It seems obvious, but John Mueller is wrong. The recent outage of Facebook’s entire infrastructure left many businesses high and dry that relied entirely on a single marketing channel like Instagram (for instance). If anyone sold products exclusively on one of these platforms, they essentially ceased to exist for those 6 hours. Now obviously this is an extremely rare blue-moon type event. But you have to wonder about the wisdom of having just one marketing channel for your products and services. Especially if that channel isn’t under your control. There’s simply no substitute for your own website presence.
Is John Mueller Right? Should You Deprioritize Your Website?
When some Twitter users commented on something to this effect, John Mueller from Google chimed in:
His point is that small businesses don’t have the resources or the expertise to do a good job on multiple channels, and their websites suffer as a result. He says that there are a lot of “terrible SMB websites”. While this is undoubtedly true, there are many fantastic ones as well. The lesson is that some people do a good job and some do a bad job. The takeaway is NOT “Oh, let me get rid of my website entirely”.
Apart from being wrong in so many ways, the outage on October 5th, 2021 highlights the importance of having your own web presence. Something that you control, and which no one can take away from you. It’s an asset built over years, and which only grows with time.
Why Are We Listening to Google/Mueller Anyway?
You know how brands use celebrities to add credence to their product even when there’s no connection between the two? Just because you’re good at acting or are handsome, doesn’t qualify you to recommend breakfast cereal. Similarly, John Mueller and Google have expertise in search. That means we should listen to them when they comment on search-related issues – what helps and what hurts. And even then, we should take everything Google says with a pinch of salt.
But what makes them qualified to talk about business strategy? And why do SEOs on Twitter hang onto every word Mueller says with deference? It annoys me no end. These guys need to stick to their lane and comment on search alone. It’s time we stopped treating them like high priests. They’re in no way qualified to give advice on whether or not SMBs should have a website presence.
Channels Come and Go – the Web is Forever
No matter how dominant a particular channel seems now, these things can turn out to be transient. Just a decade ago, Facebook seemed invulnerable. Now their market growth among the next generation has stalled, and users flock to other websites. Granted, Facebook and WhatsApp are also owned by Facebook! But this is of little consolation to business owners who spent years of time and money building up their Facebook pages.
Similarly, there are entire businesses that run on eBay or even WhatsApp. These sites depend on fashion for their continued existence. As long as large numbers of people use them, you’re good. But fashion is a fickle mistress.
Your website, on the other hand, will always be with you. The Internet isn’t going out of fashion any time soon. Your web host can experience downtime, sure. But your domain name is safe as long as you take regular backups – which NameHero conveniently provides for free!
It’s Not Hard to Maintain a Website Presence
You don’t need to continually pump out content. Just ensure that your theme is modern, your plugins are updated, and you have decent hosting. NameHero can automatically install WordPress and keep your site updated. Automatic daily and weekly offsite backups ensure that your data is always safe, while continuous security monitoring removes the worry of being hacked.
If you don’t want to dedicate too much attention to your website, that’s fine. But you must have a web presence to start with!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!