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Would You Visit An Anonymous Blog or Website Twice?

Staci Wood, our Program Manager here, started a discussion thread over at the new Small Biz Trends Facebook [1] group entitled “Blogging Pet Peeves.” That triggered some advice that I’d like to share with you about “anonymous” blogs and websites.

We get tips here at Small Business Trends about new blogs [2] or new websites over a dozen times a week. More than half we pay no attention to.

Why?  Because of one simple reason: I do not know who is behind the site.

Typically in those situations, we get contacted with an email like this:

Firstname-at-gmail.com writes and says “I just started a blog (or, discovered a great site) at xyz123site.com. It’s got some wonderful resources that your readers might find interesting. Check it out (or, would welcome your feedback, or is this something your readers would find valuable).”  Signed  …  “John.”

Often there is no last name in the email. Or it’s such a generic name that it smells a little fishy (“John Smith”).  There is no signature block with contact information in the email — nothing.

OK, so the “anonymous” or “semi-anonymous” nature of the email is a bit of a red flag. But I go visit the site and have a look-see anyway.

Unfortunately, the anonymity continues. Upon arriving at the site, you find nothing to indicate who owns the site. There’s no About section to tell you more about the company or people behind the site. You find no link to any related business website or corporate parent site. If it’s a blog, the name of the person writing the articles or blog posts is missing.  Or it just shows a first name such as “John.”

There is no copyright notice with the name of an individual or business. You find no pictures of real people who work at the business or who write the blog. Most telling, you find no address, phone number or email contact information.

The problem is, even if it’s a good site with good content or an interesting resource that small businesses might find valuable, the anonymous nature of it means I won’t write about it. Today, with so many scraper sites and fake sites pushing special agendas, it’s hard to tell what the motives may be.

The site could well be legitimate. I suspect some are.  Maybe those behind the site are just shy about revealing information publicly.

But without any identifying information, first-time visitors will be far less likely to trust your site.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I want to develop relationships with real honest-to-goodness people and real businesses.  You can’t do that with anonymous sites.

So here’s a bit of advice.  The chances of getting us to pay attention to a business website or blog skyrocket if we know who the real people are behind it.  Even if you have a really good reason for keeping the site anonymous (maybe it’s a personal blog and you don’t want your employer to know), at least introduce yourself in your email.

But maybe I’m off base.  How do you feel about anonymous websites:

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