Third annual Small Business Survey from Clutch finds that small businesses often struggle to create and maintain a website
The survey found that 31% of small businesses choose to use social media profiles rather than a dedicated website to cultivate a web presence. Others (23%) cite a lack of industry relevance as the primary reason for not having a website.
However, experts stress that a website is not only beneficial in every industry but also necessary. In the digital era, Internet searches are increasingly replacing cold calls and other non-digital lead generation. Without a web presence, it is difficult to compete for the Millennial and Gen-Z market.
“In the old days, it was mainly entrepreneurs that were coming to the Internet. Now, more traditional businesses – brick and mortars – are saying ‘We should get this figured out. Everybody else is on the Internet. I guess we need to be too.’ A lot of it is an education process and crossing the digital divide.”
Alan Dale, CEO, Los Angeles Web Design, a boutique Internet business development agency specializing in web design
The Clutch survey also reveals that location is indicative of whether a small business has a website. Only 58% of Midwestern small businesses have a website compared to the South (72%), the Northeast (73%), and the West (77%).
Experts interviewed about the survey findings attribute the lack of small business websites in the Midwest to a common perception many industries in the Midwest have toward the Internet: they tend to view websites as a waste of time, since traditionally, their leads come from word-of-mouth referrals. In addition, the Midwest has traditionally been slow to cultivate a culture of tech startups similar to Silicon Valley in California.
Those small businesses that do build websites place an emphasis on mobility and search engine optimization (SEO). Nearly 80% of small business websites are now mobile friendly, one of Google’s major requirements for websites attempting to rank highly in their search algorithm.
The survey included 355 small business owners/managers across the United States. Respondents answered questions regarding their experience with website ownership as a part of the 2017 Small Business Digital Marketing Survey. 40% of respondents’ companies have 10 or fewer employees; 27% have 11–50 employees; 25% have 51–250 employees; and 8% have 251–500 employees. 50% have an annual revenue under $1 million.