The web is not a road instantly paved with gold. To be successful, a business will need to learn new skills, possibly undergo a culture change and take a medium to long term view.
Even a well built website by itself has limited value. A business asset but needing to be promoted, maintained with care and the addition of useful, unique content. Driven forward in the same way any marketing initiative should be.
The level of effort to provide a good return will differ, from an individual offering a local service, to a company seeking national success but underlying principles are the same.
Expecting business staff to suddenly become expert server managers, coders, or search optimisers is unreasonable. There are still core areas they can get to grips with, their own content management system and essential tools for website management:
Website Analytics - To monitor volume and behaviour of website visitors. Proprietary options, or a free version from Google.
Webmaster Tools - Another free option from Google and other search engines. Providing useful data on site errors and performance.
Server Control Panel - Core management options and access to the website files. A place most will not visit often but should understand.
These facilities need careful use, practice, although in depth technical knowledge is not essential. Understanding how a website is performing and being able to implement a few options can be.
The facilities may also be used by contracted support, who share reports but access remains valuable to a business. In almost all cases, a website owner should set this up, or ask their developer to.
A degree of explanation and training may be needed. To show how the tools help manage a website and take the site forward, with search engines, within the business and above all, with customers.
We can all make assumptions about our websites. How easy they are to use, or understand, that search engines will find the content invaluable and easy to access. Real data can provide a more neutral view and directions for positive change.
A broad subject, which could include working with social networks and others on the web, or off line methods to help online. Above all, few would not wish to bring extra business via search.
Depending on this totally is a dangerous way to build a business but there can be great benefit in search success. This however remains an area of the web with more myths than most and one where support can be patchy, to the extent of being misleading.
The prime needs are not shrouded in mystery, they are valuable content, an accessible, well structured website and a degree of online recognition. Technical approach matters but there is no hidden secret, just a need for planning and hard work.
This is not unusual in business and the same applies to all sizes. For many websites, the need is to succeed in local search. How the site is built and how the content is written still matter. Even an entry in Google Maps now requires care, to meet guidelines and see prominence.
A basic understanding of search and marketing needs is essential to every developer and to most businesses. Ensuring all parties hold this understanding is a foundation of success.
Our brief journey through management essentials takes us to the same point as other sections, the value of knowledge, the ability to use this in the same way as any business tool.
We did not wish to set out operational detail in this report, simply highlight the types of areas website owners and those employed by them should always consider.