For Non-designer, Non-techie Business Owners
If you are considering WordPress for your small business website, you will find many articles online outlining various reasons WordPress is a great platform. Most of these articles, however, are written either from a design perspective (how easy it is to create and update your website content) or from a technical perspective (easy installation, plugins, free technical support, etc.).
These articles can be helpful for small business owners. But in this article, I want to consider WordPress from the perspective of a small business owner—a non-designer, non-techie point of view.
I admit, it’s difficult to completely ignore design and technical issues when talking about websites. A small business website needs to incorporate both good design principles and solid technical features.
But for the small business owner who does not have time to tinker away at her own website because she is too busy working on the business she loves, here are six business reasons for choosing WordPress for your small business website.
Reason #1: WordPress is Secure
Security is critical for business owners. If you have a physical location for your business, you know how important security is. Keeping your online business secure is no less important.
You might have heard or read that WordPress websites are insecure. Hardly a month goes by when WordPress is not in the news for being hacked because of security vulnerabilities. While these cases are generally true, you need to get all the facts.
Why do so many WordPress websites get hacked?
First, WordPress is the number one website platform on the Internet today. Approximately 22% of all websites are built on WordPress. That’s almost a quarter of all websites! Considering the Internet topped 1 billion websites in 2014, that means there are at least 200 million WordPress websites out there.
If you are a website hacker, that number is enough to make you drool all over your keyboard. It’s no wonder so many WordPress websites get attacked. There are so many to hit!
Don’t be fooled: ALL website platforms and ALL web hosting servers have potential security issues. Do you know of any security system that is 100% foolproof? I don’t. The important thing is to do as much as you can to secure your business assets, including your website. It IS possible to create a very strong security system for your WordPress website.
Secondly, most WordPress attacks are due to vulnerabilities in outdated plugins or bad code in the theme – not in WordPress itself.
As you know, there are many ways to expand the functionality of your website with WordPress plugins. There are literally thousands of plugins available, many of them free or quite inexpensive. But not all of them are built well. Additionally, many of them are abandoned by their developers within a year or two.
When security issues come to light, developers need to “patch” their code so hackers cannot break into your website through some bad or outdated code.
Developers of premium or well-maintained WordPress plugins will be on top of security leaks and patch them before any damage is done to your website. Usually, you will need to update them yourself. If you have a maintenance contract (which Lighthouse Marketing offers to all clients), you can rest assured that your plugins will be updated and monitored for conflicts or vulnerabilities they might cause on your website.
Thirdly, there are two very simple steps that WordPress website owners can take to help increase security.
- Keep all computers that log into your website virus free.
If your personal computer is infected and you use it to log into your website, you risk passing along that virus to your web hosting server.
- Choose difficult passwords.
Here’s what the experts at wordpress.org say about choosing a good password:
• Do not use any permutation of your own real name, username, company name, or name of your website.
• Do not use a word from a dictionary, in any language.
• Do not use a short password (8 or more characters is best).
• Do not use any numeric-only or alphabetic-only password (a mixture of both is best).
Paying attention to the fundamentals of WordPress security does not guarantee your website will never be hacked or crash. It will, however, greatly increase the odds of maintaining a stable business presence on the web.
Reason #2: WordPress Makes it Easier to Communicate with Customers and Clients
The days of having a static website that is nothing more than an online brochure are long past. That’s not to say that static information about your business is not an important feature of your website. It just means there is so much more you can do with your website, and choosing WordPress for your small business website will help you get there.
Here are two ways you can use your WordPress website to communicate with customers and clients:
1. Maintain an updated Contact page
Include core information such as your physical address (with directions and Google map), key contact phone numbers, and email addresses.
Your customers will have different preferences for how they contact you, so be sure to provide them with options. Beyond listing your contact information, you can also set up a brief contact form which makes it easy for customers to type out comments or specific questions. You can also collect email addresses via a contact form, but be sure not to abuse that information by sending them unsolicited emails.
2. Blog or News page
There are many benefits to having a blog (see the search engine section below), but providing useful information about your business, your products and services, and your industry will keep your name at the front of customers’ minds and establish you as an authority in your field.
Customers can subscribe to your blog so as soon as you publish a new blog post or news item, they will be notified via email. It is also possible to connect with your social media sites and automatically publish to each of them from your WordPress website.
If you have been avoiding blogging because you think it takes too long or that you’re not a good writer, think again. You don’t need to be a literary genius to blog (take this post as an example!). You just need to write about what you know will be useful to your customers and clients. I have a book on my shelf called If You Can Talk, You Can Write, a great reminder that while good communication does take extra effort, it is within reach for most business owners.
Of course, blogging is not a one-way activity. Customers can reply to your blog posts, giving feedback or joining in on a conversation started by another customer.
But if you really are reluctant or just too busy, consider hiring someone to after it for you. Lighthouse Marketing can incorporate blog posts into a monthly social media or maintenance plan. We can help by taking the pressure off you and keeping your website content fresh.
Reason #3: WordPress Can Help You Sell Products & Services Online
Some of the best e-commerce software solutions available are built as plugins for WordPress. These plugins make it possible to add an online shop to your website, even after your site has been active for a while. These plugins handle many of the basic features needed to help sell directly to customers through an online storefront, whether you are selling physical products or digital products and services.
With a quality e-commerce plugin for WordPress, you can manage inventory, set up various tax and shipping options, and receive payments via popular gateways like PayPal and Stripe (or even cheque and COD). When you log into your WordPress website, you can also track orders, get an overview of your online store’s performance, and create marketing campaigns like coupons, seasonal specials, and discount options.
Setting up and maintaining an online storefront does take extra effort, but it is far easier now than it has ever been, especially since customers are more comfortable purchasing online than even a few years ago.
Reason #4: WordPress Makes it Easier to Be Found Online
We’ve said this before: Google loves WordPress. And since Google is the #1 search engine that people use to find businesses like yours, having a WordPress website for your small business makes it that much easier for them to find you.
One of the reasons WordPress websites rank so high in Google search results is that WordPress websites are constantly refreshed, especially if you blog regularly. The more you write about specific areas in your particular industry, the more Google will see you as an authority and gradually increase your content in their search ranking.
It’s not always possible to get on the first page of Google’s search results, especially if you are in a very competitive field, but the more targeted you are in your writing and the longer your website is active, the greater your chances of landing on that elusive “first page of Google.”
Writing regularly is important, but there are a few other ways that we use to help boost your exposure on the web and increase your chances of being found. If your small business targets a local market, a monthly SEO plan can help you be found when potential customers search for products and services in your industry.
Reason #5: WordPress Connects Your Website with Your Social Media
Customers connect with your business online in various ways, depending on their preferences. Some are content to find information on your website; others will connect via social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.
We encourage our clients to choose social media that best connects with their customers and not worry about maintaining an online presence everywhere. The main social media sites mentioned above might be enough for you or you might only need one or two, depending on your clientele. And depending on your products, you might even consider something like Pinterest.
Whatever your preference, make sure your brand is consistent across each site. Customers should recognize your business whether they visit your website or your Facebook business page.
WordPress plugins play very nicely with social media, allowing you to do things like simple links to your social media sites, automatic posting to all sites, and Facebook and Twitter feeds so anything you post there will show up on your website too.
Keep in mind that linking your website to your social media sites is not only a good way to communicate with customers, it is also a great way to increase the number of external links to your website, which will improve your ranking with search engines like Google.
Reason #6: WordPress Grows with Your Business
As your business grows and you need to add more features to your website, WordPress allows you the flexibility of adding online services without redesigning your entire website. We have already discussed the benefits of plugins and this is one area that WordPress shines for small business websites.
Here are just a few ways you can expand your WordPress business website:
- e-commerce – see above for ways that you can sell products and services directly from your website.
- Forums – allow customers and clients to interact and resolve issues
- Classified Ads – allow customers to buy and sell items through your website
- Calendar of Events – keep customers up to date
- Online registration forms for workshops or events – and accept online payments
- Job Board – for your specific business or offer it as a service to your industry
- Surveys, customer feedback forms – know your customers and their needs
- Custom landing pages for specific marketing campaigns
- FAQ page – answer common questions online, a great pre-sales tool
- Value and Return on Investment
Many people familiar with WordPress will tell you that WordPress makes sense for a small business website because it is very affordable – or even “free.” If you have been in business for a while, you probably know that “free” usually comes with a price. If you don’t pay someone else to do something for you, you have to do it for yourself.
Whenever you do something yourself, you need to consider the value of your time and energy. Will you really save money if you invest two weeks of evenings or a long weekend to build your own website? Do you really have time to look after maintaining the technical side of your website? Or is your time better spent serving your customer base, building your network, and creating new marketing opportunities?
So forget about claims that WordPress is “free” or “affordable.” Start thinking of WordPress as a valuable investment for your business.
Now, it is certainly true that the core WordPress software is free. It is considered “open source” software, which means that it is developed by a large community of programmers and designers. There is no single company that sells the core software.
Additionally, many WordPress plugins are available to install on your WordPress website for no cost whatsoever. There are “premium” plugins which you can either buy or subscribe to annually, and some plugin developers ask for donations, but for the most part, you can access all the WordPress software you need without paying a dime.
The real value of using WordPress for your small business website can be summed up in each of these six reasons.
The Value of WordPress for Your Small Business Website
1. Security – WordPress can help keep your website information secure and functioning seamlessly, providing you keep it well-maintained. Having a stable online presence will save you many hours of lost opportunities.
2. Communication – There are only so many hours in a business day, so providing ways for customers to interact with your business any time of day or night will help generate new customers and keep current customers happy.
3. Online sales – Having an online storefront can increase your monthly sales.
4. Search Engine Optimization – your website will be found much faster if it is a WordPress website, increasing the probability of potential customers finding you before they find your competitors.
5. Social Media – full integration of your WordPress website with all your social media sites.
6. Expandability – WordPress allows you to expand your website as your business grows, saving you the cost of rebuilding your website every year.
These are just a few reasons to choose WordPress for your small business website. If you have specific features you need on your upcoming website and you are wondering if WordPress can handle it, please contact us, or comment below. And if you already use WordPress for your business website, let us know how it has provided value for you.