Covid-19 has f**ked everyone over this year, especially small and local businesses. Barbers, beauty salons, florists, independent gyms have all been forced to close for many months, resulting in a huge loss of income. With the rules changing every 5 microseconds, these businesses are focusing on one thing… keeping existing customers and gaining new ones.

Naturally, you’d think that social media is the best place to start to keep your regulars up-to-date and catch the eye of some punters looking for a fresh trim or a new set of nails. You would be correct in doing so, however, social media will not suffice on its own.

Firstly, not everyone is on social media. Some may have Facebook, some may have Instagram, some may opt for Snapchat. Others may not even have any social media at all. For a small business, you don’t have the time to manage all of these. With a website, anyone who has a phone, tablet or a computer can find you in 1 simple Google search, without having to sign up to anything or download any extra apps. Updating your website is easy, you can do it yourself with some platforms or simply fire off a quick text message to your web designer to do it, if you have a good working agreement with them.

Another issue with social media is that they’re all different. Sure, you may be able to post photos and messages but Twitter has the word limit, Instagram is all photo-based, Facebook is too crowded… you get the idea. With a website, you have a central place for your customers to visit, where nothing is different and nothing needs to be changed or adapted to fit, it just works.

Finally, social media lacks personalisation and makes branding difficult. Sure you may be able to set a profile picture and cover photo but that is pretty much it. With a website, you choose the design, you choose the layout. Want to make buttons and links pink? Sure. Want to have an image slider? Got it. Only with a website, you have this level of customisation and freedom.

So now you’re thinking about getting a website or updating that tired old 1-pager your friend Dave put together for you 5 years ago… you may be wondering how much it will set you back and can you expect an instant return on investment?

Firstly, a website should be affordable for both small and large businesses. The market is so polluted by freelancers offering websites for £20 and greedy agencies wanting £2000 for one. With the former, you’re almost guaranteed to get a cowboy job and the latter you’re just getting taken advantage of. I will put out another post on how to find a good web designer and how much a website really costs with a breakdown but let’s answer the second burning question on ROI…

A website will not suffice by itself. Just like how a social media profile won’t. The best way to drive traffic to your website organically is to register with Google My Business and link your website. This is a sure-fire way for people to find your website when searching for your business. It’s free and takes less than a week to get approved. Secondly, your web designer should perform good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on your website. This means making sure your website meets certain requirements to get on search engines like Google and tells the search engines your website exists. Finally, social media can be used hand-in-hand with your website… put posts out and link to it, put the website link in your profile’s bio, get your friends to link it, shout about it from the rooftops. This is a practice of SEO called building backlinks. It helps your website show up more when people are searching for businesses like yours.

I may have got a bit carried away with this post, so I appreciate if you’ve made it this far and hope this has given you a bit of insight on how to keep your business going during these awful times when technology is at the forefront of today’s post-Covid society.

Thanks for reading.