Why Being Number 1 Isn’t Easy

“Pride I often find limits good websites from becoming great websites”

I’ve been involved in the web space now for over 10 years, and in that time I’ve come across two types of people when it comes to putting together websites, “do’ers” and “can’ts” others may classify these people as either “put up, or shut-up” what amazes me however is that I’ve often run across more people who are from the “cannot” camp than the “do it” camp. Talking to people who run small businesses I often hear that the web guy they have working for them tells them something can’t be done, and often what I hear is that may hold true, but the person relaying the story is missing a crucial piece of information. The piece of information that would enable them to do what they need. Some people may refer to these as “system limitations” when usually they are “I’m too busy to muck around with the system” or “the system is too complex for me to understand” both fair comments, but if expressed to the person paying the bills may be something they might be able to help by bringing in a specialist for a short period. Pride I often find limits good websites from becoming great websites, as well as limiting their SEO rankings.

I wonder how much further things would move for some companies if some people would just be OK with saying “I’m not sure.” or “I don’t know how to do this.”. It would seem though that when you’re employment is on the line and you’ve been hired to do a job, it’s expected you would then be the subject matter expert, and this would be fine if some people would be willing to even do a bit of leg work such as picking up a book, or searching the web for similar problems and how they were solved. So the question for small companies that wish to succeed in the online space needs to come up with a way for enabling their jack-of-all-trades to be fallible. That’s where the rub is though. People who are typically jack-of-all-trades often revel in their amazing abilities to do so many things. When you’re web guy suddenly also fixes your networking issues, and builds you a database to keep track of customer data, while introducing the company to video conference through web cams, they seem like miracle workers, so why would they want to diminish this amazement with a “I can’t do it.” As opposed to “it’s not possible” the people who these people are working for will often take the “it’s not possible” as the word seeing as the wonder kid solves 90% of their other problems, and so the issue just goes away not to be brought up again.

Now to take these even further I think large companies suffer from the same issue as well, if not more so. When you introduce large complex digital ecosystems that are all interconnected, and contain information and data, and they all need to connect to each other, it doesn’t take long before someone gets overwhelmed, further often the question to these people are worded poorly from non-technical people. Something like “can this system pulls up our latest pricing” could get a no from someone and quickly shut something down, while they may not be aware, that another system could feed the system the pricing. Large corporate architectures often leave individuals siloed from other systems, which interesting enough when someone says we need to get this system to talk to that system, what they should be saying is we need to get this subject matter expert to talk to the other subject matter expert, and add onto this that there is often limited documentation on systems, because the documentation is usually the guy down the hall who has been working on the system for 10 years.

So what does this all mean, what does this have to do with being number one. When I’ve been approached with the question how do we get to be number one in search results, my answer is simple. Get people talking. Being number one isn’t solved through IT alone or marketing alone. The best SEO people out there act as air traffic controllers; they ensure that people are talking. That the marketing folks are getting feedback from metrics teams on what words people use to talk about products, that IT teams are made aware of the importance of page delivery speeds, and URL structures, that designers understand the pro’s and con’s of FLASH, AJAX, and other tool selections, as well as semantic markup of web pages, that writers understand how the use of language and words can influence the relevance of other terms and words from a search perspective, and how important PR is to build up awareness of pages and links back to the site. Being number one isn’t an easy thing to do, it’s not a single super star that will get you a number one ranking, it’s a team effort and it requires your team to be talking and thinking like a customer would to find your products, and this includes your SEO, SEM and Social Media efforts. Each member plays a role in building an experience that makes your website more findable both from outside sources as well as when they land on the site and need to navigate your site IA and UX.

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