Recently, I was asked to compare the value of WordPress to Google Apps for marketing online, especially with regard to businesses interested in selling their products or services on the Internet. Here is an excerpt from that conversation.
First, it’s important that you understand my bias whenever I discuss websites and marketing things online. I’ve been successful online since 1999 and have developed nearly 700 websites and web properties in all various platforms, in social media, mobile, etc. Not only do I develop sites, but I do the search engine optimization and direct traffic as well, so I’ve had a unique opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t. My bias is not in creating ‘beautiful junk’ as I like to call it, but in creating tools that effectively leverage brands and help business owners make money online. At the end of the day, if you’re not gaining customers or sales then you’re not achieving the primary objective. Therefore, I’m always viewing things through that filter — “Will this make money, build the business, add customers or leads, etc.?”
WordPress is the most effective tool that exists to that end. That’s a bold statement but I have personally developed and/or marketed over 500 WordPress websites, so I’ve had plenty of time to verify that statement. I certainly didn’t begin with a bias toward WordPress, but you could fairly say that I have one now. WordPress is not the ideal tool for every scenario, but for most purposes a business owner has to marketing themselves online, it is. Here are some facts to consider:
- WordPress is based on a framework that is very flexible; the design aspects of the website are separate from the mechanics of the site, even though they work in tandem. This allows design elements to be changed even drastically and not lose any of the original URL’s for the site. From a linkbuilding or traffic generating perspective, this is key, as it allows the website to evolve but still retain all the SEO benefits it acquires over the years.
- WordPress has mechanisms in place that give the search engines exactly what they crave, in the manner in which they need it to understand the website. Some of the technical phrases for these tools are metadata, pinging, tags and silo structure. The jargon is not as important as what they accomplish. In short, WordPress was designed so that it notifies search engines when something new is published on the site, and then presents the data properly so that when search engines (and users) visit the site they can understand what it’s about.
WordPress Equals Flexibility
- WordPress is highly scalable, meaning that any size website can be built using WordPress. I have personally constructed WP sites of 25,000 pages. More important, WordPress is highly customizable with ‘plugins’ that allow us to attach viral worth to the content on the site; this allows users to share content, comment, etc., and each new interaction with the website is a new notification to the search engines. WordPress leaves nothing to waste, utilizing every scrap of web traffic for your benefit.
- WordPress websites are mobile friendly. It is estimated that by 2013, more users will access online properties with mobile than non-mobile devices.
The Commercial Viability of WordPress
- WordPress is ideal for creating sales funnels. These are the basic processes by which e-commerce happens online. The process is different for mass merchandisers like Amazon. But for those companies selling a main product (physical or digital), there is an ideal process at work, and it goes something like this : the business sprinkles assets across the internet. These assets can be in the form of advertising, videos, articles, comments on other people’s websites, press releases, images, social media objects and hundreds of other ‘workers’ who share a common task — bring traffic back to the website. Where the traffic goes is a bit different for every business model, but in many cases it will come back to a squeeze page that offers something of real perceived value, collects an email address and builds a relationship. There will be a sales page to present the offer, a method to collect payment, a page thanking the customer for the order, a delivery method for the purchase, and then one or two offers with their own payment systems. It sounds complicated and in some respects it is… there are a lot of little pieces, many subtle nuances, and lots of buttons & levers that need to be pushed & pulled in the proper way. You see, a sales process has many steps — it’s not just one decision to “buy” but many decisions along the way. The process needs to feel and operate seamlessly or the propect will exit the process and a sale will be lost.
- This brings us back to design and formatting a page in a way that supports “trust.” Websites exist for many purposes, but in your particular case, we are considering the purpose of selling. Whenever someone lands on your website, you have a few seconds to convey to them that they are in the right place and you can truly help them. Deciding to purchase comes a lot later. One of the central questions driving their process of engagement is “Can I trust you?” They are evaluating your value from the filter of every other website they have seen. Does your site look professional? Contemporary? Does it feel “typical”? Anything dodgy…? While there are “verification seals” you can place on your website that verify you are the authentic owner of the site and follow reputable business practices, those are valuable as a second tier; oftentimes a prospect will leave your website long before they think about those issues simply because the site looks like it hasn’t been updated in years. Their concern is justified; would you give money to a business that may not even be in business? Absolutely not.
I have spent quite a lot of time discussing WordPress and what it can do. In start contrast, Google Apps do relatively few of these things but what they do, WordPress does better.
You can build a site with Google Apps. You cannot build a business like you can with WordPress.