On Being Findable

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If someone can’t find you off of a simple search engine query, all is lost.

It doesn’t matter if you’re representing a brand/company. It doesn’t matter if it’s just you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up entrepreneur, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a multinational company. If people can’t find you online, you are invisible. The argument could be that you don’t want to be found. The only reason to not want to be found is if you are doing something illegal. No matter how small or specific your niche. No matter if you sell to the mass public or if you’re only doing B2B. It doesn’t matter if your product sells for one dollar or twenty-million dollars. Be findable.

The amount of content being pushed out by your company and the website that you are driving them too is not working hard enough for you.

In the advertising world, there is a saying that we have to "let the creative do the work." Great creative really can convey much more than a strong brand message. It can tell a story. It can sell a story. Nobody is going to care about any of those stories if they can’t find you. Which leads us to:

"Let your website do the work."

How many companies do you know that do not have a website? Agreed, it’s laughable. Even if it’s old and never-updated, most people do have some form of web presence (even if it is almost a decade old and simple brochureware). The truth is, if you have the space (and you should) and it’s not really working for you, now is the time to turn the corner. Yes, this Blog posting could have been written five (ten!) years ago. The truth is, the majority of websites are not weaving their magic the way they should.

Shall we talk about usability, functionality, design, back-end technology or search engine optimization?

It’s probably some or all of the above. Here are the six steps to start thinking about it differently right now:

  1. Admit you have a problem.
  2. Grab four people into a room and ask them what they would do about it. These could be employees, friends, your agency or hired guns.
  3. Create a strategy that will have a twelve-month shelf-life. Make milestones for each week’s goals. Every goal should be around how you’re going to do something to make yourself more findable.
  4. Figure out if Social Media can help you be more findable (hint: don’t go here first, if you don’t have a competent website to drive them to once they’ve engaged).
  5. Execute, execute, execute. We’ve all seen countless organizations do numbers 1-4, but when it comes time to implement and do it, nothing gets done. Don’t be one of those stats. You know that old Nike chestnut: "just do it."
  6. Rinse and repeat. This is an iterative and ongoing process. It will take time and it will take even more time to always keep it moving forward.

If you really do love business you won’t take this lightly.

The harsh reality is that more and more people are having their first brand interactions at the search box. As weird and strange as the search engine results may seem, they are fairly agnostic. They’re simply looking for the most relevant results. Our jobs – day in and day out – is to make sure that we are findable.

How can we care about online social networks, Twitter, FriendFeed, lifestreaming and more when businesses – for the most part – have a hard time being found online?


  1. How timely, Mitch. Earlier today, I asked advisors in Ottawa: “What shows up when you type your name into Google? If you don’t show up, do you really exist?”
    Pin-drop silence echoed through the room. This happens most places I go.
    Companies are more likely to show up online. However, we must care about Brand Me and show up too.
    As a bare minimum, we can setup a free profile on LinkedIn completed to 100% with a photo and testimonials.
    That’s the same message I’m using tomorrow. Now I can direct advisors to your article too. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Amen Mitch!
    My favourite is Step 4- “Figure out if Social Media can help you be more findable (hint: don’t go here first, if you don’t have a competent website to drive them to once they’ve engaged).”
    There is so much talk in the social media space that the corporate website is dead… yada yada. But the harsh reality is many people still find businesses through Google and many still rely on testimonials provided by the website. Not all are as savvy to go on Yelp and research what the real customers are saying.
    To make my point clear – Websites still matter and so does search engine optimization. This is especially important for local businesses as I find so many businesses by simply searching for what I am looking for on Google Maps and then heading over to their website to see if I’m interested.
    Businesses have to understand that it is no longer that expensive to have an online presence and SEO isn’t that difficult either if you just learn the basics.
    Be findable!
    Alex “Findable” Ikonn
    BTW… great post!

  3. Where I live (Prague) pretty much every business is finadable online – most have websites, some of which are very good, in both Czech and English. Small enighbourhood restaurants will often have very good, regularly updated websites – it’s more common here than in the UK. Even if they don’t have a website, they have a basic profile in a business directory operated by the biggest search engine player (Seznam.cz – not Google) – the data for which comes from the commercial register, so everyone’s in it.
    Maybe the Czech Republic is ahead of the curve in that respect, they’re certainly well served by reasonably priced no-nonsense web design/production agencies.
    Adoption of social media however is a little different. A good few places have facebook fan pages and some are using them very effectively, but that is the exception rather than the norm.

  4. Hi Mitch:
    I’m always astounded at the number of business websites that don’t have some of their key or senior people listed on the website with basic contact information. Honestly, everybody “public facing” who has any sort of contact with the outside world should be listed on the website for easier contact.
    Even when I wasn’t on the website myself, I made sure I was findable.

  5. Oh yes – One article put 60% of SMB’s in Canada not even having web sites.
    I was talking to the president of a business with no web site – I mentioned that in his sales business – well, put it this way – I don’t sell anything. Nothing.
    Yet my tiny blog gets about 2000 visits per month.
    For him?
    That is 2000 opportunities for a sale
    Each and every month.
    How many phone calls, networking events, or business card handouts per day do you need to reach that number?
    Nuff Said 🙂

  6. Joel,
    Great post. I like to tell people that they should make sure they’ve got 1.0 nailed down before they spend all their time on 2.0.
    If they don’t have 1.0 down then pay someone to get you up to speed quickly and then go to work on the social Web. Being big in social media is of much less value without some type of anchor, (findable) home base from which to operate.
    Great post.

  7. Did the website page thing where you asked us to draw our home page from memory and got to tell ya, have to rethink my strategy. Kind of like the idea of morphing my website into my blog and am seriously nearly ready to dump the web. Thanks for the idea on the podcast a few weeks ago.

  8. I agree that you don’t want to drive people to a weak website, but because social media marketing is such an effect and low cost way to promote your company and products, you don’t want to just sit back and wait for your site to be redesigned and the SEO to kick in. Instead of wasting time (and money), what if your online marketing attempts could take your customers directly to an online storefront? If your call to action is to purchase your product, why do they even need to go to your website?
    – Greg Mesaros, CEO of eWinWin

  9. Great post.
    Whatever the speed and take-up of social media, most people don’t get it. Heck, over 60% of businesses don’t even have a static website.
    Over 80% of people go online to find service providers and suppliers. And 94% of those only use Page 1 of Google.
    And typing in your own company name does NOT mean that you are findable. Only 20% of people search for a service provider by name. The majority search by category or problem they have. So yo need to be found by that means.
    And most companies know what they are as an expert in that service. The language of the customer is usually quite different. One of my clients, the whole industry had the “tech-speak” phrases and all the searches were for completely different terms.
    Do your keyword research first. Get your site optimized. Then send people there via social media.

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