There are so many positive benefits for small businesses to create and maintain a business website.
However, I’ve watched as so many avoid creating one or maintaining an existing one due to time constraints and instead opt for a short-term, reactive approach to marketing and sales.
Opting to market yourself using social media or paid advertising without a robust website is a waste of your time and money as you don’t have a base to send your traffic to to find out more about your business.
You also lose out on building up your authority with search engines like Google who silently index and rank you for select keywords and keyphrases.
Our audiences are not just on social media when they are online, they use search, they look for recommendations and ensuring that your website is seen and heard ensures that you can be found by them when they search for you.
In this post, I aim to help persuade you, the small business owner looking to promote your business online using your website, the benefits of why you should consider taking the time to invest in one or update the one you already have.
The benefits of doing this will ensure that your business is seen online by more of your ideal customers.
Aren’t websites dead?
Don’t believe the hype: websites aren’t going anywhere.
There are 1.88 billion websites online today and the figure is going up.
It’s inexpensive as a small business owner to get a website and begin to have an online presence when you first start out.
It’s also the main way that you are able to get found by search engines.
Google and Bing are limited with how much content they can crawl on social media platforms like Facrbook, Instagram, LInkedIn and TikTok. Only Twitter is super-search friendly but it’s hard to build a presence using character-limited Tweets.
You also have the ability to craft the information about your business in a way that you control and that makes it easier for your ideal customers to find out more about you.
A website is a collection of web pages navigated to by a menu system. Social media platforms may let you tag posts with hashtags but it’s going to be much easier for your ideal customer to find your prices if they can just visit a page called ‘Prices’.
What website platform should you use?
Squarespace, WIX, WordPress, Weebly, Joomla, Drupal… or Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, Big Cartel…what does what, and more importantly, what platform is right for your business??
If you have been researching what platform is right for you and your business, then it can be a minefield to understand the differences and what will work for you and your small business right now.
Squarespace, WIX, and Weebly have all found success in recent years with business owners that want to get up and running quickly with their website.
The designs are modern and easy-to-use and the functionality that they supply work, if you have configured it correctly.
However, you pay for that level of support and a starter package for most site builders is around $15 a month, which adds up to £150+ a year. Any extras, like enabling a shop function or more designs could cost you more.
The alternative to these is WordPress, which for many years had the reputation of being a blogger’s platform.
You can create an account on their own hosted version over on wordpress.com for free (paying for minor upgrades to access certain functionality) or download the code from wordpress.org for free and host it yourself.
The hosted code bit has put many business owners off from doing it themselves and there has still been a massive reliance on developers to get a site set up for your business.
However, the secret to WordPress is that it is so well supported out there on the internet, because the code is “free” (or open source) that you could not only get the code installed on your hosted account without a developer to help you, but you could also find a theme, set up plugins to ensure the site is secure and scale it as you grow your business.
The proof is in the usage. Currently, WordPress powers 30% of all websites on the internet.
What if you already have a website?
If you already have a website, then ask yourself when was the last time you updated it and ensured it had been maintained?
Does it still make sense to your ideal customers and would they interact with it when they land on it?
Do you have Google Analytics installed (a website traffic tracking tool) and are you monitoring the time spent on your website’s key pages?
Is anyone even looking at your prices page?
Before investing in the time, energy and budget to drive traffic to your website you need to know the answers to these questions or else you’ll be making pointless changes to your site that won’t encourage engagement or sales.
Start with your call-to-action
First impressions count and in the world of websites you have less than 50 milliseconds to seduce your website visitors into hanging around and finding out more about you and your business (source).
This first user experience depends on several factors: form, colours, spacing, symmetry, text length, fonts and more.
If you can get the mix of these right and have your user hang around a fraction of a second longer than usual then it could be the difference between earning money for your business or just having a pretty website.
Here’s how to assess your website:
Then optimise your website for search engines
We search before we think these days, choosing to ask Google the answer to questions that we have.
Your ideal customer is doing the same when they are looking for the answers to the problems that you solve.
You need to be found for the keywords and phrases that they are searching for in order to be seen on the search engine results pages.
As a business owner it’s an attractive marketing tactic as it’s free to get your site indexed by Google. All you need to do is ensure that your site can be found.
To do that you need to be ‘Google-friendly’ because it has such a massive market share.
Your website needs to contain the keywords you want to be found for and you need to be outputting relevant and useful content around these keywords on a regular basis. Using search engine optimisation (SEO) tools like Yoast on WordPress to ensure your site is presenting those keywords correctly is key in being seen.
Then using the Google Search Console to monitor your progress means you can improve and optimise.
Ready to start?
Starting and maintaining a website can seem overwhelming to many business owners.
It’s very possible to build your own website using one of the options above or outsourcing this to a professional.
If you already have a website, then it’s worth reviewing it to see if it makes sense to your ideal customer and it’s clear how they can do business with you once.
Ask your users their opinion through online surveys and one-to-one discussions to dive into the heart of this.
Once this has been addressed you have the ability to be seen by your ideal customers using search engines to find businesses like yours.
The eventual outcome will ensure your website will be found by your users when they search for the answer to their problem and you have the ability to convert them to clients.
Thanks so much for reading and I hope that this article inspires you to either get a website sorted or review how your existing one is looking online right now.
If you want some extra help, be sure to sign up to my free 5-Day Supercharge Your Website Challenge. It’s a fun way to assess your website and get direct advice on the steps you need to take to get it seen by more of your ideal customers.
I’m Vicki Jakes, and I help businesses like yours find your ideal customers online by getting your website marketing-ready.
You know, in a place where you’re not ashamed to send traffic to it or “forget” to share your URL when asked!
I have over 13 years working for digital marketing agencies, delivering big-build websites and campaigns and over 20+ years experience building websites.
Leading teams of developers, designers, copywriters, user-experience specialists and testers for global clients as a project manager (and then director) put me in the unique position of seeing online marketing projects from both sides: client and maker.
Now I work with small business owners, providing that same expertise and experience, getting you up and running quickly with your own website and driving traffic to it using SEO, email marketing and ads.