Does Your Business Really Need a Website? (Round 2)

Small business owners are often faced with making difficult financial choices about how to invest their money. One expense that they sometimes question is whether they really need a website.

Almost three years ago, I wrote an article for Insight Magazine, which I’ve republished on this blog, called Does Your Business Really Need a Website? In it, I answered the question at the time with “…no, depending on the industry you’re in, at least for now.”

Now, however, I’d have to disagree…

I think that virtually any business that wants to grow or that needs a steady stream of new clients really does need a website.

Your customers are going online searching for the products or services they need. If you’re not there, you’re not getting their business. If you consider that even a recent survey commissioned by a group formerly known as the Yellow Pages Association showed that more people used search engines than print yellow pages, it’s not hard to see the value in being able to be found online.

But Aren’t There Alternatives to Investing in a Site?
It’s possible to build an online presence using avenues other than a website, including:

Google Places
Yahoo! Local
Bing Local
Facebook Fan Pages
Wordpress (or other) free blogging platforms

In many ways, that’s not an unreasonable strategy. For small business owners with some time and patience, it’s possible to do all of that yourself – and none of it costs anything!

However, I think that may be a risky strategy. I’m quoted in a post on Search Engine Land answering their question, “Does every business need a website?” My response is essentially this: The limitations posed by social media and ‘local’ channels are hard to overcome. You have to abide by their ‘rules’ and it’s hard to really differentiate yourself. Even more problematic, though, in my opinion is the lack of control. I essentially have 100% control over what happens on my own website, but when Facebook decides to make a change to the platform I’m forced to accommodate it whether I like it or not.

There are plenty of affordable options for creating a website, so make the investment, SMBs. Hire a good designer/developer or learn how to do it yourself. It’s an investment that will almost certainly reap benefits for your business.

 

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