Top 10 reasons your website still matters

Some web observers have declared the traditional company website irrelevant. They contend that information-seekers are relying on other online sources such as blogs, social networking sites, webinars, RSS feeds, e-newsletters, and articles.

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Indeed, in a few quick keystrokes, audiences can discover a lot about your company without ever seeing your website. But don’t believe all the hype. Customers, partners, investors, analysts, and journalists can learn a lot about your company in other places, but your website still matters.

Here’s why:

Reason 1: Serious prospects will visit your website.

Whether someone has heard about your company in a blog, a review in an online publication, or a reference by someone at LinkedIn, if that person is truly interested, he or she will want to check you out more closely, and that means checking out your website.

Reason 2: A website validates your credibility.

Prospects will judge you by your company’s website. Visitors may have expectations about who you are, and the website confirms or denies those expectations — often in seconds. A well-designed site with plenty of valuable information, including awards and reviews, validates your credibility instantly.

Reason 3: Search engines direct visitors to your website.

A typical visitor follows a predictable path: learns about your company, Googles your company name, and reviews the results. If your site is built with SEO in mind, your home page will be at or near the top of the search results.

Reason 4: The website proves it’s really you.

Often, email recipients will choose not to click on a link until they’ve checked you out to protect themselves against phishing, and that usually means a visit to your website. Visitors often will bypass a landing page URL you’ve provided and instead will use your home page’s URL to vet you. For many visitors, a home page URL is safe and secure — a link from an email or other online source isn’t.

Reason 5: Your website is an important part of your brand.

Your brand is promoted in every piece of communication — from your business card and tradeshow booth to webinars and white papers. Visually and verbally, your brand sets the stage for how others perceive your company. Unless your company is well-established and has a large advertising budget, your website is the most important part of your brand. Is there any other physical or virtual communication that more effectively states who you are and is seen by more people? Not likely. Make sure web design and writing are given the full attention that’s needed to ensure that your brand is well-defined on your home page.

Reason 6: Your website might be your first introduction.

You have only one chance to make a good first impression. A prospect’s first interaction with your company could very well involve a visit to your company’s home page. And if that first introduction is not a positive experience, no amount of communication from your sales force will undo those initial perceptions. Make sure your home page succeeds in clearly and effectively introducing your company and its solutions.

Reason 7: An effective website answers key questions.

A website should provide answers to all the key questions that another online medium might ignore. Who and what drives this company? What business challenges does the company solve? Who are the company’s target audiences? An effective website always has the optimized content to answer these questions, helping interested parties understand whether they should dig for more information.

Reason 8: Most serious prospects like a traditional website.

Many visitors still use traditional online sources of information, the most important of those being the home page of a website. Some customers may never see your LinkedIn bio, your Facebook page, your Twitter profile, or read that killer blog posting, but almost all serious customers eventually will want to visit your website.

Reason 9: The website directs visitors to the information they need.

With a robust, well-designed website, your visitors can find all the information they need with only a few clicks. They understand that the place to start looking for information is the company website, so don’t let them down. Set up a site that ensures that visitors can find the content they seek on your site. That, of course, starts with a well-organized home page with plenty of clues on where to find the content visitors seek. If visitors cannot find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, they’ll give up.

Reason 10: The website is a unified, controlled presentation of your company.

You may have control over some of the online spin concerning your company — pages on social networking sites, campaign landing pages, press releases, etc. — but your website is really the only place where you have complete control of the presentation. You determine the page layout, messaging, and hierarchy of content. You should create and maintain a website with an honest, accurate, and positive view of what you deliver. And be sure to include prominent links off your home page to customer or partner communities, which can provide another level of engaged interaction with site visitors.