If any company wants to potentially expand its business and reach out to a wider audience, it really needs a website. Without a website, potential or their target customers may not even know that they exist. And when building a site, remember to ensure the texts used are searchable- ie don’t create navigation links using images- because search engines cannot find them.
Let me illustrate my point by sharing with you my own experience.
From young, I’ve always love craft and often go to craft supply stores to buy ribbons, beads or just to look at craft for inspiration. Just looking at craft supplies would instantly destress me and because I used to dabble with crafts myself, I went exploring to many places in search of craft supply stores.
Now as a blogger, I still enjoy visiting craft supply stores. The difference is I now ask permission from the shop assistant or owners to take photos so that I can share with my readers. I also asked them for their name cards.
And you know what, most of them don’t even have a website listed on their name cards. So when people search for flower or craft suppliers in Malaysia or KL, they would land at my Visit Malaysia blog- instead of landing at the site of that particular shop or supplier. For example, I only wrote one article on Malay wedding supplies that is enough to have that blog listed in the first few pages of Google search. I would think it should be the business itself who should be listed there.
It’s relatively inexpensive to set up a website nowadays. You can go to freelancers or pay a college student/intern to do one for you- but ensure that you are the owner of the site- and not the freelancer or the student. Or you can just google and take a crash course to set up a website in a weekend. Your website does not need to be perfect: but it should contain all the related words and phrases for your targeted customers to find you.
To built trust and credibility- because first impressions count for potential customers who do not know you yet, consider the following:
1. Buy your own domain name and pay for hosting. Don’t use free hosting or blogging platform like blogger. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to show to your potential customers that you mean business. Many people usually don’t taking hotfrogs and blogspot sites seriously. And check around to make sure the hosting company is reputable and have been around for sometime (not the fly by night type who can disappear with your money). Remember also to have auto renewal- so that your site does not go missing or your domain name bought over by a flipper when you forget to renew your domain.
2. If you are selling supplies, have clear photographs of the products that you are selling, speak of the benefits, etc. Provide testimonials from satisfied customers. Pay someone to write a good web copy about your business.
3. The words and phrases need to be searchable via search engines. That means, your company’s content pages and navigation bars should not be built using images/graphics. Inexperienced business owners who pay someone who built the website- may get a more sophiscated and the site may even look professional- but the search engines cannot find the site even though the name of the company is typed in the search engine. This should be obvious enough- but I still see some sites making this very costly mistake. There’s this guy I know who is seriously working very hard to build his business- but his website does not even show up in the search engine for the product he is selling- whereas his competitors’ sites are all appearing within the same geographic location. He got into the business early but he lost that edge for the simple reason- his site is not searchable.
I want to further illustrate point # 3 with this real example: when people search for “flower supplier in petaling street” or “flower supplier in kl“ -because many people know that one of the main flower supplier is the one located in Petaling Street near Maybank but forget the name of the company. When they try to search for the information, at time of writing this article, my blog is listed at the main search instead of the supplier’s website. Why they cannot find the company directly? Because if you go to the site, you would notice that the navigation links and words on the site consist of images- they are not the real words that you can copy and paste from a keyboard to notepad or something. As such, you can have the most beautiful design but the site would not optimise on its full potential because customers cannot find it. If I had not requested for a name card from the cashier, I would not know the supplier’s website url. A number of people found the supplier through my blog article. That’s why, I want to emphasize this point- to make sure you do not waste money on a beautiful but non functional design.
Optimised fully- your website would serve as the low cost 24 hours advertising tool for your company. It is truly indespensible in order to surive in today’s competitive business environment. It has bccome something that you cannot afford not to have.