Yeah, we said it, “…all small businesses need a website.” To get straight to the point, this certainty has nothing to do with selling and everything to do with ensuring the longevity of your company.
As an IT partner for small businesses (that in fact, doesn’t service or support websites), we are constantly watching the trends, risks, and benefits of working in a virtual world alongside the real one. When the pandemic hit the real world, it shifted everyone’s social and consumer activities to virtual reality. Suddenly everything from playing games to restocking eggs was done through a computer.
It’s impossible to say this any more objectively: In 2022 and beyond, it’s absolutely vital for a small business to own and operate their own website apart from any social media.
Now, this is not to say that small businesses need fancy websites that allow logins and secure checkouts. It’s to illustrate the widespread shift in how every one of us think about how we live our lives. When once it was a luxury to find the small business that you love online (let alone interact with them), now it’s an expectation. And companies that aren’t meeting that expectation are getting left behind.
Why Can’t We Just Use Our Free Facebook Page?
The simple answer is that you can but you’re limiting your company to one of the lowest echelons of the virtual business world. Yes, it’s free and, yes, it takes some of the guesswork out of having an online presence since they come with a basic profile layout and guide you to provide the right content. But as your potential customers are becoming more online savvy, the drawbacks of limiting yourself are starting to intensify.
A Page Can be Created by Anyone, in an Instant, for Free
Granted this is exactly what makes it so appealing to small businesses, but the very same reasons that make it easy for you to do it also makes it easy for fake or misleading businesses to do the same. As mentioned above, consumers are starting to get wise to the risks of the virtual world which means that they’re more likely to corroborate that your business actually exists and that you do what you say you do. This is where your website comes into play. Since it costs money for a website, it’s has a different level of verification from the start since a petty online crook probably won’t shell out the money for domain registration and hosting.
You Don’t Own Your Facebook Page
Sure Facebook (and other social media profiles) let you customize some branding elements and content, but you’re still playing by their rules. Apart from having less creative control to stand out from your competitors, you’re also at the mercy of their operations. For instance, the great Facebook outage in late 2021 left millions of companies without access to customers. Leaving your online presence dependent on a company that you have no control over their security, risks, or response times puts yours at greater risk.
You’re One of Many Distractions
Remember that mention above about social media profiles providing “basic profile layouts and guides to provide the right content”? Well, they do the same thing for every other company out there which means that Facebook Business Pages are highly competitive. It’s hard (some would say impossible) to stand out or rise to the top of a list when every competitor has the same type, style, format, functions, and content. And Facebook is always recommending pages to help increase the platform’s stickiness in your life. This means that it’s not necessarily providing a company as a best match, it’s throwing everything at the user, so they increase their use by having more to access. This is why having a website that you own and control helps. It’s your own unique world where you can stand out as much as you like in any way you want.
Your Opportunity to Be Found Online Plummets
When you want to find the right shoes for an upcoming vacation, where do you start? Google or Facebook? Your answer is probably giving away what’s next. Facebook has very limited SEO since it all resides within that platform. Google’s algorithms do pick up Facebook content (as you’ll see in search results), but Facebook Pages aren’t optimized for the kind of SEO that links up to how your potential customers are searching for you. Your website on the other hand, can contain a myriad of more places to put keyword phrases and content that boost your search results—right on the browser that gets over 3.5 billion searches a day.
Arguments Against Building and Maintaining a Website
Most small business point to two things when they argue about building a website: time and money.
There Isn’t Enough Time While I’m Trying to Keep My Business Running
This point is becoming less and less valid. At the most basic level, you can take the content that you’ve already built on your Facebook page and repurpose it on your website. A simple, basic website really only needs to provide three things (which can be seen as simply 3 pages including your home page):
- Who you are
- What you do
- How to contact you
It’s very likely you already have that information on your Facebook page. Grab a few stock images from online and throw them into headers or banners on each page to give it some pop. And make sure you have a way to contact you on each page even if it’s just at the bottom of your text. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just something that validates who you are and what you do.
We Don’t Have Enough Money to Operate a Website
Money is always a valid reason, but this is also becoming a moot point. The positive side of the flood of new websites starting up online is that the cost of standing one up is decreasing as domain, hosting, and development providers are increasingly competing. In fact, you don’t even need a developer to have your own site (though it speeds up the process to making it pretty and fun to use). You might be surprised that it’s possible to stand up a website yourself using very easy-to-use templates for as little as $25 using services like Bluehost. And then maintaining it can be as low as $75/year after that (even cheaper if you pay for multiple years in advance).
Having a Business Website Should Be Fact of Being in Business
These trends are only increasing, so folding owning and operating a website into your typical operations overhead is something that needs to happen now. Even companies that traditionally didn’t need an online presence—like construction and manufacturing—now need one to simply verify who they are. From there, the possibilities keep opening up with just a little creative time and focus.
There are many options when building a website, what we’ve illustrated above is simply one of the quickest and cheapest way to go about it. And no, HDCav doesn’t get any kickbacks or benefits from promoting any website service provider. In fact, we don’t service or support websites at all, so there’s no advantage for us other than to help small business grow. We know a lot of great companies in the business of websites, so if you want any recommendations, just get in touch. We’re happy to help.