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I am often asked if a website will be successful commercially and I cannot always answer this because after the site is built I seldom have any control over what happens to it.
So is a website worth what you pay to have it built?
What I tell my enquirers is that a basic online brochure website often costs about the same as your annual entry to Yellow Pages. The difference is that your website can be there forever more after it is launched so it is almost always worth having.
If you are running a business nowadays the lack of a website is often taken to mean that your business is not keeping up with the times.
Quite simply people expect you to have a website.
Web sites that are properly optimised to be found on the search engines are great long term investments.
They require minimal maintenance and they can work for you 24/7/365 without as much as a coffee break! The main reason that websites and the Internet are great ways to promote a business is that they generate targeted traffic.
Let's say that you are selling hand made jewellery. The main way that people will find their way to your site will be by searching with a search engine like Google or perhaps from an online jewellery directory (targeted traffic). Someone looking for "hand made jewellery" may type this into the Google search box.
If your site is listed prominently amongst the results then you are clearly in with a great chance of making a sale (highly targeted traffic).
This compares to the situation where you open a jewellery shop in the high street. It is obvious that most of the people who shop in the high street are not in the market for jewellery. A few of them may be but this is not targeted traffic.
Similarly, an advert for your jewellery in a newspaper may catch someone's eye but only if they are interested in hand made jewellery and obviously this would include only a very small percentage of all newspaper readers.
The Internet is becoming many people's first port of call when they are looking for goods or services. Even when they are looking for offline services such as lawyers, consultants or training services they will look on the Internet first.
This is because it is quicker and more convenient to do so and when they find the relevant company's website they will find out much more about them than they would in yellow pages.
Many businesses now list their web addresses in their Yellow Page entry. They know that even if they are found on Yellow Pages their websites give them the opportunity to tell prospective customers a lot more (and it's often much cheaper!)