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The Shocking Truth About Most Small Businesses

The Shocking Truth About Most Small Businesses

There is no way to avoid it. Your online presence now defines you. It has become the essential extension of a business or personal brand.

A recent survey by Yodle found that  52% of all small business owners do not have a website.That is a scary and shocking statistic. This means that they are putting their business at an immediate disadvantage.

In 2014 there is no reason to not have your brand online no matter how small your business is!

There are only two alternatives

To get your brand on the web there are really only two options. Do it yourself, or pay someone to do it for you

The DIY route means that you can now have website or blog with a few simple steps for as low as $3.95 per month with a free domain and WordPress template! If you don’t have the time, the inclination or don’t have the ability to do it yourself then you can get one done for you for a few hundred dollars. Sites like Elance and Freelancer provide the low cost means to design and build a website or blog.

If you don’t want to stretch to that huge expense then you have some “free” options. You could have a Tumblr or Blogger account which are free and can be set up in a matter of minutes.

There is no excuse except either laziness, a big procrastination gene or just plain ignorance.

How do you appear when “Googled”

Business credibility is damaged if you do not appear when a search for your business is performed online. 10 years ago it was maybe an option but today it is mandatory and essential to have your name appear in a domain name.

What appears when you are “Googled”?

If all that comes up is your Twitter profile then you don’t look serious. If you have a Linkedin profile then at least you are making an effort. If you have a Facebook page then you are relevant. Have a Google+ page… then you are almost a trendsetter. On Pinterest and Instagram then you are super cool!

The other aspect of small business that the survey revealed was that online advertising was only used by 12% of small business. In an era of easy self serve digital marketing with targeted Facebook sponsored boosted posts it shows that many small businesses are struggling to reinvent themselves in a digital world.

So what are the essentials?

So if you don’t have a blog or website or need to improve your online brand, here are some essentials you need to consider optimizing, improving or just plain do!

1. Create a compelling “About us” page

This page is one of the most visited page on your website. Often it ranks as the second most visited page on a website or blog after the homepage. At a glance your homepage should make it easy for people to know what you’re about when they land.

When they visit the “about us” page it should provide the in depth reasons why people should read your articles, view your content or buy from you. If you are an authority in your field then it should highlight the awards you have won, the clients you work with and third party verification.

Easy to scan online social proof provides that important validated credibility.

2. Be “memorable”

Being memorable online is an art and a science. It means that you have to consider a brand name, design and a distinct “voice” that cuts through the clutter and noise. Again you can do it yourself or get professional help.

Alexandra Watkins of “Eat My Words” (who I have worked with) can help with that creative “cut through” with a memorable name.

Standing out can be enhanced with a web design that doesn’t scream “me too”. Being memorable also means creating a brand voice that comes through in your writing style. This is sometimes called your “writing voice

3. Designed for the social web

Making your content move with minimal friction is now an essential tactic on this social web. Obvious sharing buttons that allow people to share while reading your content is now a core design essential.

Sometimes designers will want to get funky and minimize their visibility or ease of use. That is a fight you need to win. Function over form is the mantra here!

4. Optimized for subscribing

The demise of the “free” social network lunch where getting organic visibility and reach on Facebook has diminished to single percentage figures has highlighted what has always been essential. Building your “own” large email list.

It means you need to have a high conversion rate from website visitors and traffic to “subscribers”. This means doing the following:

  • Turning your homepage into a massive subscribe form
  • Using non-annoying popovers
  • Create a strong incentive to subscribe with a free offer (eg ebook) in return for that important name and email address

5. Content centric that adds amazing value

Content that is easy to read, view and consume is vital. But it also needs to add value to your website visitors lives and business. This means it has to be well structured filled with stories and statistics and solve problems.

Cliches and fluffy acronyms sound nice on the surface but they often lack depth and meaningful takeaways. It means that your website should include content such as

  • ebooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Regular blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Cheatsheets

6. Visible credibility

Visible and quick takeaway credibility is important on the web where you are one only one click away from oblivion. This means that the website should display in a heart beat your credibility.

This includes:

  • Books you have written
  • Publications you have appeared or have been quoted in
  • Awards you have won
  • Social proof that displays how many people are sharing your content and following you on social networks
  • The customers you have worked for

7. Optimized for search engines

Many websites have an awesome design but they aren’t built for “Googling’. It means that the key words and phrases that potential customers use to find your goods and services are missing or are buried so deep in the website code that search engine crawlers can’t index your site.

So make sure that before you design and develop your website or blog that the top 20 to 50 phrases you want to rank for are included.

8. Products and services to sell

Bloggers and website owners need to have products and services to sell. Otherwise, what is the point of creating great content and driving traffic to you site. Making sure you have these visible and easy to find in your homepage tabs is key.

9. Landing pages that convert

How many advertisements on Google or Facebook have you seen that just take people to a homepage.  The problem with that is that they make it hard for people to subscribe, register or buy.

Home pages are typically not designed to convert traffic to subscribers.

If you are promoting a product then you need to have a landing page that converts. You will also need to test and keep testing your conversion rates to optimize that page.

10. Built for mobile

The uptake of mobile, apps and tablets has surprised many organisations small and large. There is a mad scramble to design blogs, websites and apps that make it easy for potential customers to view, use and buy on a mobile device.

In some industry sectors up to 50% of traffic is now coming from smart phones and tablets.

What about you?

On this fast moving web we all have much work to do. The pace of change doesn’t seem to be slowing but accelerating.

So what do you need to work on today?


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  • That number is shocking Jeff. 52% really? There are 2.5 billion people online everyday, it just seems like a logical place to find customers for your business. What’s cooler is when you create a business online that allows location independence!

  • Jeff,
    Most business owners who have no website don’t see the value and/or don’t have time to do it themselves. They may want a site, but especially if they are fairy busy already and have no clue about he online world, it goes to the back burner.

    Should they invest the time in their business? If they look at the ROI they’d get from a proper website (with the elements in your post), it likely exceeds most of their other expenditures by a large margin. As you note, getting a nice site needn’t be difficult, time consuming, or expensive.

    Thanks to WordPress,and the variety of great themes available, skilled WP designers can put together a great site very cost effectively. It’s one of marketing’s great values.

    After the have a site, they can move from the “something’s better than nothing” stage and progress to things like landing page optimization and mobile sites.
    Thanks for the post

    • Gary L. Dorion

      I’m wondering if you could suggest an inexpensive WordPress site that would be right for a small online gift-type store?

  • CatherineBroughton

    I have two websites, both designed and managed by one of my sons. I do find it a huge bore and a chore, though. Click on this and click on that … I told my son that I feel about it the way he would feel if I asked him to do the ironing!

  • Totally agree with this,
    I am actually not bothered by the new Facebook ending the ‘free ride’ for small businesses. I had been thinking and expecting that for over a year now and been working on every other social platform I could and getting my website and blog going as good as possible…. Ive been in depth studying how to make my site better and working on SEO now Im all over that front page of google search for any type of photography session or search in my area.
    I think its good because my market is so saturated by the ‘photographers’ that went and bought an $800 camera and started a Facebook page and undercut the professionals that have been building their business for years through education, knowledge, and hard work. These people doing this often just have a facebook page, do like ladders to get more likes, and offer low cost shoot and burn for something like 25-$50 which is just ridiculous.
    Now that the Facebook free ride is over, maybe many of these ‘businesses’ will be as well. When they learn how much hard work it really is to build and maintain a business without just having Facebook, I am sure many will not take the time to get on the train so to speak. And if they do with just starting now its going to be harder for them to learn.
    There are some that truly want to be in the business and I support those that do, the ones that seek out knowledge and actually learn how to use their gear and such, but I do not respect those that come into the industry just thinking it is a quick buck and using Facebook only and connections on there to undercut everyone else in the community that have real businesses.

  • I’m working on building a following for my second business. My focus is creating really useful content.

    I have a question on item #8. I’ve noticed that some people don’t link to their products/ services from their website. Instead they sell to their email lists and/ or via webinars. Do you have a view on this?

  • Mephistopheles

    The only thing that’s shocking is the assertion that 52% of ALL small business owners do not have a website based on a sample of only 300 survey participants. With more than 30 million small businesses in the US alone this hardly seems like a valid sample upon which to write such a sensationalist headline.