Why Your Business Doesn’t Need (Just) a Website

Online Solutions Social Media Websites
Online Solutions Social Media Websites

SEO stretches much further than your website

Why Your Business Doesn’t Need (Just) A Website

Everyone wants a website yet today, according to search experts SEOMoz, your website may be as little as 25% of your overall online presence. Websites have been around a while now and it scares me to think that I built my first one during 1996 whilst at uni talking about the joys of snowboarding in Scotland.

Nowadays there’s so many social channels, email, and weird and wonderful advertising methods you can use to reach your current and future customers, yet most businesses still approach online thinking “I need a website”.  Many small businesses still get their friends of their brother in law to build a site that is “not bad, for throwing it together in an evening over a few beers”.  The cost of this approach is usually far more than the money a business saved building a website.

Business shouldn’t ask themselves how much money that cheap website is saving, but how much money it will cost you in the long term. (you can tweet that!).

If you walk into a car dealership you’d very rarely go in and say “I want a car” as you’re likely to walk out with whatever model he’s been trying to get off his yard for the last 6 months, yet businesses still take this approach to online. If you ask many people to design a website then that’s usually what you’ll get, but will you get an overall online presence? In my experience, usually not.

To be fair, this isn’t the fault of business owners : they have businesses to run and quite rightly should be more focused on hiring staff, following up on leads, working out rosters, and thinking about finances. It’s not really the fault of the web developer either. They are experts on HTML, CSS, quirky compatibility issues that are a nightmare to solve, and all the other technologies that are involved in “just a simple website”. The majority of web developers aren’t experts in search engine optimisation, don’t keep up with what impacts ‘local search’ (there’s many elements), and they probably won’t tell you if email marketing is a more efficient use of your time than Facebook. I’d also bet they won’t advise you that you really need to list your website on a number of third party sites to have a real crack at getting on the first page of Google.

So what’s the cost of this to your business?

I’ll give two examples where two similar businesses couldn’t be found online, in a small but competitive town. Both had their websites developed cheaply, and they both “looked nice” to the owners. One site had images which used ‘Flash’ technology so instantly meant that all iPhone and iPad users couldn’t see the lovely images, and it couldn’t be found even when using the business name in the search terms. The second had a site that couldn’t be found unless you put in the company name into search, and it wasn’t at all optimised for search engines.

If someone is already putting your name into search, there’s a good chance they’ve already made the decision to come to you, and they’re probably just looking up a phone number, they’re unlikely to be the new customers that are looking for general keywords related to your business.

Both of these businesses saved money initially by doing things on the cheap (which is understandable if cashflow iss tight) but the overall impact on this is lack of growth, and for one of them, potentially several years of lost opportunity of new business in a trade that almost everyone is forced to use regularly.

Why You Don’t Need a Website

The reason you don’t need a website anymore is that you need a web presence… an online presence that touches everything digital. This is a really important concept to grasp otherwise you’ll potentially fall into the trap of many businesses and spend all your budget on a website, then wonder 6 months down the line why it’s not working for you. By then you’ve blown your budget for any search optimisation, social media, online advertising, email marketing, you won’t be listed in any of the key sites that matter to control your online reputation (and SEO), and you’ll loose out on many leads that could have came your way in that time. They are unique skills, just like Sales & Marketing should be.

Different Skillsets

When you start on your journey evaluating your online presence, always start with what your goals are and if your web company doesn’t ask you that at first, do yourself a favor and walk away. For your website you need to consider what it’s aims are, and what conversions and call to actions you want (e.g sign up for download, call you, or get a quote). Your online budget should be divided across different channels appropriately so you can deal with your website, ensure it’s optimised and build up any other channels such as email or online advertising.

Despite still being cheaper than print, some online platforms are moving more towards the ‘pay to play’ model, and you need to consider that each platform (apart from your website and email list) is like building a house on rented land. Google or Facebook won’t ask you before they change their interface, or drop your reach for organic posts. As I type this my email service provider is also down due to a major ‘denial of service’ attack, so always think of contingencies too.

Web development is different to many of the online marketing skills required for your overall online web presence so don’t just assume that your ‘website guy’ knows how to utilise YouTube or Facebook properly.  Your web developer  may not even know search engine optimisation which has many quirky combinations of contributing factors.

Without this realisation, there’s a good chance your online presence isn’t going to work as well as you hoped with that ‘new website’.  Did you really expect the overworked Sales & Marketing person to be a guru in 8 different online platforms whilst running around speaking to press, running famils, organising print campaigns, digital media, managing their budgets as well as doing the Sales job too?

One thing is consistent with the online work – it always changes. You need to be willing to adapt to this to get the most out of it for your business. It’s confusing for some, but when did tax or employment laws and other vital things you need to know about for your business stay static?

The good thing is there are some fundamental steps that most businesses miss out that you do once, set up a process and reap the rewards for years to come, and it start with ensuring that you don’t just upload that video to YouTube, and tick the ‘done’ box…what about that description and title?  Some of these steps only take a few more minutes, otherwise that little video you spent so much money isn’t doing very much good for you on the world’s second largest search engine in the world (YouTube).

Unless they’re bloody good, don’t necessarily trust your web developer with your whole online presence. After all, you’d never ask your accountant for employment advice would you?

Look out for articles over the next few days which will continue this series.

Coming soon : “Questions Your Web Developer Should Ask You”, and “Questions You Really Should Ask Your Web Developer”.

Any thoughts?  Leave a comment below.

If you’d like me to review your online presence, please get in touch today using the contact form.

Darren Craig

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