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10 Things Wrong With Your Website

In this age of social media and digital everything, you can’t afford to be a website weakling. If your competition has a killer online presence, and you don’t, you lose. Today’s consumers look online more than ever before.  Even business owners who think they don’t really need a “best in class” website are missing more than they think.  Based on visiting thousands of small business websites, BizBest compiled this list of 10 common mistakes that businesses make with their websites, and how to fix them:

1. Crummy Content

Thanks to the rise of social media and changes in how search engines operate, it’s now more important than ever to have high-quality content on your site. Off-topic and poorly written content won’t show up in search and makes your site look second-rate. Don’t load up on sales pitches. Instead, provide helpful tips, case studies and other info that gives customers and prospects valuable information on how to solve a problem or accomplish a task.  Avoid industry jargon and keep it conversational. A service such as HubSpot.com can help.

2. Keyword Clueless

Knowing — and using — the proper keywords for the products and services your business sells is important to online success. Even if you think you know what they are, unless you’ve used a keyword discovery tool to see the precise terms that real people are typing into search engines daily, you haven’t done it right.  KeywordDiscovery.com and the keyword tool in Google AdWords can help.

3. Social Scarcity

No website is complete today without some nod to social media.  At a bare minimum that should be a link to your Facebook page, but could and should also include Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and your own blog.

4. Muddy Metrics

Who’s visiting your website? Where are they coming from? What are they doing once they get there? What are the most and least popular portions of your site? What kinds of visitors are making you the most money? If you lack the answers, you’re flying blind. Sign up for a web metrics service such as Google Analytics to get a grip on what’s happening.

5. Missing Mobile

Mobile web usage is exploding, with huge  implications for small businesses that lack a mobile-friendly site. Mobile sites are designed specifically for the small screen. They are quick, easy to navigate and “thumb friendly,” which means they use large, centered buttons with “breathing room” to prevent accidental clicks. The best mobile-friendly  sites make the mobile experience local. Since customers are constantly seeking local information on their phones, your mobile site should make it quick and easy for people to find you. Google has a terrific program called GoMo (www.HowToGoMo.com) to help business owners and startups learn about mobile websites and find help setting one up. You’ll find tips, a tool to rate the quality of an existing mobile site, samples of good mobile site design, and a helpful list of vendors who can help you create a mobile presence.

6. Obvious Omissions

It’s stunning how many websites lack obvious info such as contact information, hours and location, or seemingly try to hide it. Don’t make people hunt for a “Contact Us” page. Display your preferred means of contact prominently across your site. If you make it easy for people to call or email, they will. Be sure you have a process in place to follow up all inquiries.

7. Offer-less Ordering

If you want people to sign up, order or otherwise engage, you need to encourage it with some type of offer or call to action. You could, for example, offer free trials, discounts or a newsletter. Tell people what you want them to do.

8. Dorky Design

Design counts. But it’s not all about looking pretty. It’s about creating a great user experience and being highly functional and effective at attracting, keeping and converting customers. Obvious cookie-cutter sites and over-the-top images undercut your goals. Customers are there because they want to accomplish something, and your design needs to reflect that. Keep all order and lead-generation forms simple. The more information you require, the fewer people you’ll get filling them out.

9. Laughably Link-less

If people can’t find you online, you’re toast. One thing that makes Google (and other search engines) take notice is how many quality sites link to yours. Other sites are more likely to link to yours if you offer helpful information such as tips, white papers, newsletters, a blog or other items. Sending out regular press releases on your business is one way to build links. You can also seek links from professional associations, clients and vendors.

10. Unborn Updates

Incorrect or outdated info on your website spells certain doom. If your latest press release is three years old or other content is clearly aging, customers will wonder how up-to-date and vibrant your business really is. Review and update all content on your site regularly to keep it fresh and timely.

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.  Follow @140Main

Five Website Landing Page Mistakes and Fixes

 If you have a website and expect it to help, not hinder your business, you’ll want to avoid the major mistakes that many small businesses make.  Focus on your  “landing pages” in particular.  A landing page, quite literally, is the page on your site where the incoming visitor “lands” as determined by the link they clicked, from an ad, article, directory listing of some other place.

For most small businesses, the landing page is typically the homepage, but that might not be a good idea. The best landing pages are specifically meant to convert the visitor into a paying customer and home pages aren’t typically set up for this.

The landing page is the first glimpse that a customer or prospect might get of how your business looks online, so you’ll want it to leave a good impression.  Here are some typical landing page mistakes and how to fix them: 

Mistake #1: Lousy Links: Do links into your site target specific, relevant pages? Don’t aim every link to your homepage. Instead, create links that bring prospects to the place on your site that will help them the most, such as a product page, contact information or quote request. Don’t think that by merely directing traffic to any page on your website, visitors will take the time to search further for the information they want, or to place an order.

Mistake #2: Crummy Content: How much information have you provided on your pages? How have you titled you pages and named products? To improve chances of showing up in search engines, include “title tags” on your pages that use the terms or titles most commonly searched for. Include as much useful information as you can, including prices or fees.

Incorrect or outdated information is a turnoff, and off-target or poorly written content will make your site look second-rate. Review and update content regularly to keep it fresh. Provide tips, case studies and other information that helps your intended audience solve a problem or accomplish a task.  Avoid industry jargon, and keep it conversational. Proofread carefully.

Mistake #3: Missing Calls to Action: Don’t make visitors scroll down the page to find what they need. Include the most important items on the top portion of the page immediately visible in a browser window (called “above the fold”). Your landing page should call for one specific action. If you want people to order, make them an offer, such as free samples or quotes, a free newsletter, or discounts geared to what they need. Create clear links to the order page.

Mistake #4: Unwelcoming Aesthetics: Imagine stepping into a store filled with poorly organized, untidy shelves and unreadable signage, says Jason Hennessey, an SEO specialist with Everspark Interactive.  Chances are you will leave. The same thing could apply to your website and the overall look and feel of your landing page. As with a bricks and mortar store, you want to enhance your visitors’ experience and instantly make them feel that they have come to a business that is credible and trustworthy.

Mistake #5: Dismal Design: Don’t cram all available space on your website with ads, flash graphics or irrelevant information. That can be both confusing and a big contributor to poor landing page performance.  Keep your site design and landing pages clean and uncluttered, especially when you want a particular call to action. Avoid garish colors, multiple type fonts and large image files that slow things down.

Customers are there because they want to accomplish something quickly, and your design needs to keep that in mind every step of the way. Too many small business websites are frustrating to visitors. They force people to hunt for contact basics, have irrelevant information and fail to make the ordering process easy. Keep order and lead-generation forms simple and user friendly. The more information fields you require, the fewer people you’ll get filling them out.  

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.