I guess some businesses really don’t want to get found online. To some it just doesn't matter. It might be a good idea if you’re trying to minimize your customer support budget or keep leads from coming in. Maybe those companies are online out of some regulatory expectation or legal obligation.
For small businesses who need to generate leads and connect with potential customers, hiding is really not an option. The best generator of business for a “small business” is not advertising it is word of mouth. According to a survey published in Small Business Trends - 85% of Small Businesses Get Customers Through Word of Mouth. It's your job to provide the necessary words to the required mouths. Here are some strategic decisions you can take if you remain convinced that you don’t want to get found online:
Have a horrible website - Some websites are basically business cards on the internet. They’re not used to attract visitors. Check out Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett is a brilliant investor who’s made a great deal of money for his shareholders over the years. Warren Buffett seems to have no desire to communicate publicly. So his website reflects that image. (The site gets lots of visits though. People go to the site because they already know of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. The evidence is that more than 85% of the visitors who get there are actually searching for Berkshire Hathaway or Warren Buffet) If you choose this method you’d better be famous already.
Keep quiet about your business - How can you hide and get known at the same time? You don’t have to be obnoxious but you do have to promote your business in order to attract customers. Most folks like to keep their heads below the parapet. That’s understandable. It’s tough to take criticism head on. If you want to be noticed however, it will require some strategic and continued exposure. Don’t do it and don’t get found online.
Try to appeal to everybody - If you try to appeal to everybody - nobody will care. Make sure you know the market you’re going after and how to reach those people. Concentrate on the audience who would best benefit from your product or service. Mass marketing doesn’t work for small businesses. It’s expensive and yields few if any results.
Ignore keyword research - To get found online a lot of work needs to be done up front to understand your customers and how they think. Not knowing the way your audience looks for things will keep you from being found. Planning is essential to setting the right direction and knowing what content you’ll create is extremely important. So take the time to plan and research. In the end it will pay dividends.
Forget about SEO - Do you want people to discover you online? If you want to show up in search engine results your website needs to be seen by those search engines as authoritative. What does that mean anyway? You need to generate content that search engines can read efficiently. That means your great content needs to be consistently produced and presented. It means thinking about how search engines read and rank your content. Forget about this and you can forget about showing up in online results
Try to game the system - Unbeknownst to some, the black hat used to be somewhat fashionable, although it was always unsavory, and now it is extremely unfashionable and ineffective. Google penalizes webmasters who use black hat search engine optimization (SEO) to try to ameliorate their web rankings. Of course, no serious webmaster wants to be caught wearing the black hat these days. Make sure to avoid it.
Create old tired spun content - Fresh content, particularly if it is relevant to a niche, is the premier way to rise in the search engine rankings. Some unsavory webmasters find a well-written article, one that they consider the pinnacle of quality, the epitome of style, and they pilfer it, jamming it into a special software program that selects a certain percentage of the words in the article and replaces them all with synonyms. The result is an article that is almost always lower quality than the prototype. Additionally, this is obvious plagiarism. Google and other search engines have their own software to detect spun content, and they punish websites who publish it. Make sure to avoid the temptation of using spun content if you want to be found online.
Leave the analysis to statisticians - If you don’t put in the necessary time to know what’s important you will always be guessing. You must keep evaluating what’s working and what’s not working. If you don’t put the time in you won’t get the results you want. Nobody gets something for nothing. Find out which kinds of content gain traction and which don’t. Learn the statistics that count. Do you know what your conversion rate is? Have you measured your results lately?
Ignore your network - The people you know are likely the people who will also help you get noticed on the internet. I have found that folks who are connected to you on LInkedIn, Twitter and other social networks are often happy to help out. I know I am happy to promote and share interesting things when I find them. Set time aside to interact with your network often. Be consistent and try to be interesting. One of the best ways not to get known is not to share and help others.
Don't try to build your network - I have a great network and I try to interact with them often. I enjoy learning from them, getting tips, and keeping up on the latest things they’re doing. In order to get known more broadly you need to continue to connect with interesting people. This is a key task you should set for yourself. Find interesting people and connect with them.
I am an artist, an analyst, a researcher, and an online development specialist serving the online information industry.