It’s 2022 and you want to make sure your online business (or even your brick and mortar) is able to reach as many potential customers as possible. But how do you best do that? Social media? YouTube? Ads? A website with a blog?
The answer to all of these questions can be “yes” depending on your goals, what you already have in place and your business goals. The freelance writer just starting might not need a website today to get a client and get paid, but they will at some point. The restaurant looking to attract potential customers would need one sooner rather than later.
What’s the difference? What about the naysayers who proclaim that websites are dead and only funnels matter? I would argue anyone applying blanket statements like that to your business doesn’t really understand your business. One size does not fit all businesses.
The best reason to have a website is to have something in the online world you can control. You can’t control social media and accounts get hacked and shut down all the time. If that happens to your business and you have no way to connect with your customers, you’ve lost out on time and revenue as you try to get back online. Don’t build your business house on rented land.
Here are three other reasons why you should have a website:
1. Your target audience or clients are likely to look for you online.
This should not be a surprise to anyone, but it warrants an explanation. Here’s what I mean: if your target customer base is likely looking for you on Google (“french restaurant near me”) then they should be able to find you. If they can’t, they won’t know you exist. In fact, that is the very search I put into Google in order to find a place for my husband and me to have dinner on our anniversary.
Local search matters and you want to come up in those searches. Facebook and Instagram are not search engines. Being there is nice, but people are looking for you on Google.
2. You want to collect email addresses and develop an email list.
Technically you could use landing page software or create a page with your email service provider to do this, but there should also be a link or form on your actual website to collect email addresses. This is a precious list that allows you to continue the conversation offline and deepen your relationship with your customers or clients.
In fact, pointing your visitors to a lead magnet on your homepage is an excellent way to start. Don’t use a pop up though. They are annoying and most people are visiting your site on their phones and can’t see the X to click away.
3. You have a blog.
Yes, people still blog. It is still a popular way to create content and you can get a lot of good web searches by making sure that your content has good SEO (search engine optimization) and can be found for searches based on your location (if that’s important) as well as your topic. Blogs also help establish expertise in your industry even if you don’t sell anything at the end of your post.
While SEO is the stuff stand-alone courses are made out of, blogs are handy for helping visitors get to know and interact with your brand. This can increase brand awareness, brand loyalty, and may result in an increase in your bottom line.
Do not be mistaken though, these blog posts must be high quality and offer value. The wild west days of the blogging world are over and people demand content that makes their lives better in some way. And if your customers are readers, then they will appreciate your blog’s ability to enhance their lives, help them to make buying decisions, and be a leader in your industry.
Bonus reason: Affiliate marketing – Many of you out there are trying to do affiliate marketing (and SEO) with only a YouTube channel or podcast. While you can get away with that with YouTube, many companies with affiliate programs still require an actual website in order to approve you for their programs.
And it’s not just that, but linking your other content back to your website increases the number of backlinks you have to your original content. And Google likes that. Even if you set up your site on Wix (though I prefer WordPress) at least you’ll have something when it’s time to apply to affiliate programs.
In the end, websites have come a long way from being fancy Internet brochures. And while I would never want you to get caught up in designing your site that you don’t make any money from your business, just know that people will look for your business online. If they can’t find you online, how are they supposed to pay you? Something to think about as you look at how your business is going to be found online.