Social media or a business website: which is best for business?

Marketing and brand

3 May 2017

Research has shown that small businesses with websites are 51% more likely to grow than those without. Most SMEs have embraced social media, but creating a website as well adds an extra dynamic to online marketing.

Creating your own website is pretty straightforward if you’re reasonably IT literate. And if not, there are plenty of freelance developers who can help: don’t forget that website costs can be included as allowable business expenses for tax purposes.

It’s all in the name

The first thing to do is secure your domain name, your website’s unique address. This is usually your business name – you can find out whether it’s available on a site such as ICANN. You’ll then need to buy and register your domain name via a domain registrar like 123-reg. The registrar may also be able to host your website.

The perfect host

All websites need a home, so you’ll need to find a server to host your new site. Most people opt for a hosting company, who for a subscription will look after your site for you. If you decide to build your website through a developer or agency, this is something they can take care of for you.

Website design

You can create a good looking website for free using Wix or a WordPress account. Choose the template that suits your business: for example, is it an image-heavy website, or are the words more important? Make sure it’s a responsive template that works with mobiles and tablets.

Getting the detail right

You can buy stock images from libraries such as Shutterstock, or use your own photos. Check they’re high quality, and if you’re using any photo-library images, ensure they’re licensed for commercial use.

If writing isn’t your thing, hire a freelance content writer to produce or edit the copy. Having plenty of good, up-to-date content is essential if you want the search engines to love your website.

Search engine optimisation and pay per click

These are the main ways that browsers find websites. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the organic (free) way of getting your website to rank well. This can be done by having lots of relevant content, paying attention to key phrases, and having plenty of links in and out of your website. Posting a regular blog can help with this.

If you feel you need a leg-up, you can take out an advert with Google. You pay each time someone clicks on the advert, but guarantees that your website will appear when people search for relevant terms. There are SEO and PPC experts who can advise you for a fee.

Looking after your website

Like a garden, you don’t just plant a website and leave it alone. Try to post regular blogs and updates, for your customers as well as the search engines.

You can use Google Analytics to track your website’s performance – if you like stats, you’ll really enjoy this. Keep your static pages (the permanent pages such as Home) up to date, and check that all links still work.

Look after your site and update it regularly, and it’ll be a valuable marketing tool.