Why you probably don’t need a web site

Peter Whent

September 14, 2020

A trip through web history

Today’s lesson is from the book of Web, starting at Web 1.0

If I had a De Lorean with one point twenty-one Gigawatts of power, I’d take us back to about mid-1996. We’re going to a meeting room on a business park in York.

There we’ll find a younger me and about four others taking our first look at our company’s new web site. Hell, it was our company’s first web site. It was the time of everyone’s first web site.

I’m staring at it with that look I usually reserve for the Tate Modern. The one I wear when I’m studying a white canvas with a blue stripe down the middle, which is apparently now valued at £4 million.

The expression is pained. I’m trying to channel my inner Melvin Bragg, but really what I want to do is scream: “It’s a fucking stripe”

There were three notable things about our new web site. It was static, it cost £20,000 and it was crap. That was the way it was in 1996.

Back in the De Lorean. A quick stop in about 2,000 for a look at Web 2.0, where things got a bit more interactive (average price of a web site £10,000).

Then on to the start of the noughties and Web 2.5. We’ll take a quick gander at the emergence of applications as a service (average price of a web site £5,000 – great Scott!!), before arriving back in 2019 in time for tea.

Today a web site will do everything except make the drinks, and it can be knocked up in about two hours, with minimal technical skills, for a monthly subscription of about 25 quid. So, in my own contrarian way, I’m here to tell you that now web sites have been completely democratised, and are as easy to build as Word documents, you may want to consider not bothering.

How you manage without a web site

I’m completely serious. But before I explain, there’s a couple of people who can leave now.

If you’re a destination site (listings, directory etc.) or an ecommerce site, then please leave quietly. The pot of gold at the end of this rainbow isn’t for you. I’m talking to all you solopreneurs, consultants, coaches, network marketers and speakers. When you're just getting started, you need a web presence, but do you really need your own web site?

For your web presence you probably need a summary page, a more detailed about me page, maybe a sales page and a blog. What else? If you’re really honest about it, any more than that is vanity, and vanity is not a great way to spend your time.

So, here’s what you do. Base your online presence on LinkedIn.

I’m serious. There are some very good reasons why this will produce better results for you than starting from scratch with your own web site.

If your inner marketing guru is screaming “This sounds all wrong”, that’ll be the vanity again.

Here’s the juice. First and foremost, you’re going to be on LinkedIn anyway and so are 590 million other people. So, I’m not taking you far out of your way. Everything you want is already there. Your home page will be a great looking photo of you, a short description of what you do and a blank canvas (background photo) where you can channel your inner van Gogh.

The About Me page is your epic LinkedIn profile that will generate leads.

Why repeat all of that on another web site? (apart from vanity).

It also comes with a convenient contact details page and the scope for as much rich-media as you want to throw at it.

Add to this the fact that an eye-watering 80% of all sales opportunity that originate on social media, comes from LinkedIn, and already it’s a slam dunk.

SEO done for you

But here’s the really compelling bit. Go to Google and do a search on your name. I’m betting that in the first 5 results will be your LinkedIn listing.

Google loves sites that have lots of activity and changes. Be honest. What are the chances of you getting your web site onto the first page of Google? Unless you are to SEO, what Barry Manilow is to swooning septuagenarian women, then I’d say the chances are slim.

The more active you are on LinkedIn the higher you will rank on Google. Plenty of active users will list no 1 on a Google search. So take full advantage of the massive B2B social network that is attached to your web presence by writing plenty of posts

What about "Never build on rented land"?

There’s a few bits and pieces that you may want to do differently.

Once you start marketing yourself, you’re going to want a landing page or two, maybe with an email opt in form on it. LinkedIn won’t be of any help with this. You can build and host those for free with an email marketing service like Mailchimp.

Then there’s the thorny question of your blog. You could use LinkedIn Articles, but I would suggest you don’t. LinkedIn doesn’t give the prominence to articles that it used to. I don’t feel confident enough about LinkedIn’s intentions to suggest you hitch yourself to that wagon.

Instead, I’d recommend you start a WordPress blog that you own, and which is hosted wherever you choose. Don’t be tempted to use one of the blogging sites (Blogger, Blogspot etc). One day when you’re bigger and more established, you’ll outgrow LinkedIn. Trying to move a whole blog and all its contents will be painful. Besides, if you base your blog on WordPress, you have the beginnings of a web site.

As a starter solution, I would completely recommend this. You are keeping control of the important parts of your online presence and temporarily building a small shelter on rented land.

So yes. I’m as serious as climate change. If you’re starting out, give yourself one less thing to do and jump on LinkedIn for your web presence.

If we were to be visiting in the DeLorean from the future, we might call this the start of Web 3.0. (average cost of web presence – zero).

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