It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway:
Small businesses need a website.
And not just “a” website, a website that actually works. The days of throwing a site up on a free host with animated gifs, scrolling text, bouncing clip art, and a few pictures is over. That just won’t cut it anymore. These days, your site needs to be able to be accessed and navigated on virtually any internet-connected device, provide useful, current information, and make it easy to find that information. And by ‘information’, I don’t mean an electronic version of your brochure. A website needs to be well thought out, easy to use, and time-saving for everyone involved. And it needs to look good.
But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the why. Why should a small business have a website. Even if they are busy enough without a website.
You stop being invisible.
Think about it: you need a leaky sink fixed. Where do a majority of people go? The internet. A quick search later they’ve found someone, read reviews on that person or company, and found a phone number. But how many people weren’t considered because Google didn’t know they existed?
You help control your rankings.
You know what you do, but do search engines? While you can’t just list the search terms you want to show up as #1 for and magically show up there, you can bump your rankings up with the proper use of keywords, relevant links, etc.
You create another sales tool.
A website is an excellent way to increase sales and close sales started using other methods. You can provide answers frequently asked questions so customers don’t have to call you to get answers. You can create easy ways for potential customers to contact you (ie: a quick and easy form). You can essentially provide everything potential, current, and past customers need in an organized, easy to use format, that can also save you countless hours on the phone answering the same questions over and over again.
You create an after-hours office.
Your office is closed, but a potential customer needs information. They can come back the next day during business hours to get the information they need, if they remember to, or they can go to your website and either find the information they need or send you a message. Which way do you think they’d prefer?
You create a personal billboard.
A website will create a way for you to provide updates and news to five people or a thousand people, once a month or every day, without costing a cent more. (Just like this blog.)
All this is great, right? It is, but your website has to be easy to use, easy to update, and actually look good. You remember those animated graphics from the 90s? And how sites from that time had the tiled backgrounds with all the text in a single column? Well, if I’m a customer, and I see that on your site, I’ll either figure you went out of business years ago or assume the information on the site isn’t current, and continue looking for someone else.
In other words, an bad website can make you lose customers. You want your website to make you gain customers and help the ones you already have. Is your website doing that?