Small businesses may benefit without their own website

Nearly every small business has a website these days, but looking at search results, it’s getting harder and harder for them to compete against large directory type websites. For instance, The Abbeville pub in Clapham is ranked 5th in a pile of directory websites that have pages about it. Not bad, but not amazing either. It’s a situation I fully expect to get worse.

Search isn’t the be all and the end all, and it does look more professional to have a dedicated email address, but I do wonder what the point of their own fairly expensive website is. It seems more beneficial to me for companies like The Abbeville to invest their time and money into perfecting pages on the likes of Timeout, BeerInTheEvening and UrbanSpoon.

As these directory/review sites gain more and more traction with audiences and in search, it will be harder and harder for a small site to compete. So why bother? If these sites bring in customers, make the most of them. The Abbeville could save on web maintenance and won’t have to worry about the complexities of search because the directory sites all employ experts on inflated wages.

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    An interesting point of view. Even as a web design and build company, the two questions we ask, is why do you want a website, and what do you hope it will do for you. There has to be a clarity on these issues for us to take on any project, otherwise it can simply be pandering to the owners thoughts that everyone has one, so iI should to.

  • Very interesting perspective. From a consumer and business perspective, I think it adds a lot of credibility to a small business – even restaurants to have a website. I like to see how they present themselves and I think it can give you a taster (hopefully) of the experience you can expect. Reviews on Timeout etc… are still important, but sometimes I just want to get to the brand website to get my own feel for a place.

  • Hmm, but that would only work for industries where there were already lots of directory sites. Fine for pubs, but what if you’re a fish farm?? Anyway, I agree with Suzie – in fact just this morning I booked a restaurant based on their website. I had a shortlist, and another restaurant was in the lead before I checked their websites, but the picture the website painted of one of my second choices was so nice that I went with them over my first choice. I want to know more about a place than a directory site is going to tell me – although where a company has control over their listing in the directory site I would certainly recommend they spend time and effort getting the listing right!

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    Thanks, I agree with all those points. I too judge a lot by a website and it certainly wouldn’t work if an industry has no directory. Directory sites do currently look a jumbled mess, but I wonder what would happen if they allowed for a degree of more customisation, content and input. For instance, if a pub’s page could reflect the business in as powerful a way as their website (all I really want to look at is good photos and information). Agencies could be employed for this process, so they wouldn’t necessarily lose out. Another personal example is my mum and dad’s holiday cottage in Yorkshire that they let out. They receive hundreds of enquiries from the directories, but spend far more time on their own site. This being the case, it seems like a total waste of time maintaining their own site even if it does look better.