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Do I really need a business website?

Web Hosting Blog

The way we shop and do business has changed so much over the last couple of decades. It’s not too long ago that we did all of our shopping on the high street, Amazon was a little known book selling website, and if a friend had asked to see your Facebook, you might have bemusedly handed them a huge leather bound family photo album, still perplexed at their strange choice of phrase.

Fast forward to today of course and we’ve all heard of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. From catching up with friends old and new, to watching funny cat videos, following your favourite celebrity, staying up to date in your industry, searching for jobs, watching eagerly for the next move from your favourite brands (and contacting them directly!), and buying second hand furniture, social media is your go to for, well, just about everything these days!

Let’s rewind a little bit to before the popularity of social media exploded. Where did we go to connect with businesses? Well, we were either visiting them in person or through their direct business website. The majority of companies do have websites alongside their social media accounts, no doubt aesthetically lush, dynamic and well maintained for those in the big leagues. But what about small business?

Social media has allowed small business the opportunity for access to their target audience that would have been a distant dream, previously. It’s features allow a small business to connect with local community and global customers alike, to interact with them on a personal level, and to give all the information they need about the company’s values, mission, contact details and latest news. And, what’s more, they can do it for free. So it would be reasonable for small businesses operating in 2019 to think they can do without having a direct website, and can just do business on social media. We’re going to look at the pros and cons of having your own small business website.

To have a small business website, you have to build it in the first place. So either you need a good grasp of website design and content creation yourself, or you’re going to need to pay someone to make it for you. Even if you do go down the DIY route, you still need to pay for web hosting for your website (unless you opt for a free host, but we’ll come back to that in a second…)

Once it’s up, you’ve got to keep the engine running. And you’ll probably have to keep it running with money. You’ll likely have a monthly or annual charge from your web host, and then payments on top of that if you’re paying someone to look after the site content for you.

Of course, you could opt to save yourself a little of that expense and maintain the site yourself. But that’s going to take your time. Which may also include the time you’ll need to spend learning new skills to maintain the site yourself.

If you have a contact page, or you’re signing customers up for a newsletter, basically if your site is capable of holding any customer data at all you’ll need to make sure it’s secure, and that you are up to date with GDPR legislation. Because on your own direct site, you will be the data controller for those individuals’ personal information.

If your site isn’t built well, it could actually do more harm than good. You may think that you’ve got around the problem of expense by opting for a free host, but we know the saying is that nothing comes for free and that’s true in web hosting too. Opt for a free host and you won’t have a sleek, well maintained site personal to you. For starters you’ll have a generic domain name, and if the basic and limited style of the page isn’t enough to put your customers off, then the ads and clickbait articles that are probably littering the page will. Your business deserves more than that.

But, there’s no denying that having your own business website is going to do wonders for your reputation with customers. If your potential customers, or even potential employees, can find a quality online presence for your business, they are more likely to trust you as a legitimate company and come to you for what they need.

Within social media you are restricted by the look and feel of that platform and it’s functionality. But with your own site the control you have and the possibilities for your style and type of content is almost unlimited. You can show off your business in exactly the way you want, and target your site towards the types of customers you want. Amazing right?

Social media content has a short lifespan. Great in many ways, though it can be a drag when you’re constantly trying to come up with fresh content, sometimes several times a day. And despite how long you take over it, or how much effort you put in, or how high quality your content is, if it’s on social media, it’s still disposable. With your own site, you can set up your content, but then build on this and refresh it as your business grows and changes.

Social media algorithms also mean you’re never totally in control of who sees your content and when. Which means you could be completely missing out on reaching a portion of your target market.

Having your own website means you’ll be found really easily if someone googles your business name or your industry keywords. On the maps listings when people are searching for businesses close to them, they’re more likely to trust and therefore choose a business with the website icon in their listing.

So we can see there are a few downsides to maintaining your own site which are mainly cost and time related. And we can see that there are a few benefits to having your own site, mostly to do with your online presence and company image.

In our opinion, a business website is a must. Get the best website that you’re able to afford and shout your domain from the rooftops. There really is no substitute for owning your own land, and social media, as useful as it is, is rented space on someone else’s land. The tools on social media are effective in guiding customers to your website. They are the roads and your website is the destination.

Contact us today to chat to a hosting specialist about the best platform to host your company website on.