UPDATE: This why do I need a website for my business? post was originally published on 16 April 2018 and was updated on 13 May 2020.
Many small businesses start out selling products or services to friends, family members or local consumers in the neighborhood. Most of their sales usually depend on word-of-mouth referrals as news of their business quickly spreads around the community. So at a certain point, some of these small business owners are going to wonder: ‘Why do I need a website for my business?’
You need a digital presence so you can attract a wider audience and start selling goods and services to people outside your personal network.
Every small business is a unique case. Some small business owners might think that they don’t have the funds to create their own website, at least at this stage, and they might wonder if it’s worth it. Fortunately, building a website has never been easier, even for people who aren’t exactly tech-savvy.
If you’re wondering how to design a website for your company, read on to learn more about the benefits of having one as well as how to make it as effective as possible.
What kinds of companies need websites to succeed?
Small business owners have a lot of options when it comes to getting their products and services online.
Ecommerce shops like Etsy, Amazon and iCraft Gifts can be a great way for artisans and resellers to make a quick buck online by piggybacking off of these pre-established websites, but that’s not true for some companies.
If you own a company that offers more services than products, you should probably have your own website because:
- Amazon and other eCommerce websites don’t lend themselves well to service providers.
- Having a website gives you a chance to talk at length about the benefits of working with your company.
- You have complete control over how your own website looks and works — from product listings to return policies.
Even if you sell products on the marketplaces, it’s a good idea to have your own website so you can start building relationships directly with your customers. And if you run a B2B company, you should definitely have a website, as most of your clients will want as much information about your company as possible.
The benefits of having your own website
Having your own website gives your company authority. It shows consumers that you’ve put in the time and effort to create a digital space that’s reserved entirely for your company. It also gives you the freedom to design a space that resonates with your target audience. You can showcase your logo, highlight certain products and services that are popular with your consumers, and create unique content that gives them valuable information.
With a website, people will be able to find you more easily online when they’re searching for your products and services.
And if you have both a marketplace account and a website, consumers will see multiple listings for your company when they search for products and services on Google. If you rank within the first 10 slots, you can expect to get a lot of traffic to your website and more revenue.
How to design a website: The big picture
You don’t need technical skills to build a website these days. Website building platforms like Websites + Marketing let you build a website or online store in just a matter of minutes. All you have to do is buy a domain and choose from one of the many templates or themes to get started building.
Customize your template or theme by swapping out images, creating headings and banners and writing a few paragraphs that welcome users to your website.
Catch their eye with vivid images or an embedded video from YouTube or Vimeo. Most websites have a menu or a navigation bar at the top that tells visitors where to go. You can list different categories for all the products and services you want to sell, or you can direct them to a contact page if they want to get in touch with your business or place an order online.
For those with some technical skills, WordPress is a good option. It’s fairly easy to use and is known for how easy it is to customize. Thanks to a universe of plugins (many free), you can add all sorts of features to your WordPress website — from automatic backups and social sharing to a shopping cart.
Not interested in handling the regular security patches and updates that come with WordPress? Managed WordPress gives you all the fun without any of the fuss. And if even that much is more than you’re up for, you can hire a developer to set your site up for you.
Getting search engines to notice you
Once you have a website, you can start implementing some search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, so your website has a better chance of being one of the first results to appear on Google when someone searches a particular term or phrase.
SEO can be a bit overwhelming for some small business owners, but it’s not as difficult as it might seem. You’ll need to research a few keywords related to your business using a tool like Google AdWords free keyword planner and then use them in the content on your website. This might be the text on your home page that introduces the customer to your business, a description of a certain product or service or one of the many articles you’re posting on your company’s blog.
Blogging is one of the most effective ways to grow your business, and you can’t build a blog on Amazon or Etsy.
But blogging is also about providing consumers with valuable information about your business and your products and services. In fact, 47 percent of buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a company. Consumers like learning as much as they can about a product or service before opening their wallet and entering their credit card information.
Whether you’re just getting started with SEO or you’re trying to break into the coveted top five search results, you can always consider hiring a professional SEO consultant to jump start your SEO campaign. They will be able to help facilitate the keyword research and the on-page optimization tasks; they’re a vital resource in educating small businesses so they can achieve search engine success.
‘Why do I need a website for my business’ explained
There are clearly pros and cons of building your own website vs. hiring a developer to build one for you, so make sure to do your research and understand the benefits along with the specific limitations of both options. At the end of the day, a live website is better than no website. So, don’t get frustrated — embrace the process. And always remember, you can improve or upgrade your site in time.