In 2017, Clutch reported that 71% of small businesses had a website, up from 54% in 2016. More and more small businesses are realizing the positive impact having a website can have on their organizations. However, as technology has advanced and consumer behaviors changed, simply having a website with basic information is no longer enough. Small businesses need to make sure that necessary updates are taking place regularly to fit changing trends and standards.

So how exactly are small businesses planning to improve their websites this year? According to a recent survey of 351 small business owners from The Manifest, over 90% plan to invest in improving their website in some capacity in 2018. The top priority is high-quality content (22%), followed by security (17%), user experience (16%) and SEO (13%). The survey also noted that the top resource for small business website maintenance is in-house staff (52%).

An SMB’s website is arguably its most important asset because it tells the business’s story and highlights its most important components. High-quality content is an integral part of this. Great content provides SMBs with two important benefits: SEO, which can ultimately increase an SMB’s chance of being found in organic search results, and thus lead to increased sales, and it also provides significant engagement with customers by educating them and building trust. There are several options for SMBs looking to create high-quality content, including videos, blogs, case studies, whitepapers and more.

Due to their lack of resources, many small businesses are extremely susceptible to data breaches and other security threats. Such threats can cause substantial financial harm on your business. According to 2017 Ponemon Cost of Data Breach Study, the average total cost of a data breach is $3.62 million, and one in four small businesses will experience a breach. Hackers will never stop trying to infiltrate small businesses, so it’s wise for owners to invest in better security measures and stay updated on relevant threats.

Small businesses looking to improve user experiences for customers navigating through their website should be sure to keep the user’s needs in mind when making changes. Testing various individual changes and monitoring how they affect conversion rates can help determine what modifications work best for each unique business.

Improving SEO techniques is also important for small businesses in 2018. The better optimized your content is, the more traffic your website will receive. Conducting keyword research is a great start to determine the content topics that are most beneficial to you. Pages packed with high-quality content and relevant keywords will increase that page’s chances of popping up in first page search results.

BrightLocal says that 41% of consumers prefer to contact a local business on the phone after viewing a website. So, it’s very likely that your website will be the first piece of branding that a consumer sees. It’s important to make a great first impression with consumers and having a content-rich website that helps guide and inform them on their purchase journey can do just that.

Your website is a platform for telling your story and it also provides legitimacy to consumers that you’re a reputable company. Keeping it up to date and packed with high-quality content can provide many benefits for your business, such as more web traffic, and increased visibility among your target audience.

Consumers are utilizing digital platforms along their purchase journeys more than ever before. In fact, a Local Search Association survey revealed the top two channels consumers turn to when they are ready to purchase are company websites (25%) and search engines (23%).

As websites trends continue evolving and subsequently altering consumer’s purchasing journeys, small businesses looking to succeed in 2018 and beyond should put considerable effort into performing regular website updates.

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