The end of Websites for Small Business?

There’s been a reasonable amount of talk in the last week about whether small businesses really need a website, in our opinion the answer is definitely – but we were bound to say that! Here’s why….

My business plan :)

What’s going on?

Small businesses have for while been able to advertise in the  established online social communities (Facebook / MySpace etc) where “Business / Fan” pages allow them to publicise their commercial enterprise. Word of mouth is still one of the best forms of advertising, so businesses that have done this are generally doing really well out of it (if you’ve tried it and aren’t doing so well from it – contact us we can refer you to a business that may be able to help you!). The problem with using social networking to advertise is you rely simply on people’s connections to each other to get business not people’s locality.

Google on the other hand are increasing their local search efforts with a new feature in Google Maps, “Place Pages” provide everything you want to know about a place (whether that be a city or a business) on one page!

Let’s take a restaurant as an example, you should get the following:

  • Web pages
  • Directions
  • Reviews
  • Images
  • Street View
  • Business hours

With all this information at your fingertips (within Google) there is an obvious concern that people will never leave Google (some people we’ve now noticed refer to Google and the Internet interchangeably as one and the same thing!). Google has always said it will do everything to enhance the user’s experience,  unfortunately for site owners this may mean that these users never leave Google!

Are there any positives?

Yes, I believe there are – this service will provide a website for thousands of small businesses around the world with next to no outlay, giving them an immediate online presence that the whole world can see (unlike the social networking sites discussed above).

Great, So does my small business still need a website?

That really is up to you! Without your own website you will always only be able to show the information that Google (or any other provider) has decided to show to users. If you want your own content, pictures, reviews etc organised in a way that you see fit – you really do still need your own website!

Also, what are you doing about email? I followed a van only yesterday for a local business with no website on it (all the other information was there about what they do – a website would allow them to show some pictures as well in my mind) and at the bottom was a btinternet.com email address. I have a bad habit of contacting any supplier I deal with to tell them how much more professional a domain name with “enquiries@companyname.com” would look, all for less than £25 per year!

We’ve also taken on a designer now and many of our customers have started to reap the rewards of the work that she does, in fact we’re building up quite a backlog for her – so if you have things you want done – get in touch soon!

Creative Commons License photo credit: lepiaf.geo

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