Happy Fourth Of July from Ghost Blog Writers in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
We’re going to enjoy some time out in the beautiful summer weather today and I hope you’re able to do the same if you’re in the States.
But back to business. I was thinking about small businesses and how they go about using websites to market themselves. The idea of having a small business website has changed a bit over the years.
If you’re a small business owner you have more options to both create a website and to use it to market your business to get more traffic and more new customers.
You know that’s the way to grow. You have to get new customers. A website is great both if you’re looking for more local customers, but is also makes your business world bigger.
Right now, I would estimate that a third of GBW’s clients are from Australia. I haven’t targeted clients from Australia, but with the work we’re doing at GBW and on the website we attracted our target client and some happened to be in Australia. The website has allowed us to do that and I think it’s great. You have the same opportunity.
Here are a few things I see changing or continuing to be trends in small business websites the next few years.
1. More Bootstrapped Websites
In the past, it’s been common and almost necessary for small businesses to hire website designers and developers to create a website. Today, that’s not required especially if you’re a startup business that needs a site to sell a service or even a product.
Take GBW for example. People don’t order things using the site necessarily. The end goal we have for visitors on the site is to use the Contact form to contact us about blogging services. That doesn’t require a lot of functionality the way an ecommerce site does.
A lot of small businesses are in the same boat. And all you need to get a website started is a couple hundred bucks. You can ease your way into the online world without spending a ton on a website like you had to in the past.
As you grow, however, you’ll learn about your customer and you’ll need to customize your site. That’s when you can hire designers and developers to create a custom website. That’s what we did at GBW and it’s worked out great. Designers and developers are definitely still necessary, but not in the early stages of your business.
2. More WordPress
We use WordPress at GBW and we love it. We also use it for most of our clients. It’s the best blogging software available, but it’s also a great platform for managing the content of any small business website.
I think we’re going to continue to see more small businesses using WordPress. More people are becoming familiar with the platform, which means they can better manage their site. The support community around WordPress is already great and getting better. It’s relatively easy to find someone that can help you with the design or development of WordPress, which you’ll need when you run into a website issue.
3. More Responsive
People are using all kinds of different devices to access the web today. That is a trend that doesn’t seem to be changing so it’s necessary for businesses to have responsive websites so visitors get a good experience on the site no matter what device they’re using.
Responsive design is more expensive and takes more time up front, but it’s worth it in the long run. Shrink the size of your browsing window right now on GBW (if you’re on a desktop) and you’ll see the site adjust for the size. If you’re on a phone you should already see the difference.
An optimized site for different devices leads to more traffic, more happy visitors and more conversions.
4. Better Hosting And Page Speed
This one is big, but it hasn’t really caught on entirely yet. I just looked at a personal website of mine and when the host slowed down the site we lost 25% of our traffic.
That’s huge. It happened over a year ago with GBW and I switched hosts to make sure the site was always fast. It was been well worth it and now I have to make the same change with my other site.
Page speed is more important than you think. If you’re going to invest money in a website you’ll need to invest in a good host. It’s a top priority.
5. Fresh Content
Finally, businesses have overlooked fresh content for years, but that will change. The reason it will change is that the companies that are creating fresh content on their website are doing better than websites that don’t.
It’s a simple equation: the more content you have on your site the more there is for your target audience to find. Blogging is a great way to provide the content your customers are looking for online. You bring them to your site and start working them through the online sales process.
It’s what we do at GBW and it’s really the only way we bring in new customers.
Hopefully these insights help you with your small business website plans. These things aren’t really new to a lot of people. Many business owners have already been making changes based on these trends. Now it’s time for you to do the same if you’re looking to grow your small business with a website in the coming years. These things will happen with or without you. If it’s not you it will be your current competitors or a competitor that isn’t even around yet.