This post was originally published March 2, 2017, and has been updated to reflect new information.
Your business’s website is the cornerstone of a solid digital presence—a necessity in today’s world. Research shows that consumers favor businesses that have websites. It’s surprising how many small businesses out there still don’t have one at all!
What if customers know your business exists, but they can’t find you online and see what you have to offer? Or how to reach you? With more than 3.58 billion Internet users worldwide, websites are more important than ever.
Here are three simple reasons why.
Your website is available 24/7/365.
Keeping your information accessible to your customers is important. You can’t always be in your store or manning the phone or answering emails—you have a life outside of your business! (Presumably.)
At the same time, your customers have their own daily responsibilities—work, kids, alpaca farms—so they may not always be able to call or visit when you’re open, and you should allow for that. Make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find the information they need in order to make the decision to buy—and let them do it on their own schedule.
If you’re closed for the day, but you can make the information customers are looking for available anyway, why wouldn’t you? Products, services, hours, location, who you are, why you do what you do, how to contact you, customer testimonials—these are all things you’re denying prospects by not having a website for them to look at when you’re unavailable.
And what about retail stores? Limiting customers to shopping in person and during store hours only could be losing you a significant amount of revenue. eCommerce is growing, and it opens up a whole new customer base that’s not dictated by geography.
You’re easier to find—online and off.
Your website is the primary source that directories pull information from to populate their listings. Most businesses don’t have a dedicated presence management strategy—who has time to manually claim 300+ listings? That’s why we offer that as a service.
So if you’re not doing it yourself or using a listing service, it’s critical to have a website to provide vital information, like business name, address, phone number, hours, and other contact information. Many directories will include additional info, like what products and services you offer—but only if that information is available in the first place.
Have you ever searched for a business and found conflicting information? They show up in a few directory listings, but the addresses don’t match or the phone numbers are different? It makes you feel like you can’t trust it. If there’s also a website, well, you should be safe—that information is more trustworthy because it’s coming directly from the business.
But what if there isn’t a website? No website and three contradictory directory listings? Most people would rather just run a new search on a competitor than try to call or visit a business without knowing for sure they have the right info. We’re busy people, and it’s much faster and easier to double click in the search bar and start over instead.
And finally, we come to the power of SEO.
81% of consumers perform online research before making a purchase, and a business with a website is much easier to find online. Organic ranking depends on multiple factors—keywords, quality content, user-friendliness, and the relevance of your pages to the search query—and they all come from your website.
To put it simply: if you don’t have a website, then your website isn’t going to rank in search. But do you know what will? Your competitors’ websites.
Side Note: Does your business have a physical location? If you work from your home, you’re actually not eligible to have a Google My Business listing. You can’t list a P.O. box, and technically it’s against the rules to use a home address.
The rules are less stringent for other directories, but if the only address you can list is a mailbox or your home, do you even really want to? A mailbox instead of a physical address can affect your credibility with a potential customer, whether that’s justified or not. And as for your home address—do you really want that listed across the internet? I didn’t think so.
Point being, in the absence of directory listings, having a website that will rank organically becomes doubly important.
A survey by YP found that 30% of consumers will write a business off altogether for not having a website. Another from Time Warner Cable Business Class reported that up to 50% of those surveyed said they might not buy from a company without a website.
On the other hand, research from BrightLocal shows that 36% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business with a website. Given the growth rate of technology and our reliance on it with each new generation, these numbers are practically guaranteed to keep increasing.
To a brand new customer, one who hasn’t heard of you from a friend but is simply searching for your product or service—no website = not a legitimate business. The lack of a website gives the impression that you’re not serious about what you do, and that’s the last image you want a potential customer to have.
It should also not be overlooked that your website is the perfect place to display customer testimonials and reviews, another important factor in establishing trust and credibility. The findings of BrightLocal’s Consumer Review Survey, updated for 2017–18, bear this out:
Your business needs a mobile-friendly, responsive website to help draw customers in—and then keep them by giving them a good user experience. The returns you’ll see from having a website will far outweigh its initial expense.
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Catherine has a degree in English literature and a passion for all things marketing. As Digital Specialist, her focus is on web design, search engine optimization, social media, online presence management, and project coordination.