not the first, but from the start it showed that it was special. It started its life modestly, in a little place called Menlo Park, but soon after its birth, it changed the Web with its super powers.

Google meant the end of web harmony.

With Google the search fever brought some new professions on the market: SEO, SEM, online marketing. And the Web evolved around Google, like the Earth around the Sun.

Soon webtrepreneur turned against webtrepreneur, web design needed to change to become Google friendly (or SEO friendly as we like to say), standards need to be traced to tame the storm, to keep the Web madness under control (to maintain the Web accessible for all). But the struggle for a good position on the Web becomes more difficult each day.

SEO or Bust

The Web realities are simple: either you are in Google or you are nothing. Do SEO or fail.

Take my word for it: even world brands like eBay, MySpace, digg and so on once needed (and some still do) a good location on Google’s main index. It’s true that they are web-entities on their own, but at their dawn they needed Google rankings as much as any other fresh site. They did optimize for Google and the other search engines.

Now they have their own authority and their own faithful users. Yet there was a time, once upon a time, when they needed to make their mark and back then they’ve got their share of Google love…

Google was not the only change, but the cause of all the changes. And if you don’t like it that I place the search sovereign as the Alpha of the new Web, then call it whatever you like.

Eliminate Google of the equation and try to imagine the Web without Google. Where would you be? What would your web positioning be? Would you rely on a different search engine? Probably on Yahoo!?

Embrace the Wind, Face the Change, Accept the Challenge

Many small companies still don’t understand that the Web is changing each day, because Google caused the search storm, because Google is now the mountain all try to turn over, the Titan they want to enchain.

And the wind is getting stronger and people still don’t see a basic truth: why is there so much struggle to “kill” Google? Why the challenge? Because everything revolves around Google. It still does and it will still be revolving for a while.

Looking at Google we have a lot to learn: we see a great company with amazing marketing skills, with stunning ideas and the power to reach for the stars. And the most amazing part is that Google does this not by forcing you into buying its products and services directly, but by conquering all possible fields and industries and giving you no other choice but to accept its presence.

* Google partnered with NASA. * Google will build artificial intelligence. * Google shows you your own home in its Google Maps results. * Google builds up a Web phone. * Google gives you the possibility to create and organize documents and PowerPoint presentations for free.

You get an almost unlimited number of free tools to manage your online business but unless you invest in the real deal (SEO, SEM, SMO and PPC) Google will not give you for free the most important gift: a place at the top of its SERPs.

Don’t relate “invest” solely with money. There are more ways to pay: time is one of them. How much time do you need to create relevant content? How long do you plan a website? What about research, networking?

The Web belongs to those who understand. You don’t need to be a visionary, but you do need to open your eyes and listen to the wind of change, and instead of following old patterns… INNOVATE.

Author:  Mihaela works as SEO specialist for Red Dog Communications and blogs at eWritings.

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