This is a valid question, asked by many (if not all) small business owners. Websites, done correctly, are not a small investment. So are they worth it?
The reality, whether we like it or not, is that small businesses can’t afford to NOT have a website. The way we talk to our potential customers, build relationships, and generate leads has changed dramatically in the last decade. A website is no longer a “nice to have.” Here are a few things to consider when questioning a website investment…
First and foremost, a website gives your small business visibility. It’s your first handshake with your potential customer.
Google estimates that over 60% of searches take place on a mobile device. If you are not visible online, it’s like being completely invisible. The way your customers search for you is dramatically different from a few years ago. No one is looking for you on television, radio, print media, or a phone book. Those things can supplement a website, but other forms of advertising need a website to point customers to.
Having an online presence also legitimizes your business. Right or wrong, if you’ve been in business for 30 years, but people can’t find you online, they will scratch their heads. When choosing between two businesses, one that has a website and one that doesn’t, the one that has a website is going to feel more legitimate and trustworthy to the consumer.
The whole purpose of marketing and advertising is to get the phone to ring, to get a request for information in your inbox, or to get customers through the door. When designed and optimized properly, a small business website is absolutely the best way to generate leads.
In the first place, you are talking to customers where they are looking for you – online. You are also giving your potential customers everything they need right at their fingertips. You are able to describe your services, your business, your pricing, and what sets you apart from your competitor. With a website that tells your story and is properly optimized, you are giving your potential customer exactly what they need, when they need it.
None of what we have discussed so far happens if your website doesn’t rank. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a vital part of a website. Google has over 200 ranking factors — adhering to them and staying on top of them can feel like a full-time job in and of itself.
A website investment is only worthwhile if…
- The website is fully optimized for ranking purposes
- The website is geared toward your industry and potential customers
- The website tells your story in a way that is identifiable, relatable, and different from your competitors
- The website is mobile friendly and delivers a positive user experience
- You have a plan in place to continue to update, nurture, and optimize the site over time, as “set-it-and-forget-it” sites don’t rank as well
Not to be dramatic, but if your website is missing these things, it’s like not having a website at all
Investing in a reputable web developer is definitely worth the investment as websites age. Websites have various components that fall-off over time. As technology develops, those components may cease to be supported by the people and companies who developed them. Without a web developer, you run the risk of your site breaking in a year or two as end of life issues occur. If you rely heavily on your website for leads and sales, this can be a disaster. Having a dedicated web developer means that you have a technical resource who can troubleshoot these issues as they arise and engineer solutions for them.
Search behavior has made it so small businesses can no longer afford to go without a website. The days of “I’ll get a website later,” or “someday,” are behind us. As small business owners, we now have to add a website to the fundamental investments necessary to be and stay in business.