When was the last time you used the yellow pages or any kind of phone book? We all have them (many of them) and there are times when it can be convenient — if you know exactly what you are looking for. Hopefully you will even find a few worthwhile listings. But the ease of internet search (particularly Google) means that fewer people are using printed books when searching for products and services. So why would you continue putting your efforts and marketing dollars into advertising there?

The American economy, in times both good and bad, is driven by the success of small business. Yet so many small businesses do not have a good searchable website, or worse they have no website at all! I know that small business owners are among the busiest people, and I have heard some claim they do not have the time or financial wherewithal to develop a good website. This is a BIG mistake! Customers are continually searching the internet looking for products and services. And rightly or wrongly, they often judge whether or not to do business with your company on the basis of your website. Here are some small business website myths revealed:

1) It will cost tens of thousands of dollars to create a website. Not necessarily. There are plenty of excellent websites that can be produced for well under $10,000 and can help drive new customers to your business. However it is true that the more pages there are on your site (for those of you with a great deal of information to share), the greater is the investment.

2) I don’t have the staff to update the website. This is certainly a legitimate concern, since having an out-of-date website with tired content that is never updated is worse than having no website at all. Often web development companies also offer maintenance plans that help you stay on top of your new website and keep the content fresh and updated.

3) My competition does not have a website so why would I need one? The other variation on this is when I hear “My industry isn’t into technology, so we don’t need a website.” It simply isn’t true.

4) I don’t have lots of frequently updated content for my website. Another way for you to avoid the ‘brochure’ website syndrome is to use things like photo galleries showing happy customers and employees, or a short video, like something that shows “behind the scenes” or the quality processes that go into your business. An interactive Q & A is another way to engage visitors.

5) All that SEO stuff is too hard to figure out. SEO or search engine optimization refers to using the words and phrases on your website that your customers will use when searching for the type of products and services you offer. Let’s say you are a dry cleaner and there are several competitors in your area. A new family moves into town, or an existing family is unhappy with their current drycleaner, and while they can ask people for a recommendation, chances are greater that they will search for a drycleaner on their own. What do you think will they type into the search engine? Often the search phrase will include the type of business you are in (dry cleaner) as well as your area, county or town. Create your own list of possible phrases, but an in-depth analysis of what people are actually doing (this is step one of our SEO process here at Build Your Online) will probably surprise you. Having optimized keywords (one per page being best) will bring your site higher on Google. Having a website that is search optimized is fast becoming the single most important thing that can help your business.

So if you are a small business and have a less than great website or no website at all, you are missing a great opportunity to be there when potential new customers are looking for your product or service. And you are also missing an opportunity to tell your story in a fun and engaging manner. Customers are looking for what you have to offer.

Will they find you?

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