When you start-up a business you tend to have quite a few initial costs at a time when your income might be quite limited. You want to get your name and your business out there but most small businesses would struggle to finance a marketing/advertising campaign when they first get going. Also if you’ve started up in business and you have only a small amount of capital you don’t want to blow it all at once.
I went to a social networking seminar a while back and they guy said that you actually didn’t need a website if you made use of social networking and it occurred to me that it was actually true. If you are running an e-commerce type business then you would of course need one as it’s your main selling tool but for a website not actually selling a product online you could actually wait a while.
Aside from the need element I do believe that people often “get a website” without thinking about the important aspects of who their customers are, what their keywords are and getting good benefit driven copy on their website. We all tend to focus on the look in the mistaken belief that as long as we have a couple of pages up there with our company name and details on it and it looks nice, then people will find us and want our product. That may have been the case years ago when there were not so many websites out there but not now.
So before you consider a website you should think very carefully about how you are going to set it up in terms of copy and keywords, title , meta and alt tags and of course who you are going to promote your products to. This is what SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is all about. It’s simply making your site visible to the search engines so customers can find you. Some designers when commissioned to create a website will take this into consideration and have a reasonable amount of knowledge about it but don’t assume they all do when you commission someone to design a website for you. The amount of times I ask a client if they have had their site optimised and they say “Oh I’m sure the guy that designed it would have done that”. A Web Designer is more often than not a web designer and only does the basics of SEO. Some offer SEO as a subsidiary service or as part of the package but you do need to check whether you are getting this and not just assume that you are. If it’s not included in the service then you need to consult an SEO expert preferably before you get your website designed who can work in conjunction with your designer.
Setting up a website without a thought for SEO is a bit like printing a pile of leaflets and leaving them on your sideboard. Nobody is really going to see your website any more than they will see your leaflets. You do have to market a website and SEO is the most effective way of marketing your website. So I would actually suggest to most small businesses getting underway for the first time, wait on the website if you don’t have oodles of capital, as it’s really important to get it right. There are other ways to market your business without much outlay but they will take up a bit of your time.
The first way is through a blog. Blog sites like WordPress are becoming increasingly sophisticated and you can even set up a website on WordPress. You can get someone to do it for you or learn to do it yourself using online tutorials or Wordpress’s own support. You can brand your blog just like a website and you can link back to it from a Facebook page or Twitter account. Intertwined with other social networking and some other cost-effective marketing practices you can promote your business quite effectively until you have enough capital to go about the website the proper way. I will fill you in further on WordPress and the other blog sites in the next blog.