Ask a Web Developer: Do I Need to Invest in My Local Business Website?

Outdated local business websites need upgrades for mobile friendly and SEO.

If you run a business that needs no customers, you can stop reading (and email me what that wonderful, magical business is). Or if your local business already has a highly tuned online presence and is killing it for local search, you can stop reading (and email me your URL – if you’re that good at online stuff, your product is probably awesome and I want to buy some of it). If you’ve ever looked at your own local business’s website and thought it could be better, and maybe it’s not showing up in local search results and you don’t know why, and maybe it just doesn’t work on a phone and… well, keep reading.

Mobile Searches Outnumber Desktop Searches

Google officially confirmed that as of May 2015, more searches are done via smartphones than a desktop computer. And back in April 2015, Google released an update to its search software that’s designed to showcase mobile-friendly webpages in Google’s mobile search results. So if your business’s website isn’t both optimized to work on a mobile phone and deliver local search listings for customers looking for your wares, then it might be time to invest in an upgrade.

Customers Want Quick Results

While researching how to optimize Facebook posts, I came across one that mentioned the ideal length of a Facebook post is 40 characters (if not less). Let that sink in. If people are in such a rush that 40 characters is an optimal length for a share on a social media site that people visit to relax, imagine how little time people want to spend sorting through search results when they’re searching for a local business. It’s imperative that businesses invest the time to initially optimize their website content for local search and continually massage their local SEO in order to remain relevant in search results. Gone are the days of merely putting up a website and expecting visitors.

A Broken Site on Mobile Could Be a Lost Customer

Have you ever visited a restaurant website on your smartphone and couldn’t locate the menu, let alone the hours of operation or phone number? (I’m using restaurants as an example, because restaurants are notorious for having bad mobile sites). Now imagine one of your customers found your website via mobile search (because you’ve invested in making your site SEO-friendly and relevant) and they had to bounce out of it and on to another search result because it didn’t work on their phone. Anecdotally, I’ve done it. I’m sure lots of people do it. The silver lining about upgrading your website to work on mobile devices (i.e. a responsive website) is that it’s usually a one time thing and then the site and all additions to it are mobile-friendly. Plus, mobile-friendly designs are pretty much the default these days, so moving to a responsive website design shouldn’t incur additional costs for your redesign project. (Side note, if someone wants to charge extra for a responsive website compared to one that isn’t responsive, that’s a red flag and you should find another company for an estimate).

Don’t Let Your Competition Eat Your Lunch

Whether or not you’re the only business in town that does X (especially if you’re the only one), a local business website that works well on mobile and shows up in search results brings customers to your door. As a local shopper, I’m continually amazed how Google can sniff my location and give priority in search results to a local mom & pop stationary store over behemoths like Staples, for example (not taking into account paid ads at the top of the SERP). And when I click that mom & pop store search result on my phone and their site makes it easy to find their hours, phone number, and location – you bet that’s the place I’m going. Yes, it takes time, effort, and money to get a website up to snuff, but it’s an investment in your business that returns positive results.