March 27, 2015

5 Benefits of Having a Website for Your Small Business

Last week at SmallBizTrends I shared the statistic that 47 percent of small business owners still weren’t using social media because they didn’t feel it was important to their business. That post spurred a lot of strong comments, both on site here and on Facebook. Eventually the conversation went from whether SMBs should invest in social media to whether they even need a Website or an Internet presence at all.

I really wish we could stop having this conversation.

You probably know some businesses who are doing phenomenally well without a website. I do, too. But I often wonder how much better they could be doing if they took the time to invest in one. And when I say “website,” I don’t mean an electronic version of that brochure they’ve been handing out for the past 10 years. I mean a legitimate, well-thought-out site that is designed to inform, engage and convert their audience.

Here are just a few benefits that come along with creating a usable website for your small business. Let me know why you think it is (or isn’t) important for a SMB to have a website in 2011.

1. You stop being invisible.

I’m not trying to be flippant, but by creating a website you stop being invisible to the people trying to find you online. More and more studies are telling us about the ROBO effect where customers are learning to research online before buying offline. They’re typing their problems or needs into the search engine of their choice and are researching the companies that appear for those queries. If you don’t have a Web presence, there’s no chance of you showing up and you never even enter into their thought process. In 2011, you can’t afford to be invisible.

2. You help control your rankings.

While you can’t simply rattle off a list of search terms you want to be found for, you can use search engine optimization basics to help control where your site shows up and for which queries. By creating optimized content, building relevant links and creating a brand that customers want to engage with, you set yourself up as an authority in the eyes of the search engine and increase your chances of appearing for the right queries – the ones paying customers are using to find businesses just like yours. Creating an optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms.

3. You create another sales tool.

A website is a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, give them the information they need to make a decision and create compelling calls to action. Sure, you can keep placing ads in the Yellow Pages and hope that word-of-mouth generates on its own…or you can build something that inspires it to happen. Your website is your home turf where people can go to seek out trusted information about your company and engage with you on a more personal level. Use it to build confidence in your brand and to give customers important buying information (and incentives).

4. You build authority.

Though the Web has been around for some time, it’s true that you didn’t always need a website to find your audience. It was a lot easier to market via direct mailings, Yellow page ads and local word-of-mouth. However, today your website and your social presence are the factors that customers are looking for when they research a small business. They want to know that you’re stable enough to have a dedicated Web presence. That you’ll be around tomorrow should something go wrong. That they can get ahold of you when they need to. By creating a website, you set up shop on the Internet and show customers that this is where they can come to find information about you, to read articles that you’ve written and to learn more about your company. All of these things build authority. Without a website, you’re at a huge disadvantage as a small business owner trying to speak to your customers.

5. You build an email list.

Even if you hate the Web, you probably still like email. I bet you even collect emails from your customers by hand so that you can keep them up to date on what’s happening in-store. Having a website allows you to do all of that better because it makes it easier, faster and provides even more incentive for someone to sign up. Create a site that users can trust and then use it to build your email list. Along with your website, that list just may end up being one of your strongest sales tools.

Those are just five important reason for a small business owner to create a Web presence. Why do you have one? Or why don’t you have one?


Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

31 Reactions

  1. It’s amazing to me that in 2011 we’re still making a case for SMB to have a website. It’s comparable to making a case that all businesses should have phones! But alas, there really are SMB business owners that don’t get it, and probably never will. It’s called “Darwinism.”

  2. Agreed! I would think that we were past the web site case and had at least moved to whether a Blog was worthy…

  3. With #4 I would equate “authority” to “credibility”. Thus your site needs to have an attractive design and correct information. You don’t want to look spammy or you could actually lose trust and credibility.

  4. A website is a crucial tool in the marketing toolbox!

  5. Don’t forget to add a “Contact Us” page to give web visitors an easy way to contact your business. People are not going to the Yellow Pages to find your contact information, instead make it readily available on your website.

    When creating a website for your small business you should also focus on promoting what makes your business unique to stand-apart from the competition.

    Follow us on Twitter: @BopDesignSD

  6. While it seems to me almost all businesses have a website, many of these sites are very static and “brochure-y” as Lisa mentions above. Maybe that and a phone number work well enough, but when it’s pretty cost effective to update and get blogging, businesses may as well jump in.

    A dynamic, starter format for small businesses can be a simple template with a frequently updated blog. Where at first websites were all about the art, now design for conversion and keyword optimization has reached the same status. I would even say the importance of art/design is waning. Anyone reading this can download my “Business Blog Start Up Kit” at my website. In workbook format, it’ll take you through what you need to do to start blogging step by step.

    Thank Lisa. I really like Small Biz Trends.

  7. I personally sell a special service, “for small Business & StartUps” and I see every day that at first owners reject my offer but when they see our reviews they relax. For us is very simple, if you don’t have a website nowadays is like if you didn’t have a business card 10 years ago.

  8. With the way the economy is now, how can you NOT afford to have a website for your business? More and more brick-and-mortar stores are getting online because they see a chance to increase their sales without increasing their overhead a significant amount. Why settle for customers in your local market when you can have customers across the nation, or even the world. The points you made only make the argument stronger.

  9. A small business should seriously consider a website. People need to know a business exists in order to build a customer base. Also, it provides a wider presence than just being local. People from all over will be able to see the service.

  10. Good post Lisa. I had no idea that a large contingent of small businesses had no website. Cost is probably an issue, but today’s sites can be very inexpensive.

  11. Keep beating that drum Lisa ! I keep hearing “we’ve got a website” and “none of our customers are on the internet”. Well — it’s quite possible that folks can’t find that 1998 Frontpage antique on the internet. If people can’t find you, they are not your customers. Ergo: None of your customers are on the internet.

    Good job Lisa :)

  12. I agree wholeheartedly with you. As an online marketing firm, we are constantly explaining to businesses why they need a website – the HUB of their online presence. A new objection is that having free Facebook page can replace a website. But in our view everything should connect back to your home base, the website.

    Another thing I will add is the common undervaluing of content. Not everyone is a good writer, let alone a persuasive marketing writer, so investing in help to create good, effective and optimized content is just as important as having the site itself.

    Thanks for the article!

  13. I know that some older, established businesses think along the lines of, “We’ve been doing fine 25 years without a website, why do we need one now?” Other businesses are just paralyzed by the lack of time, difficulty, huge number of options, or cost. My company, Onepager, tries to fix the difficulty aspect by making it easier than WordPress or Blogger for a small business owner to create a site.

  14. Here are two additional barriers that may prevent some small business owners from creating a website. (1) Some owners are not comfortable with technology. This is common in some of my website clients. But if a business owner finds the right web designer, he/she can guide the process and explain the unknowns. (2) Cost – some business owners may think it will cost a lot to develop a website. But actually there are many great low-cost, professional looking options like WordPress.

  15. Thanks for the post Lisa.
    how many small businesses still don’t have a website? I’ve heard it is about 50% but I just can’t believe it. We’re in 2011.
    With WordPress there is no excuse for anyone not to have a website. You can by plug and play themes to make your site look just about any way you want for not a lot of money.

    Thanks again

  16. For many businesses, if the website brings in even one or two additional customers, it pays for itself! If you’re in business, you can’t afford NOT to have a website.

  17. Absolutely a website is a must for a small business. you are more likely to get the work if you show much more information about you and your business. Customers want to know more about the services or products you offer.

  18. This is a great article as a wake up call for small business owners to consider innovating and adapting to the Internet and social media presence. They might be spending money on a website, but actually, it is an important investment that has a great return.

  19. I find it strange that the 47 percent who don’t have websites, look to the web if they want to find a business ? I post video’s of my work on You Tube, full films for free and business has increased by 100 percent. Direct link from my website.

  20. Small businesses should definitely have a website when starting up. Its a great way of promoting their brand and if optimised correctly can generate a lot of new traffic. It may take some time, but if you are patient the long term results are significant.

  21. Absolutely agree with you. These days having a website is must. It also gives a professional look to the business.

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