As a Local Business, You Need a Website
If you are a local business seeking clients you need a website. You may not think it important or necessary, but without one, you could well be losing a lot of business.
For example, I am amazed at the number of times I see requests on Facebook Groups for local business recommendations. These might be for professionals, Dentists, Opticians, Vets, Accountants. Or local trades, Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters, or similar. Additionally, there are questions such as “does anyone know a good refrigerator repairer” or “someone who can repair my TV”. Even shops are mentioned, where the question “where is the best place to buy xxx” is asked.
Do you know that 80% of people looking for a service or product begin their search on the internet? It’s just so easy. Simply open your smartphone and ask Google “where can I find a xxxxxx in (insert a town)”?. However, it seems that failing to find a local answer, many people have to resort to asking for help on Facebook.
So why do so few local businesses have a website? It seems that some of the reasons are:-
- I don’t understand the technology or how to get a website.
- I think it is going to be too expensive.
- I don’t think my business would compete against all the major companies on the web.
- I wouldn’t have time to deal with it.
- I am too busy trying to find clients for my business to think about a website.
On the face of it all valid reasons but let’s take a look at each of these reasons and see if they really stand up to scrutiny.
I don’t understand the technology or how to get a website.
I don’t know how to repair my car if it goes wrong. I take it to a mechanic for him to repair. The same philosophy applies to websites. As an entrepreneur, you know your business, your expertise, and what clients you are looking for. To have a presence on the web all you need to do is employ a good website designer.
Your designer will do everything, including obtaining your web address (URL) and set up the hosting for your site. Together with you, he will design a site appropriate to your business. He will make sure it is Search Engine Friendly, and that search engines will know it exists and index it as soon as possible after it goes live on the internet.
It is too expensive.
There are, of course, costs involved. You need to purchase the Domain Name and pay an annual hosting fee. Today these costs are not onerous. A Domain name should cost no more than $10 to $12 and in some cases will be free with a hosting package. Hosting will depend on a range of circumstances but can be as little as $3 to $5 dollars per month for a small, simple website, at least for the first year.
Many people think website designing is very expensive, but this need not be the case either. WordPress, a very popular core CMS, is free and has an extensive range of Free Themes that can be used to design the look of the website. I have designed more than one website for clients using these options for as little as $250.
I don’t think my business would compete against all the major companies on the web.
This is a common observation but not a valid one. Search Engines, and Google, in particular, are very helpful and have various systems and algorithms in place to ensure local businesses feature highly in local search results.
Google knows where a searcher is or lives. So someone in Puerto Plata looking for a dentist is unlikely to want one in Santo Domingo. Equally, someone in Cabarete is unlikely to want an electrician in Santiago. Google will automatically display results close to where the searcher is based when the search is for a service or product which can be found nearby. Google also has a separate Local Business Directory which you can link to your website to provide greater visibility.
Combining your website and Google Local Business is not difficult but needs consistency so that address, telephone numbers, photos, and description are identical. This ensures that a search for your type of business or service will show the same results for your website and local business entry.
Assuming your business has a physical address you can appear on Google maps, and have a map integrated into your website. This makes it easy for potential clients to find you and get directions from where they are to where you are.
I wouldn’t have time to deal with it.
In a way, this is an extension of the first objection. If you employ a good local web designer he can manage your website, keeping it up to date and making any changes needed. Although this will involve a small monthly fee it ensures the security of your website. This also means that any alterations to services, prices, items for sale, etc. can be rapidly displayed.
I am too busy trying to find clients for my business to think about a website.
Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. A website will help you find new clients and if managed properly will ensure you retain them into the future. New clients usually want some assurances. A testimonial page on a website from existing clients can offer that security.
You can retain clients by keeping in touch via email, with offers, promotions, or additional services. A request for a recommendation to your customer’s friends can also produce excellent results. For these reasons alone a website can produce far more business from the local community than other forms of promotion or advertising at very little cost.
Facebook has already been mentioned as a source of recommendations for local businesses and you can take advantage of that. A Facebook Business Page is a further source of new business and regular posts on the page can help to keep your business name in circulation. It is, however, limited in depth. Combining a Facebook Page with a website results in the best of both worlds. Visitors to Facebook can be directed to your website to learn more about your business and what you offer. Visitors to your website can be linked to your Facebook Page and can “like” your page and be kept up to date with local information.
Although there are costs involved to set up a website these can be rapidly recovered with new business and once the investment has been made it will not need to be repeated.
Any local business can benefit from having a website and visibility on the web. It really doesn’t matter what your business is. Enabling potential clients or customers to find you easily is the first step to gaining business. Providing a map to help them reach you makes it easy for them. Recommendations from previous customers provide credibility and confidence.
According to the Google Think Study on Local:
• Consumers search with their location in mind. Four out of five consumers use search engines to find local information.
• Fifty percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on a computer/tablet did the same.
• Local searches have higher purchase intent; 18 percent of local searches on smartphones led to a purchase within one day.