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SEO, Small Business Websites & Downtrepreneurs

October 7th, 2008
24 Comments


Downtreprenuer [doun-truh-pruh-nur] a person who organizes and manages a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk, because they have lost their jobs and baby needs a new pair of shoes.

  1. As different industries falter in the economic downturn (think real estate professions, the auto biz, etc.), people will start to look for alternative ways to make money.
  2. The Web offers one of the cheapest ways to start a business.  Get a cheap/free website from someone like Merchant Circle or Homestead and start adding pages.
  3. There’s nothing like the thought of poverty to focus the mind on learning how to make the most of what you have.  SEO, SMO and other “free” online marketing tactics will attract these Downtrepreneurs, like moths to a flame.
  4. As a result of this influx of stressed-out marketers, SEO & SMO will get more competitive than ever, making it harder for incumbent sites to maintain their rankings (or maybe the bigger sites will just get bigger and the 2nd tier sites will end up killing each other for smaller and smaller pieces of the pie).

So what does this mean for you?

  • Businesses that have an understanding of SEO & SMO and are already using these techniques will have an advantage over the thousands of newbies who enter the market over the next year.
  • If you do not dominate your keywords via great content, linkbuilding and smart SEO strategy, you are going to see that part of your business nibbled away.
  • You better get on it now.
  • If you know how to monetize your business better than the newbies you may have an opportunity to use their newfound SEO skills to make both of you money, or you may be able to pick up some strong lead-generating sites on the cheap, as unsophisticated newbies flounder.

Conclusion: Invest in your website and online marketing now* or get ready for some ex-investment banker from Lehman Bros to eat your lunch.

*Note: may contain extremely self-serving recommendations designed to promote the author’s business, but cut him some slack as we may be in a depression and his wife just spent a hundred f&*#ing bucks for baby’s new pair of shoes.


Tags: Merchant Circle · Small Business Marketing

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michael Dorausch // Oct 7, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Nothing like the motivation that comes after waking up to discover someone has drunk up your milkshake.

    Wise words Andrew.

  • 2 Andrew Shotland // Oct 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Of course you could always wait until the government decides to give everyone a new milkshake too, or maybe fries.

  • 3 David Mihm // Oct 7, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Andrew, I just had a similar conversation with a prospective client yesterday. Sadly, he was unwilling to invest the money but at least he understood my point.

    The only bone to pick is your #2:

    Get a cheap/free website from someone like Merchant Circle or Homestead and start adding pages.

    IMHO this is an unwise idea, as I have had several prospective (and current) clients complain to me about how difficult these companies are to work with.

    Homestead in particular does not let you transfer your domain name away from them if you ever decide to get a real website. Merchant Circle, I’ll bring up the comments on just one of Matt McGee’s posts on the topic: http://www.smallbusinesssem.com/more-trouble-for-merchant-circle/615/

    Don’t you think a better strategy would be to reserve a domain name, get a monthly hosting plan, and install a WordPress blog for free, all of which you can do for less than $60 a year… ?

  • 4 Andrew Shotland // Oct 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    David,

    Perhaps my choice of vendors was not right on, but the general message is just get a web site. Re MC I believe you can use your own domain and you can transfer that to any host you want. Not sure about Homestead though. Re installing a free WordPress blog I agree, but there are a lot of other options too.

  • 5 Steve McStud // Oct 7, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Note to Andrew***
    Never mention Merchant Circle on your blog because david mihm is all over that like Obama on rich people.

  • 6 David Mihm // Oct 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Haha, or McCain on tax breaks for oil companies. ;)

    Seriously, if a couple of small businesses came to me and had a great experience to talk about with respect to Merchant Circle I’d stop harping about them, but the sheer volume of negative comments on Matt’s blog is remarkable. And about 15% of my own clients have told me they were confused by, and didn’t appreciate, MC’s telespam.

  • 7 Matt McGee // Oct 7, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I just think if you’re gonna continually use your blog to link to or help your clients, you should be transparent and reveal the relationship.

    You keep linking to your old post about Merchant Circle with their name as anchor text because they have some serious reputation management issues and need my post, Rae’s post, and the other half-dozen posts detailing their marketing practices down on page 2 or worse. And then you go out begging for Sphinns so that this post hits the home page there, and some of that link juice will get passed to your MC post.

    I like you, Andrew – you know that. I guess I just expect a little more transparency about your tactics.

  • 8 Andrew Shotland // Oct 7, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Hey Matt,

    for the record – I HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP WITH MERCHANT CIRCLE – REPEAT NO RELATIONSHIP. And I think if you look back at the history of this blog I mention plenty of other sites that I also have no relationship with. I like mentioning MC because no one cares very much if I mention most other local search co’s, yet MC seems to bring out an emotional response, and also seems to drive a lot of search engine referrals so I will likely keep talking about them.

  • 9 Andrew Shotland // Oct 7, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Oh, and I like you too Matt…in a purely SEO kind of way of course.

  • 10 Ryan Donahue // Oct 7, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Great post. I might also add that our economic downturn could also drive a proliferation of “moonlighters” who are looking for extra income but don’t consider themselves small business owners. These people will need tools and solutions to get them local customers quickly and will have even less time to learn/adapt to technology than your more traditional, full-time smb.

  • 11 Steve McStud // Oct 7, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    For the record, I like the following:
    Andrew Shotland
    Matt McGee
    David Mihm

  • 12 Andrew Shotland // Oct 7, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Ok this comment section is getting a little weird guys.

  • 13 David - Los Angeles Internet Marketing // Oct 8, 2008 at 11:36 am

    yet MC seems to bring out an emotional response, and also seems to drive a lot of search engine referrals so I will likely keep talking about them. hehe… Just get David Mihm on a roll, and we could keep the comments going.

  • 14 john andrews // Oct 8, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I don’t know what the fuss is about, but MerchantCircle shows up quite a bit when you are doing small business work. They have a presence, and it matters, good or bad. There is also apparently an interesting connection to Marchex, which also has a presence, and matters.

  • 15 Small Business Marketing in a Recession - Hold a BAILOUT SALE! | Stever.ca // Oct 8, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    [...] Andrew Shotland says that we are about to be flooded by wannabe SEO’s looking for new jobs [...]

  • 16 Andrew Shotland // Oct 8, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Nice url John!

  • 17 B. Chandra // Oct 9, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I have received legal notice that I cannot speak about a certain company referenced in your post, so I will instead talk about a company called Merchant-Urkel (which illustrates how much I care about frivilous legal threats) which has earned a corrosive reputation through tele-marketing practices, some of which may be in violation of the Do Not Call registry. It doesn’t take a genius to know that associating your company with a negative brand over the short or long run is a bad idea.

  • 18 rishil // Oct 10, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Small businesses have some seriously unique propositions that can gain them influence in the social media sphere, and I agree, if you are a small business that can benefit from communicating to your market regularly, you need to get your self a site now.

    But also, get your niche and add value. thats how to beat the big boys.

  • 19 Sequoia Capital Recommends SEO in a Economic Downturn // Oct 10, 2008 at 1:12 pm

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  • 20 Dave // Oct 15, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    I’m from South Africa and I have absolutely no idea who Merchant ‘Urkel’ are, but that doesn’t matter, because the comment banter on this post is a hoot.

    Only problem is I’ve forgotten what the post was about in the first place…

  • 21 Andrew Shotland // Oct 15, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Welcome Dave!

    I believe this may shed some light on the whole Urkel thing:

    http://images.google.com/images?q=urkel&ie=UTF-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&resnum=1&ct=title

  • 22 Phil G // Aug 23, 2009 at 3:42 am

    I love your approach- very funny- very upfront and really informative.

  • 23 Bilal Hussain // Oct 11, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Our Company B N Leather International Established in 1994.We have a great experience to Manufacturing & Supplying all sorts of leather Garments & other Bike Accessories. We are supplying our products to Asia , U.K , U.S.A & European market. We manufacture Special Quality for special Riders.
    We always give full attention to improve our quality of products and try to our best to make satisfy all new & old customers.

  • 24 Cool Websites // Mar 13, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Great post Andrew

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