A website is a collection of pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at least one web server. When launching a new business, one of the steps many take is to set up and build a website. They do this because having a website serves several functions:
One of the benefits of having a website for small businesses is to be where your customers are. In this digital age, so many of our initial searches for a product or service is online, and if you as a business aren’t visible, then you’re not part of the conversation and are losing out on potential business. There are over 3.5 billion searches on Google per day, and at this very moment, there is someone in your area online and searching for your exact service.
However, it isn’t just enough to have a website, you have to make sure that people can find you online, through either SEO or PPC. There’s a reason so many companies invest in a website with search engine optimisation (SEO): 97 percent of people go online to find a local business, and 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine.
SEO involves increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website. If someone is searching for apples, and you want them to find your website, then using SEO will help to ensure your website is visible for apple related searches.
PPC (Pay Per Click) is advertising for specific keywords. Whereas SEO allows users to find your website through organic (natural) traffic, PPC is effectively forcing the issue by placing a related ad in front of the potential customer should they search for apples.
Your website is your chance to sell yourself, and set yourself apart from your competitors. It is an opportunity to define who you are, what you do, and help potential customers understand how you can help them. Without a website, this can be very hard to do, as potential customers can’t easily find this information out and so can’t easily make comparisons against other businesses in the same sector.
The above needs to done cleverly and coherently, too often poor design and branding has a negative impact on online conversion. So often a website makes a poor first impression, either through poorly placed logos, colours, not straightforward messaging or copy, or simply making it hard for the customer to navigate. Websites need to make the online experience as seamless and as frictionless as possible. Customers should be able to visit your website, find out what it is about, decide if it is what they’re looking for and then make a purchasing decision in seconds, and the harder it is to do this, the more likely your website is more of a hinderance to you and your brand.
Website vs Social Media
Many businesses may think that all of the above can be achieved through a social media page, and in some cases that may be true. Depending on your industry or sector, for many business owners, a social media page may be all they need and that’s fine.
However there are some slight limitations to only having a social media page. The first is dependency, as a business owner you’ll be reliant on the platform that you choose, and this can be especially problematic if things should dramatically change. Algorithms change, rules change, and what’s working one day might not work a few weeks from now (as many businesses who depended on Facebook have recently learned).
Having a website gives you that control and ownership, as well as increases your potential to attract more customers, because Google has a larger reach than the social media platforms.
It is important to remember how often trends change, remember Myspace anyone? If your customers are on Instagram today, they might be on a new platform tomorrow. As people switch from one tool to the next, your website acts as an anchor. No matter what social media service customers prefer, they can always find your website in the same place, available to everyone.
Conclusion: every business needs a website
The case for having a website in today’s world is very strong, but as mentioned earlier it is not just enough to simply build any old website and think the job done. After all, what is the point of having it if no one ever sees it, you need to get eyeballs on your site, and that means using Digital Marketing to help optimise and convert your web traffic. You have to make your website work for you, ensure that you are utilising it in the best possible manner to attract the right type of customer to the website, and then ensure that the messaging, content and user experience gives your customer a good experience to make them want to keep coming back and using your website.