How to Make Your Web Site (and Yourself) Irrelevant

Filed in SEO, Web Design, Web Site Content by Matt McGee on October 2, 2006 0 Comments

If you’re a small business owner, ask yourself this question: Why do I/we have a web site?

Let me put that another way: Who does the web site exist for? Here are your two choices:

1. You
2. Your customers

If you said #1, try again. In fact, I’d suggest you get in the habit of referring to it not as “our web site,” but as “our customers’ web site.” It exists to serve them.

So, when you’re thinking that you want people to fill out a web form and give you their name and e-mail address in order to gain access to something on the web site … stop. There’s no quicker way to make you and your web site irrelevant than to demand personal information in exchange for something that should be available for free.

“For free?!”, you say. “But we’re not charging. We’re just asking for a name and e-mail address.” Hey, in this day and age, my name and e-mail address is currency. I’m more careful with it than I am small sums of actual cash. I’m not alone.

So, to sum up, if you want to become irrelevant in a hurry, hide your valuables behind a login wall. Invite your visitors to play Let’s Make a Deal — “You can have what’s behind door #3 in exchange for your name and e-mail address!” — and then watch them all go elsewhere to get the same thing without having to give themselves away. If you’re a Big Brand, you can get away with this more easily (but it’s still not a good idea). If you’re a small business that doesn’t have built-in trust, you can’t.

Oh, and for SEO purposes — your hidden content isn’t going to be spidered if you require web form submission before it can accessed. Web crawlers don’t fill out web forms and hit “Submit.” Sorry.

[tags]web design, web content, seo, small business[/tags]

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