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Search marketing without a web site

Most of you know that I do a lot of speaking engagements, and many of them are for small business groups. Sometimes I fail to understand where small businesses are coming from. A question I was asked the other day really brought me up short, but before giving a knee-jerk response, I really thought about it and surprised myself with the answer.


A successful 60-something boutique owner showed up at a speaking engagement with her daughter in tow. Her boutique has a lease that ends in two years and her daughter is telling her that it would be smarter to move her business online than to a new location. She looked me in the eye (out of her daughter’s earshot) and said, “I understand why we need to be found in Google.” Then she furrowed her brow and asked me, “But do I really need to have a Web site?”
At first, I had to stifle that smug expert’s laughter at the painfully naive question. Search marketing without a Web site! Ha!
But hold on a second. Why do you need a Web site to participate in search marketing? Oh, I know there needs to be a Web site somewhere, but that isn’t what she was asking. Why can’t she use a hosted store from Yahoo! or someone else to house her goods?
Why can’t professionals use free blogging sites instead of creating their own Web site? I even wrote a newsletter about one professional using a Squidoo lens instead of a full-blown Web site. (I guess these other options are half-blown Web sites.)
I know that there’s more that you can do if you control your own Web site, but for a lot of folks, it’s just not worth the learning curve. So, I caught myself, and I told her, “No, you don’t need to set up your own Web site, but you do need your products to be displayed on the Web somewhere. Let me explain what your options are.”
I’m rooting for the day when running a Web business and doing search marketing won’t require so much knowledge. I already think that search is less work than most other kinds of marketing, but I am looking forward to it getting even easier. I think we’ll have a lot more good businesses out there.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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