An old joke, I know―one that isn’t particularly funny once you find out it may be true. And it gets even worse when you find it to be true only after you’ve spent money with someone and bought their act. It is one thing to try using a particular advertising medium only to find out that it did not work as well as you had hoped. It is quite another to buy an ad or listing―whatever it might be―under what can only be called just what it is…shady circumstances.
My goal in this article (and it’s a doozy, so get ready) is to enlighten you so that you can feel confident that your advertising dollars are working as hard as they can for you and your business. I want to make certain, to the best of my ability, that you have the tools you need to make the best decision for your company, independent of what you are told by salespeople who will do anything to make a buck.
This blog will show you how to evaluate a website to see if it is the best possible fit for marketing your business opportunity, small business, distributorship, licensee opportunity or small franchise. While no one article can cover every facet of every single possible type of placement, this one seeks to address some core issues on this subject as well as can be expected.
I’ve been working in this particular business sector now for more than three years and in sales in general for well over two decades. Just the three years I’ve been doing this is longer than a number of sites like ours have even been in business.
Before I go any further and if I may, I’d like to take a moment to dish some history and factual data with regard to our company that might be of interest to you:
BusinessOpportunity.com was registered in 1999 and began to come of age in late 2004. Many people don’t know that since then we’ve grown from just a handful of advertisers who aligned with our original mission into one of the most respected, highly trafficked and successful sites of its kind out there. And our success can be measured not only in key performance indicators (KPIs), but also in actual sales made to the very leads that we’ve provided to our advertisers. The fact is that BusinessOpportunity.com is positioned to become a serious global force in our industry in the coming years and that is our ultimate goal.
Part of achieving that goal, we know, lies largely in our ability to educate and inform our clients as to what it is they’re buying―from us or anyone else. Trouble is there’s a lot of misinformation and outright lying that goes on in this industry.
How to Know What You Are Buying
In the past three years I have been asked maybe 500 times how best to go about evaluating a website in this sector to ensure that someone is making a good buy given limited, precious advertising dollars. Until now I haven’t formulated my thoughts in the written form.
To be honest, my motivation to finally do so was solidified only recently when I was made aware of just how many individuals have been getting burned by slick salespeople using questionable data and stating untruths to make sales. Unfortunately, the list of companies, media buyers, “mom and pop” owners, business owners (both large and small) that have been affected by this practice is considerable.
What you need to know is that a number of salespeople are using outdated and dramatically skewed data―sourced from oftentimes unreliable websites―to sway people into buying a listing or a display ad on false premises. What’s even more disturbing is that oftentimes these folks know that the data they’re using is inaccurate. Unfortunately, the buyer on the other end of the sales pitch may not know better, and that is where this all-too-pervasive practice gets sticky or even shady. I hate to say it, but it’s not too off the mark in my view to call these kinds of practices downright deceptive.
There’s a lot of information conveyed here, I know. So if I leave you with nothing else in all of this, please take away these messages: “Just because you read it on the web, it does NOT make it true!” and “Just because a salesperson says it doesn’t make it so either!” In addition, you need to recognize that the analytics in this business are very complicated, and you would do well to have a basic knowledge of how it all works, but more on that in a moment.
For now, just know that this all-too-common practice of pointing to questionable websites for what seems like reliable traffic data is what prompted me to take action. Suffice it say that my research into the pervasiveness of this practice made me recognize just how dangerous it is, not only for our site but for our industry as a whole. I had to take action!
The Truth Is In the Google
In an effort to set the record straight on what some of you may have been told with regard to BusinessOpportunity.com's rankings in particular and how we stack up, here are some real facts that you can verify for yourself, if you care to:
BusinessOpportunity.com ranks Number One for all of the most obvious keyword search terms in our market sector, and we have a page rank of four. But don’t just take my word for it. See for yourself.
Try a Google search for the term business opportunity. You’ll find that BusinessOpportunity.com is in the #1 natural, non-paid, organic spot. Okay, just for fun, go on over to Yahoo and do the same thing. Now try AOL or even Bing. Did you see who ranks in the #1 spot? My guess is that you did and it’s us. Now try the second most obvious search term, business opportunities, and see how well we rank.
The proof that BusinessOpportunity.com is an industry leader for our market sector is right there in black and white, no matter what anyone else tells you. And we didn’t get there without a lot of hard work and effort. In fact, we’ve only managed to achieve all that we have thanks to the hard-earned results of our gifted SEO/SEM team. Shout out to them; we love what you do for our company! In fact, if you the reader ever need a gifted SEO/SEM company, just ask me for a reference, and I’ll put you in touch.
The truth is that we love what we do here at BusinessOpportunity.com, and we work very hard to do it well and in an upstanding fashion. To have our integrity and position in the industry called into question by upstart competitors just so they can make a sale―when they should be selling what they have to offer on its own merits―is just too great a challenge to ignore. So I couldn’t let this go.
Ahhh, I vented and it feels good. If you’ve come this far in reading this post, thanks for indulging me.
Now, let me give you some tips that can really help you get to the truth of the matter when you’re evaluating which website would be best for you to promote your business opportunity, small business, distributorship, licensee opportunity or small franchise.
How To Know What You’re Buying…For Real
So, when faced with not enough factual data, too much data such that it may very well be worthless and/or the need to separate truth from fiction as it is presented by unethical salespeople, what do you do? How do you know what to believe and what to buy when you must spend your limited advertising dollars wisely so that you get the biggest bang for your buck when advertising online?
First, you need an education, and this might even hold true for the seasoned Internet media buyer, depending on his/her background. I wrote a blog post some weeks back that exposed one questionable traffic-ranking source that you need to watch out for―Alexa.com.
Alexa is not and never has been a truly reliable way for potential media buyers to evaluate a website’s traffic. You can read that blog post and get more details on this subject by clicking here; it’s an eye-opening education: http://www.businessopportunity.com/Blog/alexa-ranking-system/
It’s scary to think that common knowledge is such that the limitations of these sites are largely unknown. The fact is that sites that post traffic data are notoriously inaccurate for any number of reasons.
For instance, Compete.com and Quantcast.com require that websites install certain codes on every page so that traffic to those sites can get picked up accurately. No codes, no honest results. Even when companies do make the coding investment, the process of picking up traffic is not foolproof, and in many cases remains less than 100% accurate. To top it all off, Compete.com tracks U.S. traffic only. Yikes!
What Are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
In website measurement terms, KPIs are metrics that help you to decide if a site is a good buy for your advertising needs. Ask yourself the following: Are you trying to source the best quality leads or just drive traffic vis-à-vis a banner ad for instance. KPIs are quantifiable website measurements that will reflect whether you are successfully meeting or falling short of your targeted goals.
Below are some KPIs to get you started on the right path to making the right purchase next time you place an ad on any website, not just ours:
Page Rank: Page rank is scaled 1 thru 10 and is indeed pretty complicated. For more information about page rank, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank; and keep in mind that BusinessOpportunity.com’s page rank is four.
Keyword Search Terms: The higher the ranking for anything from the most obvious to the less obvious keyword search terms for any given site, the better you have a chance to be seen on that site. For instance, if you were shopping or wanted to do research on a business opportunity, the most obvious keyword combination would be business opportunity. As I mentioned before, BusinessOpportunity.com ranks #1 across the board for that one. The least obvious search term that I can think of as I write this piece is a great business opportunity. Wow, we even rank #1 across the board on that one too! If you’re interested to learn more on this topic, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyword_research, and dig into the data.
Visitors: Visitors is a term that many salespeople use to mislead their potential customers, so watch out for this KPI. Let me break it down for you so that you can understand this a little better. Total visitor traffic is broken down by total visitors and unique visitors. The key metric to look for is total unique visitors. The term “total visitors” often includes anyone coming back more than once. “Unique visitors” comprise just one individual or company.
Page Views: The total number of page views per person per visit is a great stat to know. This KPI can tell you how many pages each person on average visited over any period of time. A day, a week, a month or even a year―and in many cases, the higher the page view number the better.
Time on Site: This KPI is something you truly need to ask about. The total time on site per person per visit is a key statistic. The longer the person stays with a site, the better. Folks who stay longer see more content, are oftentimes truly engaged and view more pages, which means more impressions are made…and so much more.
Bounce Rate: A bounce is when a visitor goes to a website and leaves. This is one of the most important usability metrics out there. Even if a site has a very high total unique visitor number and its bounce rate is, say, higher than 80%, then only roughly 20% of those unique visitors actually saw anything at all. Higher than 95% and their traffic is almost certainly full of junk. The lower the bounce rate the better.
Testimonials: And finally, please ask for testimonials from other advertisers who are currently on the site and that have been there for more than two weeks or even a month. The more testimonials a site can provide to you, the more established they are and the more likely that your business may do well on that site too. If the site has no current, established customer who would be willing to talk with you, or the site can only offer you a bunch of empty quotes with no contact information so you can talk to that person, it’s not a good sign.
Please remember what you’ve learned here. The next time a salesperson throws a statistic at you, I hope you’ll question the validity of what’s being said. Whatever you do, don’t jump. Do your homework, ask lots of questions and trust in BusinessOpportunity.com to do right by its customers to the best of our ability.
Thanks so much for your time here, and as always…