An Accidental Casualty – Are You Thinking This Through?

Chalk drawing of speech bubble with question mark Over the last week I’ve received a slew of emails asking for the same thing… “Michelle, where did your search box go?!” and “Please, bring back the search!”

Even my virtual assistant Skype messaged me to ask what I was thinking!

Oops.  It was an accidental casualty in the “war” of re-branding myself.

But here’s my question for you… are you thinking through the actions you take with your website, blog and business?

There’s some smart people out there pushing business bloggers to remove their search boxes.  SMART people.  And they’re right.  But it’s wrong for my blog.

How do you know when to listen to smart advice?  It depends on your goals.

If my main goal is to push you to opt-in to my list and conversion rates (visitor to subscriber to client = $$$), then yes.  Removing that search and offering you my freebies and paid trainings more prominently would lead to higher conversion.

If my main goal is to create a helpful library of information that helps you to create a blog and online presence that attracts clients to you, and I want to do it in a way that says, “Hey, this is a safe space where you can come find what you need to move forward” and gives you the freedom to find that information without a forced opt-in, purchase or jumps through hoops, then removing my search box would not be smart.

And BOTH of those are goals for me.  Of course I want to build a business that makes money, but I also want to create that safe, fun library of information.

How the heck would I ever find the book or info I wanted in a library if I didn’t have a computer to search, or at the very least a card catalog?  (Anyone else remember those and kind of miss them?)

But at 1,000+ posts, allowing search makes sense. If you have fewer posts consider two things:

  • Create a special page for searches with no results where you let people know you didn’t have a post yet about that topic but they can get in touch with you directly (and include a contact form or other way to get in touch) and/or direct them to the solutions you offer for the clients you work with.
  • Monitor searches with a tool like Search Meter so you can see what people are searching for and blog about those topics or offer resources related to the searches.

My search box was an accidental casualty but it illustrated a great point for me.  Keeping my search box around was the right thing to do.  Thanks for asking.

Think it through.  No matter where or who shares the advice, think it through for yourself, keeping in mind what your big picture goals are, okay?

Oh, and choose mentors who allow you to question and help you understand how things apply to YOU and YOUR business.

It’s always okay to question.  We don’t question enough.

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  1. Thanks for writing this, Michelle. I will never get rid of my search box. And I totally agree with you for the whys. It is a personal choice. And I feel that it is very important for people to make their own decisions based on what is best for them … NOT what other people tell them to do because it worked for them (the person making the suggestion).

    This was a hot topic last year or the year before (I forget which) that seemed to spread like wild fire. But I can honestly say that I don’t feel the person I read this from is so much smart as he is “gifted” in manipulating people with his “marketing psychology” — smoke and mirrors. And it makes me sad that so many people get convinced to do things for their business ONLY based on what others tell them to do and NOT looking within and making sure it is what is good for them and their business.

    Your advice ROCKS! “Think it through. No matter where or who shares the advice, think it through for yourself, keeping in mind what your big picture goals are.” So so true! Now THAT is SMART advice!!!
    Kimberly ~ Gypsy recently posted… Monday Magicks ~ Being Authentic and TrueMy Profile

    1. It really comes down to knowing your goals. For many business bloggers, removing that search is a good move, and for almost all of them it’d increase conversion rates. But when we have multiple goals, it’s all a balancing act. :)

      And thought I know that the “customer” isn’t always right, when I get this many emails, that definitely deserves serious consideration. If I’d done it purposefully I would have added it back.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… BlogMy Profile

  2. Thanks for this great reminder Michelle. I recently made a similar change (not a search bar, but changed a pricing structure because it made business sense) and realized after the fact that it wasn’t in the best interest for my business or my clients. I’ve since fixed it. And it still goes against the grain of almost all the advice I get. Yet it’s the right thing to do. Making these little mistakes (and hearing back from my community) really helps me to clarify my brand & remind me of why I do what I do. Which I guess makes me grateful for mistakes?!
    Loralee Hutton recently posted… My Reality of Location IndependenceMy Profile

    1. Yep, it does help clarify doesn’t it? I’ve been working through a lot of those same questions as I look at re-branding and really getting clear on who I’m best at serving. I think we all make mis-steps and have to course correct as we go… just like the GPS – we chart the best path we can with the information we’ve got at the time, and then stop for “recalculating…” as needed.

  3. Good advice. I think a lot of people either do what everyone else is doing, or make changes based on advice that isn’t always one-size-fits-all. Personally, I like going to sites that a searchbox…when there isn’t one, it annoys me. But as you said, depending on the goals, it may or may not be right for some sites.

    Thanks! :)
    Lily recently posted… 10 Reasons Why Buffet-Style Religion is All WrongMy Profile

    1. That’s a good way to put it, Lily. Advice isn’t always “one size fits all.”
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… BlogMy Profile

  4. Dear Michelle,

    Great point! I often times have told people to NOT take advice from people making less money a month then they do.

    Every market and person is different. There are some basics but if you have found a successful action that works for your clients in your niche then you should KEEP it.

    There are always the stories of the multi-millionaires who broke all the “rules”.

    Who knows, maybe you can be one of them.


    Kathy Hadley recently posted… The Aug. 25th Merkabah ActivationMy Profile

    1. You hit it exactly when you said every market is different and if you’ve found what’s working for you keep it. :)

      And I agree completely on listening to people ahead of us in business, with one addition–that person needs to be making more money in the same vertical that I’m in, or with a similar audience, or with the same monetization strategies (and that aspect is the one I’ll learn more from them about).

      Bloggers that make less money than I do, but are making it all in advertising or affiliate promotions are worth my time to listen to because their focus is different and I can learn from them about the specific strategies.

      On the opposite side, I don’t take advice on blogging from coaches making more than I do who don’t blog, but they may have great ideas around business model or a specific niche audience that I can learn from.

      Do I watch? Absolutely! Test? Absolutely! :)

      I’m not a big rule-breaker (hard to believe?) but I’ll take a bigger stand for my audience than $$ because I believe THAT’s what builds a business that makes a difference and has an impact and that kind of business will succeed financially, too.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… BlogMy Profile

  5. Well I am sure glad you put it back. :)

    I wanted to message you too but decided to give you room to work through your rebrand.

    But honestly, I came to your site last week looking for your recommendation on a plugin and was all to pieces when I couldn’t find the search box. LOL!
    Dr. Linette Montae recently posted… Obstacle #5: Will your business be around next year?My Profile

    1. Hey Linette, feedback is ALWAYS welcome. :)

      Your intuition was right though–just working through the re-brand and getting the pieces in place.

      Enjoy the return of the search box! ;)

  6. I would never have thought to remove my search bar, but I guess that’s because I do want to be a resource for people who want to know more about how to “do” social media and on my other blog, about caring for aging parents and loved ones… plus I’m very bad at marketing myself. So I’m very glad to hear you confirm that… for my intentions, I am doing things correctly.

    PS – I not only remember card catalogs, I’m trying to find one for my office. I just know I can use it somehow. :)
    Shelley Webb recently posted… Are You Using the Alt Tags in Your Images Correctly?My Profile

    1. YAY! Someone else who loves card catalogs. (((hugs))) I miss them so much. I know, it took longer, sometimes cards were in the wrong order, but there was something about working to find the exact book I wanted that made it rewarding somehow. :)

      What a cool idea to put one in an office. I bet Pinterest has ideas for that… tag me if you find the perfect use? I need a good excuse, too!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… BlogMy Profile

  7. Hi Michelle,

    Great post. I was used search box though but not anymore. In this experiment I learned that visitors put more attention on what’s the latest post and the most popular posts. Well, that’s enough so far for my blog goal. So I guess if we want to alert visitors on all of our blog content, using search box will be a great idea.
    Okto recently posted… 5 Important Alexa Features to Improve Blog PerformanceMy Profile

  8. Hi Michelle,

    Recently i faced a problem in some of my niche sites which i’ve tried to monetize with Clickbank. I was receiving lot of traffic, but almost nill conversions, however, i followed a guide and increased my conversion rate dramatically. It all depends of visitor psychology.
    Gautham Nekkanti recently posted… Subway Surfers for PCMy Profile

  9. I love a search box! And I noticed it went missing but I was hoping secretly you’d put it back. Which you did! I think it’s fantastic the way you completely started fresh with the minimum I guess and then build upon it. It’s always easy to add something if absolutely necessary, and more difficult to de-clutter afterwards ;)

  10. When I find a piece of information I want for future reference, I either bookmark it or copy it to a folder, it saves a lot of time. I agree with you that guidance from experts, gurus, thought leaders, smart people and the like should not be followed blindly.

    Thanks for your insights.
    Adalia John recently posted… Dig Deep Into Your PotentialMy Profile

  11. Interesting stuff and you’re correct. It is hard for people to discern what’s legitimate advice. For instance, I’m sure you’re getting lots of requests to remove links as I am. For some of those links their sites fit perfectly with the topic, so it makes no sense to ask to remove them. Yet some SEO expert has told the to request it; sigh…

    As for search boxes, I tend to think they’re important on blogs, maybe not so much elsewhere. But what do I know? :-)
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted… Talking Social Media With Joanne DelBalsoMy Profile

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