Having young children, the Internet is where I get a lot of information.

I may be out with friends and hear about a new restaurant that’s opened up. Later, I’m thinking about that restaurant and open up the search engine typing in the restaurant name.

This is the important part to note for small businesses. If this restaurant is a large chain, they are bound to have a website. Most probably at the top of the search page. However, for small businesses, this isn’t always the case.

This same point goes for all small businesses, whether you’re selling at a local market stall, a hairdresser, a plumber, etc. I will always be looking for a website. Facebook pages and other social media can get you to a certain point. Although without a website, I don’t feel like I really know what you’re about and how serious you are about what you do.

In my opinion as a consumer, researcher, mum and someone who doesn’t know much about plumbing at all – if I am searching for a plumber and do a search for one in my local area, one thing that comes up is the yellow pages with a basic listing and phone number. Searching this way, it is hard to find one someone that stands out and makes me feel confident in their abilities.

If you are waiting around for the “perfect time” to create a website for you business, when you have good cash flow and can afford the “expense”, stop. Right now.

I truly believe that a small business website is an investment rather than an expense, it also doesn’t have to be huge, complicated or expensive. Your website can start off simple and within a budget, while having space to grow when you have the time/funds available.

Although many websites can be static with basic information about your business, they can also grow over time. Just because you start off with a single page with a simple spiel about your business and a contact form, doesn’t mean it can’t grow with more information (and even a blog relating to your area of expertise if you can manage it).

With that said, here is my Top 5 “Bare Necessities” for your web presence (yes, I have been watching the Jungle Book a bit lately).

#1 – A unique URL with your business name

This is so simple yet easy to make the mistake to “save a few dollars”. Registering a domain name isn’t expensive, but sometimes the seemingly easy yoursite.randomdomain.com can just seem so much better – and it’ll save you $10-15 a year!!!

No. Just don’t. Please don’t… Apart from the many restrictions (and often advertisements) many of these websites have, I am much more willing to work with an established brand with a www.yourbrand.com.au web address rather than a long string of words unrelated to your business.

For a very small cost, you can have your business name up in lights and customers are much more likely to remember your website address too.

#2 – A unique logo and unique blurb about your business

This one is quite self explanatory.

An investment in your unique business logo (not something with a colour change that is the same as 20 other similar businesses out there) is just that. An investment.

The same goes for unique content. By writing about your business in a way that is relatible by your clientelle, you will stand out. Not only to them, but also to the search engines.

#3 – A contact form

Having your phone number or business address listed on your website can be great (depending exactly what industry you are in), but many people these days like to be able to make an enquiry right there and then – with a contact form being an easy way for clients to connect with you while using a little effort as possible (which is what we want!).

#4 -A Responsive Design

A few months ago, google had an update which means that any websites that don’t adhere to “mobile friendly” principles will not score as well in searches – you can check if your website is mobile friendly here.

Of course you want to do well with search engines. Another point to note about making a responsive website is the amount of potential customers who view your website on a mobile device. Whatever field you’re in, it is likely to be quite high. Having a responsive website makes things easier for your customers to view your website. Which in turn will make them more likely to go that next step further and contact you.

#5 – A professional email address

This one links in with point #1, but I thought it was worth it’s own mention.

Once you have your web address and hosting ready for your new website, it is very simple to then have a me@mybusiness.com.au email address (you can even have it linked with a gmail address if you wish). It looks a lot more professional and gives customers confidence in your business.

As always, if you would like any further information about getting your business online or have any questions about things mentioned in this blog, please contact me and we can have a chat.