Domain Names for SaleBeing a part-time web designer, I often hear from small local businesses who enquire about a new website, either their old website looks naff and is never found on Google, or they have no website at all.

The thing I try to tell them is that a well managed and regularly updated website is by far the best marketing tool your business can have, and best of all, after the set up costs, your annual expense of running it is minimal. The trouble is, many small business owners do not see the investment of a few hundred pounds as a long term earner for them.

I was speaking with an established business owner recently, they have a website already, but were frustrated that a competitor was ranking well in Google for search terms they felt that their website should be found. They simply wanted to know what they could do to compete. Their idea was to set up a new website and stuff keywords in it so that they would rank at the top of Google, once found by a visitor they hoped they would just call their phone number therefore creating a crap website but generate more business.

My comments were rather to invest some time and effort into the current, 4 year old established website he owned already and create pages that would rank naturally well anyway. His site was an HTML template adjusted by an amateur web designer, it contained pointless images and it was an unappealing grey colour. Any customer who did find the website would automatically think this is an amateur outfit, I won’t bother using them.

I offered him a revamped website, using WordPress so that he could easily update it himself, and even add a section to sell some of his shop items online when he was ready at a later date. I quoted a sensible price, and provided him with a full summary in email, pointing out that some decent investment in a brand new, well optimised website was much more likely to generate some leads and therefore convert into sales and provide a return on the investment. It seemed like a no brainer to me, he either carried on doing nothing with a dated and unappealing website, or he invested a few hundred quid and focussed on growing the website and creating an online business too.

At this stage, he is “thinking about it”.

My advice for anyone in business these days is get your website correct. If you don’t have the funds available to invest, then read up on what you need to create your own WordPress site, buy some hosting for about £50 a year and join an online forum that will help answer any questions you have. Don’t just do nothing and sit there wondering why other businesses are beating yours.