Why websites still matter

SMBs are faced with an overwhelming number of choices when it comes to marketing their business in the online world and according to a recent article by Search Engine Land only 56% of SMBs surveyed had a proprietary website. 

From AdWords to social media to mobile advertising, business owners today must choose how to best allocate their time and budgets to ensure that their business can be found online by potential customers. But does the website still play a key role in this complex matrix? Is it still a valuable platform compared to alternative options such as local listing networks and social media? And why is it still worth it for an SMB to invest time and money in their own website?


Why is owning a website so important?

According to the Local Search Association (LSA), 63% of consumers use company websites to find local business information. Consumers go online to find information about a business, and having information dispersed among various platforms, such as Facebook Business, Google My Business and local SMB listings, can make it difficult for consumers to find business information. Not only does it make it difficult, but according to the Why Before The Buy Report by YP, inconsistent or inaccurate website information (37%) and bad contact information (32%) were cited among the top deal killers among consumers. 


And while copious amounts of information can be found on the Internet, it is sometimes forgotten that consumers are often going online to find basic, yet specific information, that can help them make choices about which local business to visit in real life. Local businesses are missing out on the opportunity to ensure that basic information about their business is accurate and easy for consumers to find.


Using data to establish online trust

In other words, websites of local businesses have a fundamental part to play in the digital landscape by functioning as the primary, established data source for information about their business, such as opening hours, address and product information. We believe that data-driven websites will play an influential role in helping SMBs continue to succeed online in the future. 


Proprietary websites are instrumental in establishing trust amongst consumer, as 30% won’t consider a business without a website (LSA & YP). A website doesn’t only make it easier for consumers to find information about local businesses, but according to a report by BrightLocal (2016), it helps establish credibility, as 36% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business with a website. Investing in website ownership is not only about ensuring that consumers find a local business, but also building confidence and trust in their business.


Preparing for the future: voice search and artificial intelligence
Currently, a professional website with good SEO is a key tool in giving SMBs a chance to be found online. The reality is that SMBs are fighting to survive against big box retailers and in order to compete businesses will need to provide continuously rich content, such as detailed product information, photos and videos, and customer reviews.


Looking to the future, a data-rich website may play an even more important role when you look at new technology such as voice search and artificial intelligence. The presence of data, and to be more precise - structured data, on company websites will be an important way to enable artificial intelligence to provide accurate information and fulfill customer voice search queries.

So while some may take the role of a professional business website for granted, the importance and relevance of having a proprietary website has never been more important for SMBs. It is the company website that allows them to truly own and ensure the information about their business is trustworthy and accurate. It’s also what will set them up to succeed in the future with the growing use of AI and voice search. Websites may not always look the same as they do today, but the data they provide, when structured and accurate, will remain the key to digital success for years to come.

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