There are many different opinions about whether a small business needs to have a website or if a social media presence is enough. While these tools are a great place to start, a website is what I would say is the ultimate “linchpin” for your business being found online.

Below are 4 reasons to establish a website:

Branding and Awareness

Provides a place that you can build your brand, create your businesses personality and Engage with your consumers. Your website is another sales tool that can be leveraged as a digital storefront and ecommerce portal.

Establishes credibility

Reinforces that your business is legitimate and trustworthy. In a recent study by Weber Shandwick, “it doesn’t matter how great your product is – if people don’t trust you, they won’t be interested in it.”

Provides Resources

Provides a place you can provide content for your consumers to take, print and share with others.

Build your Community

Engage with your consumers by giving them the ability to join your mailing list for news and updates. Email outreach is another traditional, and highly effective tactic is customer retention, acquisition and building awareness. Introduce your team and add a personal flare to your business.

There should not be a question as to whether or not small business should have a website – it is should be more about when. In a study by the Kelsey Group– 97% of consumers use the Internet to research products or services in their local area. Of that 97% , 90% use search engines, 48% use Internet Yellow Pages. 42% use comparison shopping sites and 24% use vertical sites.

Predictions for 2012 show that there will be upwards of 154.6 million online shoppers which is a 4.4% from 2011 and 88.1% of the total US population using the internet will browse or research products online.

Basically, if you don’t have a website, you are missing a huge opportunity to put your business on the map. Your consumers are looking for you and you want to be found.