It’s not about having a .com that makes having a website so important for your business. This is definitely a nice feature that increases feelings of trust and reliability with your audience but it’s not the reason you should focus on. It’s all about having a platform that you control and on your own terms that will allow you to stay relevant in the forever changing environment of digital associations.
Having your own website lets you decide how it looks, how your audience interacts with it and you set your own rules & content guidelines whilst also having complete control over the direct relationships with your audience. Your website is there to inform, to create engagement, build relationships and to showcase content or provide content through newsletter, email lists, blogs and more.
Content is King
Having your own website means that the content you produce can be showcased within it. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, showcasing content is the leading way of showing your audience and potential clients what your all about, as well as showing the quality of the work that you produce. This is called social proof. If you are not already thinking about or producing content then you absolutely must plan and start to. I guarantee that your industry is somehow saturated with competition so you really do have to make yourself stand out by providing content that builds loyalty and trust. For example, a graphic designer could be showing off their logo design skills, an architect proudly displaying a kitchen that was recently renovated by their business or a blogger using their expertise to report and discuss their industry. Having a platform to showcase this type of evidence is vital to long-term business success.
A website allows you to build domain authority. Forget posting your hard work on third party websites and social media platforms, let your audience come to you. As mentioned before “Content is King” and because of this you should be taking the credit for it. By using your website to showcase produced content you give yourself the ability to undertake SEM (Search Engine Management) tasks more effectively and this will overtime build authority with search engines such as Google, and as an effect you are likely to increase your audience and sales etc.
Google once said, “If you don’t have a website, you’re chance of ending up in customer online search is significantly reduced.”
So what does this mean? This means that if you want to increase your customer base then you have to start showing up in organic search results. This takes time and is not something that you can simply appear on overnight. This is why you should be doing it right now rather than later. You start by planning what keywords and phrases that best support what your business is all about. Choose words that people would use to associate with you or terms they would use to find you in a search engine. For example, because we are located in Manchester we would expect people searching for us to use variations of ‘Graphic Designer Manchester’, Graphic Design Agency Manchester’, etc.
Let’s not forget about the system google has in place for ranking websites based on their search accuracy and domain authority known as Page Rank. Some people say, ‘sharing is caring’ and this is certainly true when it comes to your website. If you are hitting all the right buttons which then lead to people sharing your content on various parts of the internet then Google and other search engines will recognise this. Having various and well-respected sources sharing your content will be like putting your website on steroids and then some. This could really make the difference between failure and massive success.
A professional Email Address
This is a big one for me. I can’t express how ridiculous it is to have someone email you a great pitch for their product or service only to look at the source of the email and to find out its coming from a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account. I’m not likely to be purchasing anything from solicited emails anyway but when reading this type of email only to discover that they don’t even have a professional email or website I feel a little conned out of my time. It is very hard to take anyone seriously when they have not even invested into their own business. If I can’t take you seriously then I certainly won’t be giving you any money.
The Age of Information
Myself and many others like to call this era The Age of Information. This is because we are living in a technological time where answers to questions can be sourced incredibly fast and efficiently. A simple search can give you recipes, business reviews, how to videos, medical symptoms diagnostic (be careful with this one) and believe it or not a full education that doesn’t cost you a penny.
This is the same for your business. Whenever someone is searching for information about your business they will do this through search engines and your website. They could be looking for your policies, warranties, services, reviews and much more. You should know what information your customers will potentially look for and make it readily available for them. There is no better way to do this than to have a website to provide it all.
Concluding on, ‘Why You Should Never Rely on Social Media as Your Business Hub’.
Many people actually do kick start their businesses using social media profiles and groups on platforms such as that of Facebook. This is a good short-term plan as it can save time and money due to there being an existing user-base and traffic that can sometimes be tapped into fairly easily, but unfortunately relying on such methods in the long-term can be detrimental to your business.
Why you ask? You do not own the platform and you don’t get to control how it looks, how people feel about it or how it’s interacted with. What happens if that platforms suddenly disappears from the limelight? Changing algorithms and the way audiences engage might seem like a good idea to the platform at the time but this can ultimately be the downfall to them and to you. I'm currently monitoring traffic on the Pinterest website after they deiced to remove the 'Like Button' . I truly believe this was a mistake and could affect them negatively. Look at other social media platforms like Bebo, Vine, Digg, Yahoo Buzz and Myspace as an example. Some where once great but then became sinking ships. If your business once relied solely on one of these platforms then your business and accumulated audience would also be sinking ships or more likely ships that sank a long time ago. Essentially you are giving control of your audience and business prospects to social media which might not play well in the long run.
If this is something you have already done or plan to do then also plan to move away from it. Build an audience and then do everything possible to take your audience away from social media and to your own website without damaging them or your reputation. By this I mean that you should be giving your established audience a reason to go to your website and not just spamming your link all the time.
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