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If you’re in business then having an online presence, and particularly a website, is almost certain to have a significant impact on the extent to which you are successful. The quality of your website may also have an impact but for the purpose of this article I’m going to focus on the importance of simply having a website.

Before we get too far, let’s be clear what I mean by “website”. I don’t want to get bogged down in definitions – what I’m referring to in this article is one or more pages of information, over which the business-owner has full control, that are accessed by someone typing your domain name into a web browser.

So, for example, you are currently accessing one page of information on the Martin Durham website which is accessed by typing a domain name (martindurham.co.uk) into a web browser. Note that, as the business-owner, I have full control over this website. I decide what appears on every page. I decide what the website looks like. I decide who can access the information I publish. I decide on what basis I engage with my website visitors.

For the avoidance of doubt, whilst it may (or may not) be a useful addition to your online presence and may cover some of the reasons why your business should have a website, I do not consider a Facebook page to be a website.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at the specific reasons your business needs a website.

1. Credibility

Most potential customers who hear about your business are going to type your business name into Google and check you out, or they might type search terms related to the products or services you supply in the not-unreasonable expectation that they will find your website.

Surveys suggest that many consumers simply wouldn’t trust a business that doesn’t have a website.

2. Competition

If you don’t have a website but your competitors do then potential visitors will find the websites of your competitors and any potential business you may have had will be gone forever.

3. Open all hours

Your website is available to provide information about your business even when you’re not. Your potential customers research you and your products and services at times that suit them, not just when you happen to be available to provide them with information.

If you have an online shop then you can even be making sales while you sleep.

4. Time-saving / customer service

If you don’t have a website the chances are that you’ll be spending time answering the same queries by telephone or email over and over again. Answer those questions on your website and you’ll have more time for other things and your potential customers will benefit from a better user experience.

If you can answer all of the questions that your potential customers ask then you can keep them away from competitors’ website, increasing your chances of achieving sales.

5. Controlling the narrative

Having a website puts you in control of your messaging. If someone searches for your business the chances are that they’ll find references to it from other sites that aren’t necessarily 100% positive. You can use your website to paint a positive picture of your business (by including customer testimonials for example).

A business website helps to get your mission and personality across to potential customers.

Including social linking icons makes it easier for people to share your content when they like what they see.

6. Organic traffic

There are 3.5 billion searches on Google every day. That means people are searching online for businesses like yours, and for the products and services you offer. If you have a website that is properly optimized for search engines then there is a chance that they will find you.

7. Digital marketing

If you plan to advertise your business using (for example) Google or Facebook ads, or use email marketing, then you will want to drive traffic to a website.

8. Keeping potential customers up-to-date

Whether it’s advertising new services, promoting special offers, updating your opening times, or showcasing today’s specials in your restaurant, your website offers a single source of information that your potential customers can learn to rely on.

What next?

If you’ve not already got a website then hopefully I’ve at least convinced you that it’s something you should consider. If that’s the case, you might like to read my article about the things you should consider before building a website,

If I haven’t convinced you that your business needs a website then I’d urge you to read my article giving the reasons I think every business absolutely must have a domain name.