As an internet marketing manager, I have had many discussions with business clients over the years about the merits of having their own domain-based websites or blogs. With the rise of social media, they often wonder why they need a domain-based website for their business at all? It comes down to what their internet goals are. When asked what their internet goals are, the majority of clients want to drive more traffic to their business and want to be found near the top of the search engine rankings.
While social media and third-party selling platforms like Etsy offer many advantages for business owners including cost savings, only a domain-based website can help business owners reach both of these goals as well as give the business owner something else the others can’t which is total control over their internet business and their business identity.
Your Website vs Social Media: The Benefits of Social Media for Small Business
With the growth of social media, many business owners starting out today feel that they can run their businesses solely through social media platforms and forego their own domain-based website or blog, but both need to be part of your overall internet marketing strategy.
Besides the fact that it is free to get a social media business page setup on sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, the allure of millions of people on these platforms looking to interact with you could let you grow a following faster than you could through a website so many business owners want to push back on the expense and time having their own website entails.
Social media comes SEO ready, because of their huge amount of pages, the sharing of content, and their popularity, having a Business Page on one of the large social media sites are SEO ready and this is why your page will often show up in the search rankings through these websites. Often a client’s social media page ranking will be just as high or higher than their website’s home page.
Social media also has some great marketing tools like pay-per-click advertising, email lists and analytics so you can advertise your goods and services right on your social media business page. All of this seems like I am disproving my own argument for having a domain-based website except for one basic premise.
You Don’t Control How Social Media Behaves
If you only use social media, you are “putting all your eggs in one basket”. The social media platform controls all aspects not you as the business page user. Social media platforms are designed to attract as many users to their platforms as possible through the services they offer, but they also control how their platform is run. They can make changes to their platform whenever they want and you don’t have a say, even if it will impact your business.
A good example of this is when Facebook recently cracked down on advertising for certain items and anything related to this item. This change in policy effected 1000’s of business owners overnight who had anything that was deemed by the Facebook algorithms to be related to the industry. A business owner who made cases or shoulder straps that could be used for this item even if it could also be used as a Guitar case or Guitar strap was affected by this change.
Social media platforms could start charging for their services and if you were dependent on a You Tube for example to host all your video vlogs, you might suddenly find you or your subscribers have to pay extra fees to access the content.
Social media platforms could suddenly shut down and you could find yourself locked out of your business with no way to access it or your business identity.
That is why social media should be used as a powerful marketing tool in conjunction with your domain-based website not as the hub of your business. Social media should be used as a marketing tool to drive internet traffic back to your website. Use that traffic to grow your email and customer list so you can then communicate with them on your own terms.
Third-Party Platforms vs Domain-Based Websites
When I say a unique domain-based website, I mean one that uses your business URL and is not built on another third-party platform where your business is actually a page. www.ownedbyvets.com is a unique domain registered through Go daddy and built on WordPress.
Many sellers will use a third-party platform like Etsy and create selling pages for their products. This might be ok when you are first starting out, but as long as you are on Etsy you are not actually creating your own business identity and you are subject to the regulations a platform like Etsy puts forward. It’s like having a table at the local craft fair, you are subject to whatever happens with that craft fair and you’re not actually calling your own shots. Having your own unique location gives you the control over what you what to do. Your first step once you decide to be online should be to purchase your domain name, they’re like $12 -$15 per year.
If you decide to use a platform like Etsy shop you can link it to your domain as well as send your social media and advertising to your domain. Once you’re getting enough traffic coming to your shop to make it worth it, then put money into making your own unique shop off the shopping platform.
This way, when you make the change – everyone is still clicking the same link, but now it points to your website. Until you have enough people using that link to make it worth spending the money on a separate shop, you don’t have to invest any more than a few dollars.
Platforms like Etsy, rather than you as a business owner with your own website, are building up their credibility on the search engines by having thousands of pages created by small business owners sending traffic to their website.
Having your own website combined with an online social media strategy also allows you to market your business online more effectively by cross promoting your products or services on various mediums.
Your goal should be to get onto your unique domain-based website as some as possible so you can start reaping the benefits of building up your search engine credibility in the form of search visibility. Even if your website visibility scores are low to start and you don’t plan to go full speed, small positive steps will have an impact on the search engines and your internet marketing efforts.
Why is Having Your Own Domain-Based Website Important
Having a unique domain-based website is important because it helps you establish your business credibility with the search engines. Even if you have a basic website or blog to start with, it allows the search engines to start indexing your business and you have 100% control of how your business is presented to the internet.
Having your own domain-based website gives you a place to upload your original content including videos, articles and white papers that gives your business the credit in the search engines. This credit goes towards improving your Search Engine Visibility Score which is how well your website ranks in the search engines compared to other websites in your industry. Even if you start slowly and add original content to your website on a consistent basis, the search engines will take notice and look favorably on your website.
Having your own domain-based website allows people to share your unique URL to give you link credit in the search engines, this link building is another powerful tool that search engines like Google recognize as part of their search engine rankings.
Keep Your Costs Down
One of the main reasons I started the Ownedbyvets website and blog was to offer Veterans who own businesses and have their own websites or have started internet marketing, internet marketing tips that they can do to help keep their costs down and improve their search engine rankings.
The first thing a business owner should do if they are considering marketing online is to buy their domain name, even if they are not going to set up a website right away it is important to secure your business identity that starts with your domain name. As discussed previously this is a low-cost step and insures that you have the name you want when you are ready.
Before you launch your website do your research on the costs involved with website hosting, designing your website and developing it. Based on your level of technical expertise how much help will you need. There are template hosting sites like Shopify or Go Daddy where you can build your own website with the amount of help you choose.
When the website is developed and before it is launched, you’ll want to consider SEO or search engine optimization. SEO is optimizing your website for keywords relevant to your business to help it rank in the search engines. For example, if you are selling “red rubber balls” you’ll want to “optimize” your website with the keyword “red rubber balls” and variables that people search for so the search engine will identify your website with selling “red rubber balls”. You may need to hire an SEO Expert like myself to optimize your website if you don’t have the time yourself.
All of these costs should be researched before you launch your domain-based website, so you have a budget in mind before jumping in.
A Unique Domain-Based Website is the Ultimate Goal
If you have done your research and you know your budget and the time has come to expand from social media or third-party platforms only then you’re ready to establish your own internet identity.
Having your own domain-based website combined with an online social media strategy also allows you to market your business online more effectively by cross- promoting your products or services on various mediums.
Your ultimate goal based on your budget and circumstances should be to get your unique domain-based website up and running some as possible so you can start reaping the benefits of building up your search engine credibility in the form of search visibility. Even if your website visibility scores are low to start and you don’t plan to go full speed, small positive steps will have an impact on the search engines and your internet marketing efforts.