Do you really need a website?

Every small business needs a website. Right? Similarly to everything else associated with your business, it is best to understand the costs and the benefits of having a website.

You have a business and want everyone to know that you sell products/provide services.  All you need is a website.  Launching a website is easy. Right?  There are free options to click, drag, & drop your way to a fine looking final product, and there are endless low-cost options to do so.   However, before you embark on the mission, you may want to think through your needs, consider the true cost of building & maintaining a website, and quantify the benefits of having one.

What is Presence?

As you begin the journey toward a website, consider presence, specifically online presence.  Prior to the internet, presence consisted of signages and physical locations.  For example, ice cream shops on the Atlantic City boardwalk probably see more foot traffic than the ones next to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole.  In the same geography, stores with the largest signs are more noticeable and attract more visitors.   The internet added an online component to presence and changed the paradigm from simply location to a combination of technology & algorithm.  Basically, the size of your business sign is replaced with how effectively you can convince search technology that you are what you want to be.

Online presence is a company’s collective existence on the web.  A website is one component of that existence.  Online presence includes social media pages, text & video posts, blogs, online reviews, and much more.

What’s Needed?

Most businesses truly just want a corporate presence on the web.  This is a location that provides an overview of the company’s products & services, lists contact information, and possibly presents some other content to build credibility (e.g., case studies or testimonials).  Generally, these are very static and rarely updated.  Most corporate presence sites are like erecting a billboard in the middle of a forest.  It might be wonderful, but no one will see it.  Search engines want to see relevant, fresh content.  An infrequently updated page containing listings of your services won’t be ranked well and won’t appear in searches.  Depending on your business, corporate presence may be effectively satisfied with a Facebook or LinkedIn page.  These can contain all of your company’s information.  You can send prospects and clients there, and benefit from being on the platforms that are frequently used by your target demographic.

You may want more advanced website features, like ecommerce.  Once again, these can be supported on your company’s website but are more easily implemented in third party platforms.  Implementing on a platform reduces initial cost and makes it easier to drive traffic to your offerings.  Using a standalone website means you are solely responsible for on-going activities to improve the visibility of your online presence.

How do you Decide?

In the online world, it’s best to start small, evaluate results, and then build on successes.  Initially, spend more time documenting your requirements and evaluating the best course of action.  If you want to get started quickly, create a simple corporate presence site or a Facebook/LinkedIn page.  Don’t commit a significant budget to the website or associated activities, like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) until you have a plan, understand the costs, and define metrics to measure value.

If you need help, give us a call, 860.251.8003, for a no cost Online Presence Evaluation.


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