A friend of mine is developing WordPress sites for business owners down in Denver, Colorado. He recently came across a well known historical restaurant whose owner just engaged a new web designer to re-do their site. Unfortunately, what they did not not know is that this web designer was just that – a graphic designer. The site has no search engine optimization. Each page has the same title, description and keywords and in fact no page has any thought as to keyword rich writing. Is he trying to play hide and go seek? Hiding your website is just wrong.
To top it all off – this business paid for the site in advance – and paid this designer $6,000. The site is coded using dreamweaver software (very outdated) and now the restaurant owner cannot make any changes to his new $6,000 site himself. He will have to pay probably $120/hour for changes – so they simply won’t get done. How do you announce specials? Holiday special buffet times? Being closed for a special wedding or event? How do you communicate with your customers? You don’t. You cringe before picking up the phone knowing you will be charged $120/hour so you don’t call and the change never happens. Hiding your website is a major fail. Most pages on this brand new site are hard to read because dreamweaver sites tend to be centered. Ever try to read a lot of centered text? It’s too hard. People give up and move on.
Now, if your intention is hiding your website from the public – you will succeed in the example above.
Now I don’t know if this business owner knew the person, was related, thought he was sharp or whatever. What I do know is that he put his business in a bad situation for years to come. His positioning is ok now due to the previous owner’s website attention, but he will soon find his results slipping to page 5 or higher due to no attention to search engine optimization practices.
People are online a lot! They are searching with their ipads, phones, laptops, desktops – you name it – and if your site is not found, that group of 12 celebrating a bachelorette event will not even consider your restaurant when planning their event. People are very busy. Companies are running on lean staffing to the point where many employees are super engaged all day long. If they search on something to plan an event and you are not even showing anywhere near the first results – you lose. When you are hiding your website you lose site traffic.People will not remember your business on their own sometimes – there is too much going on in their daily lives.
Hiding your website removes yourself from people’s decisions to potentially do business with you and your services.
The sad part of this story is that you can almost predict the failure of this restaurant with this simple misstep of choosing the wrong person for the website design. As they lose potential wedding gigs, group celebrations or just regular two person dinner reservations, business will drop off. Many restaurants rely on these large gigs – celebrations mean large bar tabs and alcohol sales are crucial for success. The owner will not even suspect his lame website because it looks ok (I can’t even say it looks pretty, because it doesn’t) but he has no idea it is not functional. The “not functional” part is key. Phone calls drop off, Inquiries drop off, things get slow, staff gets let go and he considers selling. He will totally blame the economy.
At this point he will consider selling at a loss, someone else will buy it and the opportunity to do another website will present itself. I do hope my friend in Denver gets to re-do the website in the future. He knows what he is doing and charges a lot less for a site that would run circles around the present “designer” choice. Who pays in advance the full amount? If something goes wrong how do you as a small business owner solve that problem? Only make your final payment after you are fully satisfied with someone’s work. Seriously, it’s 2011. Pay attention. Oh yes, and make it a new changeable website using the wordpress.org platform – it’s the only way to stay in control of your own site.