Why Small Businesses need a website.
As a web designer who works with small businesses, you learn a lot about your clients. After working with them I often know as much about their products and services as they do. That insight helps me when it comes to new suggestions on their site or giving them new ideas on how to grow their online presence.
Conversely, though I have heard a lot of the issues that brought them to me. All the horror stories and excuses as to why a company doesn’t have a website. There are a few commonalities in what I have been told though. One is how expensive they think a website is to develop. Another being that they do not have time to keep up it. But, one of my favorites is “Why do I need one”?
Don’t Have a Website, You Are Not Alone
Almost half of the small businesses in the U.S. do not have a website. In June, CNBC released the findings of a survey that showed the fear many people still have surrounding technology in that only 45% of small businesses have websites. If that shocking statistic wasn’t enough to make you scratch your head, only 1/3 of businesses that have a site actually use them. That means 2/3 of sites are just there, we will come back to why that is a big issue.
The fear surrounding websites is not just technology, it has a lot to do with how confusing the internet seems to the common person. Most people would be hard pressed to tell you how Google works or how it finds plumbers in your area when you type in “Need A Local Plumber”. Then there are words like SEO and rankings that make most business owners glaze over. Small business owners have enough on their plate without having to take on learning web design or how to make potential customers find their site. While some will hire a web designer, most will put it on a to do list that may or may not ever get checked off.
Why Google Does Not Like You Being Just “There”
So let’s go back to the sites that are just existing. The internet is where consumers are going to find out information about your businesses. Think of your website like how you would dress for an interview or new client meeting. You would never show up with mismatched shoes or stains and holes in your shirt. If a potential customer finds a website you just” put up” to have a website and it is full of outdated information and broken pages they are going to move on. They will not call you or email you because their first impression is you don’t care.
There is also a technical reason untouched sites are negative. Google doesn’t like them. Leaving your site “there” does more harm than good. Google only promotes websites that are active (meaning they are touched at least once a month with fresh content). It will push your site out of searches, that means when local customers are looking for a moving company, you might have the best in the area but they will never know. Why? Because the website you created in 2009 has never been updated and Google thinks you may or may not exist. Your competitor, on the other hand, will get the call though. Why? Because they have their site updated monthly with a blog and have a diagnostic check done monthly to make sure links are working.
So if I Build a Site The Business Will Come Pouring In?
Many times, I hear from businesses who are contemplating re-doing an old site that they did not have much traffic or sales from it. A common misconception is that when a website is built and people will just be able to find it. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Your site needs search engine optimized (SEO). When I design a site, there are certain things I need to make sure are input to help with its optimization. SEO though is an ongoing thing just like maintaining a site it needs to be done regularly to ensure it is working for you. The more effort put into SEO, the more favorable your site is to Google and other search engines. That means the higher you come up in searches leading to more clicks to your site and more customers.