It’s safe to say the Internet has revolutionized how businesses and their customers interact. Websites are no longer an expensive, dicey proposition; they’re a necessary part of every thriving business. If your business doesn’t have one yet, you should make setting up a website a high priority.

Get new customers

When people want to find something, almost unilaterally, they search for it on Google®. In contemporary parlance, it’s not enough to say that Google is just a “search engine” — they’ve become more like the gatekeepers of the world’s information. One part encyclopedia, one part mapping service, one part directory, and 10 parts everything else.

With so much sway over people finding stuff, it’s a good (read: necessary) idea to make sure your business is included in Google’s search results. Without a website for your business, unfortunately, you have very little control over that happening.

Branding

You can rely on review sites like Yelp® to get customers to you, but that risks a lot: bad reviews, incorrect contact information, and no way to easily get more information about you. It doesn’t communicate your brand’s vision or energy, either. There’s also the likelihood that your competitors have websites, giving them more real estate in Google and more traction with customers. Before you’ve even started, you’ve already ceded a lot of ground.

Get your own website, though, and you have a lot more control. Not only does it give you a home online, it gives you a platform to tell potential clients about your business: what you do, why you do it, and who you are. Instead of relying on someone else to tell people about your business, you get to frame the narrative and build a successful website yourself. In terms of creating and communicating your brand, this is of paramount importance.

Credibility

Websites also make businesses feel more legitimate and trustworthy. If you’ve gone through the process and know the keys to a successful website – photos, thoughtfully-written text, testimonials from satisfied customers, and contact information – you’re clearly not a fly-by-night operation. Visitors can check you out and get a sense of what kind of business you run and, hopefully, become your customers.

Keep existing customers

Don’t forget about your existing, hard-earned customers, either. Having a website also gives them a base to reach you 24 out of 24 hours in the day. You never know when someone’s going to be in dire need of your services, and without a website, you lose potential business from people who already know (and support) you.

Imagine this: you’re a local jeweler, specializing in reclaimed precious metals. You have two wonderful clients, Michael and Liz, who purchased their wedding bands from you a few months ago. As much as Michael loves his beautiful new wife, he’s a little absent-minded and forgot her birthday is in two weeks — but he remembered at 10 p.m. Friday night. Without a website, he’s going to have to wait for you to come in Monday morning to place an order, and to assuage his anxiety, he might just take his business elsewhere. With a website, though, Michael could simply log on and buy the rose gold band Liz has been eyeing for months from your shop. Crisis averted for Michael; loyalty earned for you.

The downsides of building a successful website

If you consider it a downside to have a low-hassle way of attracting new customers and keeping in touch with old ones, then having a website is bad news. For everyone else, though, having a website isn’t just a great tool for your business — it’s almost a necessity.

For more information about the elements of a successful website, see also Features Every Website Needs and Understanding Your Website.