Do my small business owner self-examination so you can get well soon!

digital trends

The cost of an office visit to a doctor is high enough, but here’s something that can be even more expensive: Living with a digitally unhealthy small business and not realizing it.

That’s why I’ve taken information from a recent report on small business digital trends and turned it into a self-examination quiz. Take a moment to gauge your health:

Are you part of the:

  • 17 percent of small business owners who will be investing in search engine optimization (SEO) in 2017? (yes/no)
  • 42 percent of small business owners who admit they don’t use both a robust website and social media channels for marketing? (yes/no)
  • 19 percent of retailers who admit that their websites are not primarily for e-commerce? (yes/no)
  • 26 percent of small business owner who just have a one-page website? (yes/no)
  • 43 percent of small business owners with no plans to change or improve their online presence in 2017? (yes/no)
  • 85 percent of small business owners who are hitting some kind of roadblock when attempting to use social media to promote their business? (yes/no)

“Yes” answers to any of those questions – except the first – tells you that there’s some serious work you need to be doing on your overall online presence and specifically your online marketing. Now that you have the results of your self-examination, let’s prescribe some treatments.

Failing to invest in SEO. Find an SEO specialist through one of the freelance sites and have an audit performed. At least go out and get some bids and check credentials! Take the first step. Your website doesn’t do you very much good if prospects can’t find it easily. Get your keywords identified and put together an on-site and off-site SEO strategy.

No robust website and social media marketing. Note that the word “and” connects these two important online strategies. By “robust” we mean that you have an engaging, modern website – not something cobbled together four years ago. It needs to be mobile friendly. Further, you need to orchestrate a marketing strategy between your website and your social media presence. Are you using social media to drive traffic to your site and are you collecting email addresses when visitors arrive?

You’re a retailer but you don’t sell via the Internet. If I had a Magic Eight Ball and asked it about e-commerce it would say, “All signs point to e-commerce becoming the dominant shopping system.” While it’s true that the addition of shopping makes website design and management a little more complicated, with today’s DIY website building services, the process is much more simple than it was a couple of years ago.

You have a one-page website. Frankly, for some businesses a one-page site can be adequate for communicating what’s important. However, I don’t think a one-page site gives you a chance at good SEO. Survey businesses similar to yours. Find out which ones place highly in search results and start to build something similar to those successful sites.

You have no online improvements planned. I’m shocked that nearly half of those surveyed said they had no plans to improve their online marketing or presence in 2017. You simply cannot stand still with either your website or your social media marketing. The Internet evolves too fast to allow for that. Also, your competitors will be experimenting with different online strategies and evolving their presence. You can’t afford to be marching in place while others are moving forward.

You’ve run into roadblocks with your social media marketing. If you’ve been frustrated by social media marketing, you first need to review your goals. Are you trying to increase your following? Are you trying to drive visitors to your website? Are you trying to make sales? Each of these would demand a different strategy and in some cases, different social media platforms. Try focusing on one objective for two to three months. Experiment to find what delivers the best results. However, realize that if you don’t have an audience with enough people who have the right interests, you’ll never succeed.

“The number one reason why small business owners are online is to attract and engage with new customers, yet our report indicates small business owners may be having a hard time keeping up with the continually changing dynamic of the web,” says David Brown, CEO of, when he released the report.

“In 2017, it is no longer enough for small business owners to be online with just a website. They need business-specific social media channels that engage customers, they need a search-engine-optimization (SEO) strategy that will get them on the top of search lists, and they need online marketing advice from real people who understand how to stay one step ahead of their competition and customer expectations,” Brown added.

The Small Business Digital Trends Report was co-authored by David Brown,, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President; and Dr. David Ricketts, Chief Innovation Officer, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University.