Missed Opportunities #2: Is Your Website A Cardboard Replica?

These Missed Opportunities posts are always triggered by some conversation I’ve had in the last 24 hours. This was a remark I’ve heard so many times. “I spent good money to get a website and I’ve seen no action as a result. What a waste of money.” It’s an all too common reaction among small and mid-sized business owners. So why is this?

Well perhaps all you’ve been sold is a ‘cardboard replica‘. Some will instantly relate to one of the crazy quotations from the Goonshow on the BBC. This program ran from 1951 to 1960 and is still remembered fondly by anyone who heard it. The ‘cardboard replica’ quote was made by Ned Seagoon, played by Harry Secombe. He came up with this suggestion at one point. “This is it – build a full-scale cardboard replica of England, anchor it off the coast of Germany, then, when the Germans have invaded it, we tow it out to sea… and pull the plug out.

If you’re Russian, then you may relate better to the question, “Is your website a Potemkin village?“. Supposedly Grigori Potemkin tried to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to the Crimea in 1787 by creating false ‘Potemkin villages‘ to impress her with the value of her new conquests.

What we’re talking about in both cases is a facade that looks impressive but in behind there is nothing. A well constructed website can be a powerful selling force if designed and used correctly. Those who have such websites find they’re the very best investment in marketing and selling dollars. However it takes a very knowledgeable web designer to create such a website. Only a small fraction of web designers have the skills to handle this. Too many create the equivalent of a cardboard replica.

One aspect of this is how they appear to the search engines. Search engines tend to look behind the facade. You can very quickly check whether your website seems to be a cardboard replica to the Google search engine. Do a Google search, say for your company name, which lists your website among the chosen references. At the end of the short few lines about your website, there will be a link called Cached. This is the version that Google has seen. On that Cached page, there is a line saying ‘Click here for the cached text only‘. That really is the content that Google is seeing behind the facade. You may be shocked to find there’s nothing or very little there. No wonder you’re not too happy with your ‘cardboard replica’.

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