X3 Marketing Group: Do I need a business website in 2021?

Do I Need A Business Website in 2021?

We’re going to get into the “Why?” of this question below but first, let’s get the main answer out of the way:

Yes, your small business definitely needs a website. And it needs it yesterday. 84% of today’s consumers think a website makes your business more credible than companies who only have social media profiles (themeisle.com). On top of that, 72% of consumers that perform a local search visit a store within 5 miles of their current location.

Does my small business need a website?

Does my small business need a website?

What's the best website builder for small business?

What’s the best website builder for small business?

How about Google My Business websites?

How about Google My Business websites?

What about those "Free" website builders?

What about those “Free” website builders?

Does my small business need a website?

As we said unequivocally above, yes. 100%. Why though? Frankly, it’s all about legitimacy and appearing above your competitors in Google Search. By the end of 2019, 97% of consumers looking for a local business did so by using a search engine and 91% of the time, that search engine is Google.

X3 Marketing Group Mobile and Digital Marketing

When we search for a local business – let’s take a mechanic in Northglenn, Colorado where our office is, for example – we’re looking for a business that is close by so we don’t spend a huge amount of our day driving to and from and we also want a mechanic who comes recommended by our neighbors and people we know.

If we search for this mechanic and there is simply a Google My Business listing which hasn’t been “claimed” by the business owner and whose information is incorrect and whose phone number is incorrect. Out of the gate, that business is losing credibility and frustrating a potential customer. In this scenario, let’s say that the customer keeps looking for a way to get in touch with the mechanic and they go digging for a website. If no website exists, the auto shop has almost certainly lost that potential customer.

When we, as an agency that provides local SEO services, work with a client the very first thing we look at is whether that small business has a website where we can drive traffic using one of our strategic SEO packages or digital advertising services. If you don’t have a website to accompany your marketing efforts, it will affect all of your online marketing plans and no amount of customer service can help if no customers can find your otherwise successful business online.

As a final point, a full 80% of online search engine usage takes place on a mobile device. If you don’t have a site at all, you’re not going to show up on mobile either.

What’s the best website builder for small business?

We’ve certainly covered this in other X3 Marketing Group articles but since HOW your website is built is almost as important as having a website at all, we’ll touch on it again. Here are some of the most popular ways to build a small business website ranging from “Free” to quite expensive, custom website builds:

Weebly: This is a reasonable way to just get an online presence but it’s extremely limited in its ability to generate leads for heating and air conditioning repair and service (or any other leads for that matter). Not good for SEO.
Wix: Similar to Weebly in that it’s a decent stop-gap while your “big kid” website is under construction with X3 (#shamelessplug). Generally speaking, there’s quite a bit of “you-get-what-you-pay-for” when it comes to online marketing and there are challenges with Wix which would make it less than ideal for reaching and engaging a loyal customer base through SEO.
Squarespace: While it’s still missing some of the SEO tools of other platforms, Squarespace is known for visually appealing websites that incorporate beautiful images on a bit of a budget. Easy to work with, it requires almost none of the technical skills that may give you pause.
WordPress: Open source and very customizable, WordPress is primarily what we build on (ahem) and makes for a solid solution. There is a world of plugins by third-party developers to make WordPress very customizable to your needs. Can be a bit sluggish from time to time if not properly optimized.
Custom: There are a couple of very important things to consider when looking at a fully custom coded website; 1. the cost will likely be significantly more than other platforms and 2. the development time will certainly be longer (typically about double) than most estimates given at the outset of a project. On the other hand, a fully-custom Python build, for example, can be fast, powerful and do pretty much everything a company of any size could need (and pay for).
In order for an agency like X3 Marketing Group to bring a small business the best local SEO services as well as giving the most bang-for-your-buck with pay-per-click and other other digital marketing and advertising methods, your website needs needs to be at the forefront of marketing efforts to effectively capitalize on a wide range of the available marketing tools.
X3 Marketing Group: Squarespace
X3 Marketing Group: Weebly

X3 Marketing Group: Wix

X3 Marketing Group: WordPress

What about Google Sites?

Speaking frankly, we wouldn’t consider Google Sites (Google My Business free websites) a true “website builder”. It can be a temporary placeholder while your website is under construction but its functionality is very limited and while it may answer basic questions your perspective customers may have, customer behavior tells use that a well-organized and visually appealing website is what causes a prospective customer to reach out. Google sites simply don’t have enough functionality.

X3 Marketing Group: Google Sites

Additionally, Google sites don’t offer the ability to have a custom domain – this means you don’t truly have your own .COM. Google’s sites instead have a long URL string beginning with “sites.google.com/yournamehere”. This means that any traffic you get isn’t owned by your business and things like social media channels will reflect this. At the outset of this article, we talked about the credibility factor of having a website and not having your own URL is a big no-no in the world of online marketing.

What about a free website builder?

We touched on this above when talking about some of the types of website builders available but we’ll expand a bit more here. Free website builders are certainly a tempting option – especially for those small businesses who are starting out and simply need a web presence. These free options often act as the hosting provider, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website editor and, to some degree, design company.
Most free website builders will give you some templates from which to select your website layout and even access to royalty-free, high-quality images to use. You can include functionality like a contact form. With some free website builders you can have your own custom domain with whatever domain extension you’d like (.com, .net, .tv, .co, etc.) but others will restrict your URL to being a subdirectory or subdomain of their site (like the sites.google.com/yournamehere mentioned above).

Another drawback of these free website builders is that they often require their own branding to remain on YOUR site. This is akin to handing someone your business card and it having “Kinko’s!” printed across the top.

As a marketing tool, your website helps establish and, over time, build credibility. It give people who have found you through and online review a place to click to to find out more about your business success. If it appears unprofessional and/or isn’t engaging, potential customers will leave and look elsewhere.

When it comes to websites, there are widely varying degrees of “you-get-what-you-pay-for” for sure but few (if any) digital marketing professionals would agree that a “free” website is much more than a placeholder while you grown-up site is being built.

X3: Local SEO & Word of Mouth. Which way to go.

Local SEO & Word of Mouth. Which way to go.

One of the objections we hear the most from potential clients is that their primary means of finding new clients is through word of mouth. Upon hearing this, it used to be that we’d push back saying that local SEO is a much more effective way of being found by clients who don’t already know your business. Over time however, our views have evolved quite a bit.

Below I’m going to talk about just how important digital marketing is and just how strong the tie between that and word of mouth marketing is.

 

Tactics such as setting up a cool social media ad or experimenting with AI in ecommerce may sound more exciting (and like quicker wins). (originalwordofmouth.com)

First let’s look at how a customer’s research is a factor in word of mouth marketing; according to BrightLocal customers say that positive reviews of a product or company make them more likely to use that business a whopping 91% of the time in the B2B space. What happens after that though? Things like Google, Google My Business, a Google Map and a ton of other aggregators and review sites take over. That’s because things like Google My Business are simply word of mouth in the digital space and a campaign there can have a more targeted and direct reach on platforms like Google.

Typical behavior suggests that those potential customers then learn more about a product – and this is where local SEO efforts plays a massive role. For instance, when it comes to roofing in our area, a Denver SEO expert will tell you that there are about 5,000 roofers licensed to work in Colorado. With all that interference out there, if your local SEO isn’t working for you and you don’t get found in organic Google search or Google My Business, review effectiveness will fall off significantly. Second, how do we get those reviews for a local business?

Finding a good local SEO agency will tell you that getting found for the things that people search Google for – not just your company name – is vital. With the best local SEO campaign firing on all cylinders, Denver SEO for local businesses like roofers will have them showing up in top positions in search engines for things like, “roofers Denver CO” which gets 500 searches per month on average.

Once a business brings aboard a client they then have the opportunity to help them build their reviews. This includes Google Maps and Google My Business optimization which are key places that online reviews are shown. This also includes Facebook reviews in addition to other social media outlets.

We all know Google, and how it has its fingers in every part of the online pie, but what is Google My Business? (yoast.com)

Google My Business, Apple Maps and Bing Places – among other interactive map platforms –  have quickly become some of the most powerful places where a person finds business listings – including your competitor down the street. These platforms harness the knowledge of information in a business profile and couple it with reviews from customers near a particular zip code so the learn and become more informed. They also provide a business owner with a way to respond to client compliments or negative reviews which keeps their online presence transparent and their customer service tactics open.

Another advantage of these platforms is providing a local citation and a bit of local link building. For each business listing there is an opportunity to improve a local ranking factor in search engines with local links back to your businesses website which improves organic search and is one of the SEO tools and tactics which can bring new customers to your online or physical location through Google.

X3: Local SEO & Word of Mouth. Which way to go.

With a massive decrease in the amount of face-to-face interactions due to Covid-19 over the past several months, online reviews and requests for recommendations has become even more important for local businesses. The same holds true for local SEO – the more online research people do for a business, the more information they’re able to find. Google My Business is often the first stop in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Statcounter reported in 2020 that Google’s search engine market share worldwide is a whopping 92.18% (SOURCE)

A business should be hiring a local SEO company to help navigate those waters so that they can focus on actually running their business. At X3, we are a local business too and when we see someone like a plumber or roofer being dominated by a competitor, we know that the person running that business is a person we can help. It is our job to make sure that search engines like Google show your website and Google My Business shows your business listing first and moves your competitor or product to the second spot. We make sure that a searcher finds you using local keywords which contain things like your city or zip code.

Ever wonder where this whole Google Local thing came from and how it’s changed over time? Then come on in! (moz.com)

The final thing we’ll point to is cost. Let’s face it, on its face word of mouth marketing costs – zero. But does it? In terms of time and effort to share local business values, know how and service with a new client, there is a ton of work that goes into a business growth strategy to find a potential customer. Every minute spent on marketing takes away from a business’s ability to be involved in actually running that business. The cost in sweat equity can quickly go through the roof. This includes trying to do the complex task of managing their own SEO and social media. In fact, even as we go through this article, things like mobile search grow more and more important and a local keyword becomes more impactful since your phone knows your location. Your local ranking is the first thing you want someone nearby to see since many more people shop close-to-home (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) than anywhere else.

X3: Local SEO & Word of Mouth. Which way to go.

However, when local businesses are looking for affordable local SEO services we love showing an actual example of how the ROI on SEO works. Here’s a quick example:

There are an average of 50,000 Google searches focus on roofing, roof repair, roof replacement, product, etc. in Colorado each month. So let’s say that 5% of those local searches find a particular roofing company, 5% of that 5% become leads and 50% (typical rate of conversions for Denver roofing companies) of that 5% become customers.

50,000 (searches) X 5% = 2,500

2,500 X 5% = 125

125 X 5% = 6.25

6.25 X 50% = ~3.125 new clients per month

 

With the average Denver roof replacement price being about $15,000 that means an estimated ~$550,000 in a year.

When broken down like that, hiring an expert local SEO company with their tools to drive traffic, reviews and more word of mouth is certainly affordable. Your marketing efforts should be focused on the overall value of improving your local search ranking since the return can be so high.

The Bottom Line

Word of mouth marketing is a vital part of establishing trust with both existing and potential clients. However, the effectiveness of much of that trust is the ability for people to then find a business through utilization of the best local SEO services available. Reviews and local search engine marketing work hand in hand to drive revenue and success with any business.

Click here for our article on

5 Ways to improve your local SEO