Many new businesses start up thinking that they can make their fortune by selling on the Internet, they are spurred on by reports of Internet entrepreneurs earning huge bucks selling online.
Of course there will always be successes where the net is concerned and it offers a great potential for new businesses to get established and make money. The problem is that you do not sell products and services without visitors and visitors can be massively expensive to generate.
The big Internet boom and bust shows quite clearly that any new business, no matter how well funded, cannot simply exist on bought traffic whether that is from paid search or affiliate marketing or general marketing. High profile disasters were driven by huge advertising spends and a belief that this will drive enough visitors to get a website established.
Of course there are many good drivers of traffic but without exception every one of the boom and bust internet businesses both then and now either overlook natural search traffic or simply have a facility built that is not capable of getting natural search profile.
This latter factor is normally due to poor website design and really poor e-commerce solutions, the off the shelf solutions are the worst culprits whilst the bespoke solutions are failing through ignorance of the developers.
Now in plain English the rule is as follows: Any business hoping to sell on the Internet will at best perform way below its potential or at worst, fail completely, if they do not get the right platform from which to sell their products and services from the outset.
Investing tens of thousands of hard earned pounds on a system that cannot deliver search positions is foolish at best. Of course the main issue here is the bandwagon, so many developers and packaged shop solutions are branded as being SEO friendly that the budding entrepreneur is duped from the outset. The reality is that most are far from capable from a search engine friendly perspective including almost all of the leading brands.
They developers think that being able to slap in a few meta tags and a few heading 1 tags makes a platform SEO friendly, in truth that's like saying a pair of fluffy dice and a good stereo will make your car go fast!
The reality is that many a website is doomed before it is published, these poor entrepreneurs never had a chance and at best will have to rely on channels such as paid search, price comparison and eBay. Some will survive but continue to frustrate and underachieve, their marketing budgets will be blown on expensive advertising and unethical SEO practice as unscrupulous agencies happily rip them all off with great promises that are hungrily devoured by the entrepreneurial lambs.
Who is really to blame for all this?
Well lets start with the business advisers, many of them are government led initiatives with jobs for the boys mentality, for example I once had an adviser from Business Link come to offer advice in relation to our Internet business. Now bearing in mind it was only a couple of years ago I was shocked to learn that he didn't use email, he didn't know much about Google and he was not online at home.
I crucified him with net based questions and he left with his tail between his legs ready to advise the next business on his list on behalf of the government. Most banks are no different and bank advisers just do not get it either.
Next on the list are the developers and manufacturers peddling solutions that do not work in search engines, in one or two cases they can offer more functionality for search but you need to be a hard core coder to take it to that level, most entrepreneurs are not hard core coders.
Next are the backstreet SEO merchants, they are circling like vultures, email marketing their black promises of page 1 utopia, this is about 90% of the industry as far as I can see. Again adding a few meta tags and headings and promising the earth. A good session of manipulation and link spamming is usually on the menu but of course most of it can never work in a medium and long term basis and obscure search terms that generate little traffic is the order of the day.
Lastly are the people themselves, too many of them are not up to speed with this aspect of business, they are happy to learn business principles, accounting, banking and go to great lengths choosing names and logos, how many of them spend a few months in SEO forums, how many go to night school to learn the basics of html or CSS and Photoshop or Dreamweaver.
Which then brings us full circle back to the advisers whose first bit of advice would be to highlight these important aspects, but then of course most of them do not use the reputable expertise themselves so how could they preach about it in the first place.
For any business on the Internet natural search profile is a must and without it product led shops will face Internet oblivion!
Shaun Parker has ten years experience in the SEO industry and is frustrated by the poor performance of online shops in search engines such as Google. Read more about how search engine optimisation affects the success of online selling.