With over 81% of people researching companies on the internet before making a purchasing decision, it is no longer a viable option to not have a website – regardless of how small your company is. But while having no website can mean missed opportunities, a bad website can be even worse. We take a look at some of the biggest mistakes your small business could be making with its website.
1. Not updating your content
Besides the fact that Google gives higher rankings to websites that are regularly updated, it also helps to draw more people to your website if you are consistently uploading high quality, relevant content.
Remember that people come to your website to find useful information that will help them make a buying decision. This means that, at the very least, your website should have updated information about products, services and pricing. If your content has not been updated in a while, people may assume that you are no longer in business. Or worse, they may get the impression that you simply do not care enough to keep your site interesting and informative.
In addition, search engines may view static websites without any updates as ‘dead’ entities, whereas fresh content gives search engines more opportunities to search for relevant information.
The easiest way to keep your content fresh and interesting is through regular blogging. Research by Adobe has shown that websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages than those who don’t. Every time you create an article, a new page is added to your website. This means more opportunities to be found online.
Other areas you should periodically check are product information or service details; your FAQ section; contact details and team member information.
2. Everything and the kitchen sink
Don’t be tempted to overstuff your website with every single product, client or project you have ever done. This can make your website slow, confusing and difficult to navigate.
Rather focus on the most relevant and recent content. The purpose of your website is to provide people with the necessary information to make an informed decision. They do not need to see every single project you have ever worked on or see your entire client list to do that.
If you have a variety of services and products, group them together logically. If you have done work for clients across various industries, choose one or two representative companies in each that you have worked with and highlight them.
Before deciding what content to have on your website, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Does this information solve my customer’s problem?
- Does this information match my customer’s expectation?
- Is the information current and updated?
- Does my customer have to know this information in order to make a buying decision?
- Can my customers easily find information they are looking for?
If you answer no to any of these questions, perhaps reconsider if it is necessary to include it in your website.
3. Not researching your target market
Your website should be designed around your target market’s preferences. If your client base is corporate leaders, then having a hip, trendy design may not be the best option. If your customers are youngsters, you should probably focus more on mobile compatibility. Whoever your target market is, make sure that you design your website with them in mind.
Rather than rush to get an online presence, take the time to consider who would be most likely to use your products or services. Take into consideration such characteristics as age, location, marital status, lifestyle, buying power, buying habits, etc.
Knowing your target market makes it easier to know what type of content they would find useful and what would attract them to visit your site, stay on it and make a purchase or call your office.
4. Not tracking your performance
The adage of ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ is certainly true of websites.
You need to know if your website is reaching the right audiences, if they find your content interesting, if that email or social media campaign you’ve been running is bringing in visitors and whether those visitors are converting into customers.
There are a number of paid and free options to track your website data – the most popular of which is Google Analytics (which is free). Before you start setting up your analytics software, make sure that you have set clear and realistic goals for your website. Once you are set up, pull weekly reports to see how you’re faring against those goals. If you find something is not working, change one thing at a time to identify specific problem areas.
5. Not optimising your site for SEO
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of optimising your website to improve its search engine rankings. SEO helps search engines figure out what your website pages are about and whether it is relevant to the person doing a search.
Not focusing on SEO reduces your chances of getting found online and for your website to get valuable organic traffic. This is the traffic that comes to your website from unpaid sources from search engines and tends to generate more revenue than paid traffic.
There are a few resources that help you check your SEO, such as SEMRush or SEO Site Checkup. These will all give you a good indication of what to look out for when optimising your site, but at the very least you should have a site map, meta and site descriptions and your title tags and headline titles should be filled out appropriately.
If you can afford it, do consider investing in a professional SEO company. There are frequent updates and changes to how search engines rank websites and they will be able to help ensure that your website stays on top of it.
6. Making the design too complicated
When designing your website, focus on making it user-friendly. Don’t be tempted to try and impress your customers with an over-complicated, flashy design.
Keep your design clean and simple with clear navigation and easy-to-find information.
Avoid flash images. They may look fancy on desktop, but not so much on mobile. A lot of mobile phones also do not play flash images, so all your hard work would be for nothing.
Also avoid annoying pop-ups, multimedia that auto plays, pages that take too long to download, confusing animations and excessive advertising.
You only have a few seconds to get your visitors’ attention and to keep them on your website, so make sure that it is clear what your business does and what you want your visitors to do next.
7. Not having a mobile friendly site
More and more people are using mobile devices to access websites. Research has shown that more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in ten countries and 51% or smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphone.
Mobile usage has grown so much that Google updated its mobile algorithm in 2015 that penalises websites that are not mobile-friendly. As of May 2016, it also strengthens the ranking signal from mobile-friendly websites.
When designing your website, make sure that it adjusts to the different screen sizes and that all buttons, links, images and texts display correctly and are clickable on various mobile devices.
8. Not having a clear CTA
A Call-to-action (CTA) is an image, button or line of text that asks a visitor to take a certain action, such as downloading an ebook, subscribing to a newsletter, buying a product or contacting your company.
If you have planned your website well, you should know what you want your visitors to do once they have landed on your website. The CTA tells them what that is. The main goal of your CTA is to move your visitors further down the sales funnel.
Just ensure that that your call-to-action delivers what it promises. Don’t promise a free ebook and then only deliver if they spend money first.
9. Not checking your site load speed
A KISSmetrics report revealed that 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less and 40% will leave a website that takes more than three seconds to load. A website that takes forever to download only serves to frustrate visitors to your site, especially if they access it through their mobile phones.
You can check your site speed loading times using GT Metrix or Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Both these sites will also give you tips on how to improve your site speed, but some of the main culprits normally include image sizes, embedded videos, poor server performance, code density and too many third-party plugins or components.
Some of the actions you can take to reduce your site loading speed is to choose suitable hosting, leverage browser caching, enabling gzip compression and optimising images. Check back periodically, especially after making changes or updates to your website.
10. Relying too heavily on stock photography
Images are a great way to enhance your content, but be careful of overlying on stock photography. These are generic photographs that you can purchase from online stores. Some may be good, but there are those that are simply ridiculous. And they stand out like a sore thumb.
Rather invest in getting real photographs of your customers, employees, products and business premises or design your own visuals.
If you find that your website has a high bounce rate (people leaving the site without exploring other pages) or you’re just not getting any referrals from your site, then consider whether you may be making any of these mistakes.
What else annoys you about websites? Let us know in the comments section.
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