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July 23, 2008

The Web Emperor Has No Clothes

If you’re in business, you’re in sales; that’s just the way it is. We are all salesmen; we all have something to sell, a product, a service, an idea, a cause, or maybe just an opinion. And if you’re in business you have a website intended to communicate the value of that which you sell.

So if you’re in the business of selling something, and your website is the vehicle you choose to communicate your sales pitch, then shouldn’t your main concern be how effectively you are communicating that message?

Communication or Analytics

Instead of concentrating on effective communication, many businesses put the emphasis on search engine statistics: how high they rank on Google, MSN, and Yahoo, with the assumption that the higher they rank, the more traffic they’ll generate, and the more traffic they generate, the more sales they’ll get. At least, that’s what we are led to believe.

Here’s the problem: almost all the rank-generating strategies are aimed at search engine spiders, not people, so you have to ask yourself, who exactly is my website communicating to, robots or human beings?

The Secret Formula Doesn’t Exist

Why are today’s business owners and executives so mesmerized by this whole search engine thing? It reminds me of the story of an infamous Hollywood movie mogul and studio head who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Instead of firing the guy immediately, he was retained for some time for the simple reason his movies made money; and the dirty little secret in Hollywood is that nobody really knows why some movies are hits and others are bombs. So you keep paying the guy you think is making you money, no matter what he does, because maybe he knows something you don’t.

What we have today is a new generation of business leaders who came of age with the Internet. These Internet technology geeks and boffins are the new Web-wizards and wunderkinds: the guys with the secret formula. But like the movie industry, nobody really has a foolproof search engine recipe for success, but since most of the technical stuff is ever-changing, and over most entrepreneurs and business executives heads, they buy into it; that is until somebody tells them the emperor has no clothes.

What’s A Web Entrepreneur To do?

You heard the old expression, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” well it has never been so true as it applies to website marketing. The simple truth about websites is that success is based on a site’s ability to communicate a marketing message that makes sense, and is understood in an easy to digest format.

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit,, and Contact at or telephone (905) 764-1246.