This is no time to be a website weakling. Competition for attention online gets tougher by the day, and having a web presence that works for your business during difficult times is vital. Here at Business.com, we see thousands of small business sites that aim to generate sales or leads online. Take it from our experts, if you expect a business boost from the Internet you can't have a site that's dead in the water.
Here are 10 killer mistakes that small businesses make with their websites, and what you can do to improve your online results:
10. Porky Pages: Cluttered, slow-loading pages that give users headaches just looking at them are the bane of many a small biz website. Avoid garish colors, multiple type fonts and large image files that slow things down.
9. Dorky Design: Yes, design does count...for a lot. But it's not all about how great you are. It's about design that actually works to attract, keep and convert customers. Obvious cookie-cutter sites and over-the-top images undercut your goals. Customers are there because they want to accomplish something quickly, and your design needs to keep that in mind every step of the way.
8. Unborn Updates: Incorrect or outdated info on your website is a certain turnoff. If your latest press release is two 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.
7. Laughably Link-less: If people can't find you online, you're toast. One thing that makes Google (and other search engines) take notice of a website is how many other 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.
6. Vexing Visitors: Vast numbers of websites are just plain frustrating to visitors. They drone on about the company's virtues, force people to hunt for contact basics, and fail to make the ordering process painless. Keep all order and lead-generation forms simple. The more information fields you require, the fewer people you'll get filling them out.
5. Offer-less Ordering: Want people to order? Ya gotta make 'em an offer! Way too many small biz websites forget to include specific offers or a call to action. You could, for example, offer free samples or quotes, a free newsletter, or discounts geared to what your intended visitors need.
4. Crummy Content: Off-target and poorly written content will make your site look second-rate. Provide helpful tips, case studies and other info that helps your intended audience solve a problem or accomplish a task. Avoid industry jargon, and keep it conversational. Proofread carefully to avoid spelling and other errors that can damage credibility. Hiring a freelance writer to create content for your site is a good way to go.
3. Overlooking Obvious: It's surprising how many small biz websites fail to prominently display obvious info, such as your phone number, other contact information, hours and location. Don't make people hunt for a separate "Contact us" page. Display your phone number prominently across your site. If you make it easy for people to call, they will. Be sure you have a process in place to follow-up all inquiries that come through your website, including emails.
2. Missing Measurements: 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 answers to such questions, you aren't leveraging your site's potential. Sign up for a web analytics service such as Stat Counter, or install web analytics software and start monitoring and measuring what's happening on your site.
1. Keyword Clueless: Knowing - and using - the proper keywords for the products and services your business sells is vital to online success. Even if you think you know what they are, unless you've specifically 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 at Google AdWords can help.