When it comes to getting yourself online these days there are plenty of choices for business websites. In fact you’re as likely to see a TV advert for a “free” small business website as you are for a new car!
Just three years ago it was estimated that only 50% of SME’s had business websites. Recent research suggests this number has now leapt closer to 80%. This large increase shows that many more small businesses now realise just how important the internet and online marketing is. However, embracing it doesn’t tell the story of just how ineffective many of these small business websites are. There’s no point in rushing online and spending your hard earned cash on something that’s not going to be working hard for you. It would be like entering an old Mini in Le Mans – you’ve got the right basic tool but with a little thought, research and investment ahead of time you could have something that is actually going to be competitive and win. So before you move ahead with building your website here are a few things you should consider.
Why does your business need a website?
While this may seem like a pretty simple question, the answer isn’t always obvious. If you’ve already got more customers that you can handle then taking on more employees is likely more of a priority than building a website. For the rest of us though, whether you are showcasing your products, offering training courses or selling online, having a website these days just makes good business sense.
Who are you targeting with your website?
Knowing who you want to attract to your business website will have a bearing on everything from design to the content you write. If you don’t know who your specific target market is then spend a little time thinking about your potential customer profiles. Are they young or old, home owners or students, vegetarians or burger lovers, sporty or arty?
What do you want them to do on your website?
This is the most important question and probably the one that people give the least consideration to. If you don’t know what you want visitors to do once they arrive on your website it’s going to be difficult to convert them into customers. For example, if you want them to pick up the phone and call you it’s generally a good idea to put your phone number top right on your home page – you’ll be amazed at the number of local business websites with no phone number or contact details anywhere obvious.
How are people going to find your website?
It’s not enough to just have a business website, you have to market it so that people actually come and visit. There are plenty of strategies that you can use for this and you need to consider which of them will work best for your particular business. SEO, pay per click and social media are among the most popular marketing methods but there are many other online and offline ways to drive traffic to your website.
What platform is right for your website?
This is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make as it will affect everything else you do. Out of all the small business website options available we recommend using WordPress. It’s content management system is simple to use and lets you make your own changes to content as and when you like. That means that you don’t have to rely on having someone else doing it for you and paying them for every minor update you do.
Do it yourself or pay someone else?
Is it possible to build yourself a professional looking website without spending a fortune? Well, you have a few options and the answer is yes you can, but is that an effective use of your time and resources. You can choose to spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds using a web designer or you can spend hours upon frustrated hours trying to figure out how to do it yourself.
Whether you already have a business website, are planning a site redevelopment or are thinking about starting from scratch, investing some time answering the questions above will be worth it.
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