Do small businesses still need a website in 2019? Sandro and Liz discuss this. The answer seems to be less and less. Find out why.

Episode 0341



Do SMBs Need a Website In 2019?


Liz [00:00:03] Hey there. Welcome back to the show. I’m Liz Hersh and my cohost is Sandro Galindo. Together we share tips and insight on digital marketing for small businesses, covering everything from search engine optimization to social media to reputation management. Today Sandro is going to debate and hopefully answer the question, “Do you still need a website?”

Sandro [00:00:24] Thanks Liz. Where the answer used to be a resounding…

Liz [00:00:27] Yes.

Sandro [00:00:28] I believe more and more the answer is…not so much.

Liz [00:00:32] Yes, I’m intrigued to debate this.

Sandro [00:00:34] And at this point many businesses should and still do require one. But the rise of no-click searches and what we’ve talked about, talked about in the past where basically Google is answering so many things these days, more and more people are asking, “Do I really need a website?” And this kind of stems from the fact that a client recently started brunch, in their restaurant. After some Instagram posts of the new menu items, a friend asked me, “What are the prices for brunch?” And I said, “Huh. You know what I’m not sure, look at their website.” And my friend said after a pause, “Oh my god, I didn’t even think of that. I did not think of looking at their website.” And she seemed amazed at herself and looked at me and said, “I’m not sure why I didn’t even consider looking at their website.”.

Liz [00:01:22] Like the thought of going to a company’s website was brand new to her.

Sandro [00:01:27] Yeah, well she, right. That kind of shows me that people aren’t even considering websites anymore.

Liz [00:01:33] And you said she was very young, correct?

Sandro [00:01:36] No she’s in her early 40s.

Liz [00:01:38] Oh, okay.

Sandro [00:01:39] Yeah, she loves brunch as many women in their 30s and 40s love brunch.

Liz [00:01:42] We do.

Sandro [00:01:43] But they don’t look at brunch menus they just show up.

Liz [00:01:46] Well I do.

Sandro [00:01:47] Websites.

Liz [00:01:48] Yeah.

Sandro [00:01:49] That kind of shows me that people aren’t considering websites anymore and it wasn’t even the website that sold this potential new brunch customer. It was a series of Instagram food posts. As I told Liz, I have a friend who moves around the country quite a bit and as such has friends spread out everywhere who also move around. She’s, yeah in her mid 20s. She sends gifts to her friends, she loves sending baked goods. And how does she find these bakeries and baked goods in each of these towns around the world? Instagram. She looks for bakeries and cities via Instagram. Looks at their pictures of the baked goods and if she likes them, she contacts the bakery, orders delivery to her friend. Again, 0 website, just 100 percent Instagram.

Sandro [00:02:31] I’ve mentioned my favorite falafel place in the past episodes, Frank’s Falafel here in Cleveland. Around the corner from me, been around 11 years. I’ve begged them to let me build a website. They don’t take me up on it. They’re still always busy, they’re still serving the best falafel in town. They don’t need a website. So these are all food places I’m mentioning and certainly they are the first that come to mind for me anyways. Because you can now enter menus into Google My Business, so your menu can potentially appear on Google as well as your hours, location and phone.

Sandro [00:02:51] But other industries that may not need a website I’d say are generally service industries. You know, a dry cleaner 30 years in business, no website. They run Google ads for phone calls. They’ve optimized their Google My Business. They post wedding dresses they’ve tailored as photos on Instagram. These are all industries that may not need websites.

Sandro [00:03:22] Liz asked if a roofer still needs a website. I say they don’t either. Most people are looking at reviews of the roofers before they’re going to the websites as well as just getting into contact with them from Google. They’re not clicking through. I’d love to see a roofer’s Google Analytics and how many clicks they’re actually getting instead of just phone call. And you can look at that in Google My Business, how many people are clicking on your phone number. They can also run a lead capture ad campaign on Facebook or calls from Google. So the theme here is Google My Business. If you’re not going to have a website, that’s where you want to go to optimize and let Google know who you are so that they can display your information to potential customers.

Liz [00:03:59] So I’m still leaning towards yes, having a website. And I’m, you know like this, my viewpoint could evolve over the next several months and years, but I feel like there’s still so many people that are going to websites to verify existence. Like for me personally, just having a Google My Business that’s filled out and complete, to me does not do enough to verify your credibility. Like I still want to go to your website. Check it out. What are you offering? Is this legit? You know, and then I would be comfortable making a purchase or picking up the phone.

Sandro [00:04:36] And I get that. And I believe, like I said, most businesses it’s not a bad thing to have a website, it’s definitely not a bad thing to have a website. But do you NEED a website? I think it’s less and less. You know, another reason you need a website, if you’re selling things. Sometimes though I’d even argue, just use Amazon or eBay. Yeah you have to pay them a commission but everyone’s there, why rebuild the wheel? Another reason to have one that you definitely want one is if you have a lot of information, let’s say like an automobile, you may want to be the definitive authority on a product where people are doing a lot of research before they buy.

Sandro [00:05:10] Or if you’re a non-profit and want to share information about what you do and all the good things that you’ve done in the past.

Liz [00:05:16] Or if you’re a company that’s actively hiring and you need a career section with a very clear place for applicants to fill out and provide their resume, maybe?

Sandro [00:05:27] Could be, but of course I don’t have LinkedIn but I feel like you can do that there?

Liz [00:05:33] The client that I’m specifically thinking of I’m actually building a website for them. They do get quite a lot of applicants coming from LinkedIn, but it’s junky, it’s spammy, it’s people just clicking a button. And so they want to funnel them to the website where they actually have to look at what they’re applying for.

Sandro [00:05:52] So generally where the answer, again was usually 100 percent yes. I think it’s becoming less and less 100 percent yes. About 15 years ago I bought a video on, “Did we really land on the moon?” And it was a great video and we had a little party at my friend’s house to watch it. And we all walked away still believing we landed on the moon, but where we were 100 percent sure we went to the moon, this video made us go down to 98 percent sure that we went to the moon. So I kind of look at it that way. Whereas before I was 100 percent sure you needed a website, now I’m down to maybe 95 percent sure you need a website.

Sandro [00:06:37] Bottom line, if you’re in the service industry and have a storefront or a building that people visit you, chances are you don’t have to have a website in 2019. Social media, including paid social as well as optimizing your Google My Business can be just as effective if not more so. And I feel like that’s the future for websites. I feel like we’ve reached peak website. The need and reliance for websites from a couple of years ago, it’s not as necessary anymore. Since then Google seems to have taken over, says, ‘we’ll handle this.’ And as mentioned in the past, 2016 was the first year the number of people actually clicking through on a Google result began to go down. The number of people leaving Google to go to a website began to drop dramatically in 2016.

Sandro [00:07:22] And one more quick side note. If you’re worried about voice search in the future of search, certainly a lot more has to shake out there, no one seems to have figured that out. But at least not right now. But as of now they’re mostly using data from Google My Business and Wikipedia to serve up answers to questions. So again, at this point, not a real reason for a small business to have a website as it doesn’t affect that. So bottom line, where it used to be 100 percent. Now I’m not bothering Frank’s Falafel anymore to build their website. You don’t really have to have one as much. It’s not as necessary.

Liz [00:07:56] So if companies are shifting away from maintaining a website, and obviously there’s, depending on how big the website is, you know, it could be a lot between hosting and maintenance and updates and images and other design. This potentially frees up some space in their budget. Where and how do you think companies should reallocate that budget?

Sandro [00:08:17] Paid social or Google ads, depending on what you do. Yeah, you’re right. You don’t have to pay for the web hosting anymore or the web URL. You know, just a quick side note, I thought of one great reason to have a website is to get your own email address. A vanity, vanity email address.

Liz [00:08:31] Oh yeah, I was just going to say, you still would want to, you still need the, want to pay for the domain name so you could still have

Sandro [00:08:40] Which we do. But yeah. So that’s one benefit of having your own URL or your own website and one that some customers, some clients get very excited by.

Liz [00:08:48] So I think that definitely legitimizes you as a business. Having that vanity URL.

Sandro [00:08:54] Yeah. But a recent realtor client, she insisted on sticking with her email address. Even though we got her a brand new website and brand new URL she loves her email address.

Liz [00:09:06] And there will always be those people who just, who are clinging to their AOL email.

Sandro [00:09:13] Right.

Liz [00:09:13] Well awesome. Great information. Definitely a topic we would love to hear from our listeners on. Do you think having a website is still necessary? Or, are you backing off that a little bit, are you maybe down to, like Sandro 98 percent or maybe even 50 percent. We want to hear from you. Let us know. That wraps up today’s episode. Don’t forget to find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Show us some love on your favorite podcast app. You can find us on iTunes, Spotify and Google Podcast. We’ll see you next time.