Most business owners already have some understanding of the benefits of having an online presence. A solid web presence communicates credibility, reaches more people, and allows you to sell your products and services merely by existing. However, a 2019 survey report that 40% of small businesses are still not searchable online, with 28% saying that they are not looking to have one even in the future.
Whether because of budget constraints or plain misinformation, some business owners cling on to misunderstandings about web development. In this article, we will discuss the most common misconception and provide some clarification:
Having a web presence does not necessarily mean building a professional website, complete with search engine optimization, SSL certificates, and regular maintenance. While some businesses do benefit from this, your small business can still see results by utilizing the following options:
Social Media: Social media platforms offer a way for small businesses to gain a following, interact with customers, and even post engaging content. Over the years, social media platforms have evolved from being a place to reconnect with friends and family, to eventually incorporating marketplace functions. Unless you’re looking to run ads, most platforms are free, and you can build a following, provided you are willing to put in the time and effort.
Free Hosting: If you’re a bit more technologically savvy, but need to operate on a shoestring budget, you can take advantage of free hosting services. If you’re satisfied with using a subdomain or can make do with limited bandwidth plans, then you can start building a website this way. Keep in mind, however, that free hosting websites often have tight bandwidth caps, and before long, a moderate traffic influx could crash your website.
Specialty Websites: Signing up for specialty websites, such as Yelp, is much like using social media, except that the audience is much more specialized and engaged. For example, Yelp is a website where people go to find local business establishments. Its main feature is its rating system that allows users to give feedback. As of 2018, Yelp has averaged more than 178 million unique views monthly, and 45% of consumers admit to checking a business’s Yelp reviews before making a purchase decision. This is second only to Google, which has 64%. Without an online presence, it’s possible new customers may not even consider you.
Keep in mind that it’s perfectly possible to create a thriving online presence without a website. That being said, a professional website still provides many advantages over the options above, namely:
Because social media platforms are businesses in themselves, they often make changes based on what they think is better for them in the long run. One example is when Facebook began changing its news feed algorithm in 2016, which resulted in the gradual decrease of organic reach. Some sectors interpreted this as a way to pressure businesses to buy more ads to reach more people, though Facebook’s position maintains that they are trying to prioritize “personal moments.”
While platforms continue to evolve to serve the needs of the user, you may still want the flexibility of owning your own website. This means that if you want to add more features, such as signing up for an email list or turning your simple portfolio website into an e-commerce platform, then you can do so at your own discretion.
There are absolutely no downsides to creating a website, and with enough work, you can definitely see results in your bottom line. If your small business still doesn’t have a website in 2020, then you are surely missing out.
Stand Out Advertising offers services in social media marketing, web development, and search engine optimization. If you want to know how you can stand out in marketing, get in touch with us today, and we will have our experts in Buffalo, NY, take care of it for you!