Your website is the biggest and most visible part of your presence on the internet. Internet usage is widespread and for many it is critical in making decisions about where to shop, dine, and have fun. These days, if you don’t have a website, people cannot find your small business and what it has to offer. There are review sites, directories, and other sources of information out there, but you’re not as visible or in control of what gets said about you without a website.
Would you open a store without putting a sign out on the street? Of course not. Many people these days go straight to their favorite search engine to find out about that new restaurant, or to see what stores exist in their new neighborhood, or to find someone to paint their house. Not having a website is the virtual equivalent of having a boarded up storefront. If people can’t find you, they’re going to find someone else. Google makes $28 billion per year on people who are just looking for things (like your business). There are lots of people out their searching for your services. Put up your sign and people start finding you. That’s not the end of course; existing is just the first step. There are many steps to growing your web footprint and driving more business with the internet.
A website should really be more than your name and a page with your store hours. There are a lot of websites that serve as glorified pamphlets. Your website is often the first point of contact a potential customer has with your business. Whether you paid for their visit with online ads or they found you in organic search, a person has arrived at your site and they are ready for your sales pitch. They are giving you a chance to convert them to a real, paying customer.
Unless they decide your site is not relevant to them, people frequently spend 30 seconds or more on a site. They usually have some goal in mind. They’re looking for pricing, hours, a list of services, testimonials, etc. You should make it easy for people to find the important facts about your business that will make people want to do business with you. You should also give them plenty of opportunities to become a lead by having some lead capture mechanisms in place (like a clickable offer that brings them to a place where they can send you their information).
Having a website in place gives you some control over your image online. If your website isn’t in the top search results for your business name, people will find review sites, question and answer sites, competitor sites, or perhaps worst of all, nothing. Of course you want people to find the 3rd party reviews, but you also want an opportunity to put yourself directly in front of that customer and show them what you have to offer. To get there, put interesting and relevant content on your site and you can become a trusted source of information, showing up higher in search engine results.
Once you have a website up, there is plenty you can do to turn it into a lead generation machine for your business. You should always be testing, looking for opportunities to optimize how your website converts visitors to leads. Think of your website as a sales person that never takes a day off. Any time spent improving your website or generating content can be counted as time spent with every visitor or lead who comes to your site.
Today’s business landscape virtually requires that every business have a website. There are plenty of web designers out there and even packages for beginners that will let you put up a basic website in only a few hours. Take a spin through the search results for website designers and website building services and you will undoubtedly find a wealth of information to help you create a place for your business on the internet.
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