Do I need a website to get online?

Here's a hint: Yes

“Do I really need a website?” With so many places to publish your business info and pictures and to sell your products online — from Amazon® to Zazzle® — you might be asking that very question.

Local review sites like Yelp® and Angie’s List®, social media giants like Facebook® and Twitter®, and e-commerce sites such as Etsy® and Amazon have changed the way we do business. With nearly one billion users combined, these sites are places where so many people – locally, nationally and internationally – can find you. And with tools that make it simple to manage your business’s info on a lot of these sites, it’s easy to put a standalone website on the back burner.

So, do you need a website? The short answer is yes, but let’s take a look at why:

Your website is your center of gravity in cyberspace.

Being on social mediamarketplace and local review sites will bring in business because these platforms are used and trusted by a lot of people. Sure, your Facebook page can showcase your offerings and your unique personality, and your Etsy store might help you sell your products, but those sites aren’t yours. They are shared by millions of businesses – including your competitors!

A smarter strategy is to use your social and other platforms as satellites that “ping” back to your  dedicated website for a more robust user experience. Include links in posts and images, and even just your website address, to guide visitors to your professional-looking small business website — a gravity point with at least five core pages filled with all the important stuff about your business.

Your website makes you seem more legit.

Not having a dedicated website is like running a signless brick-and-mortar store in a gigantic mall alongside millions of other businesses. A website is like your sign – it gives you credibility and legitimacy. Potential customers expect it to be there. ‘nough said.

Your business should stand out, not fade into the pack.

Truth is, a business without a website is a business without a face. If you want to establish yourself as a credible business, it’s a good idea to have a site that people will remember. Inspire people searching for whatever you’ve got to offer to go directly to you online, and avoid sifting through thousands of businesses that might offer products and services like yours.

A website will give your business an online identity, keep customers informed, brand your business, and tell customers what makes you special – why they should pull out their wallet for you! You can’t miss out on the chance to win over even more customers, can you? With a website (and a presence on the most-used sites listed above) you will be available to your entire online audience.

With so many ways to get on the Web, it’s become downright easy and affordable to create a website for your business. You can make your own site (no technical skills required) or hire a website designer that will do everything for you. Just think, with a website you can create a beautiful online catalog of your products, a page dedicated to your kick-ass customer testimonials, links to all of your social and local review pages, a contact page where people can get in touch with your 24/7, and a blog that establishes you as an industry expert.

I guess the question should be, “Can you afford not to have a website?”

Genevieve Tuenge
Genevieve Tuenge is a writer, former small business owner and creative director. She's an avid supporter of local mom-and-pop shops, and has devoted much of her career to helping small businesses understand and access the tools and information they need to thrive online.