Let’s start with some of the common and BIG website mistakes I see business owners make. These are the mistakes that will cost you money and limit or keep your sales results down.
1. Building Your Website in Flash – Flash programming is truly enticing for the beautiful, smooth, cinematic effect it can create. The downside is that it’s invisible to search engines and doesn’t work on many mobile phones (and can be difficult to use even on devices that can display Flash).
No small business should use Flash programming to build their website as no one will be able to find your site via search.
2. No Calls to Action – There should be something for visitors to DO on every page if they want to take the next step. Many small business websites overlook the importance of including a clear call to action. It could be as simple as calling you for a quote or downloading a relevant white paper. Even when I explain this to clients, it’s such an unfamiliar idea that most small business owners aren’t receptive. See Lockwood Electric with it’s Request a Quote button.
3. No Keep in Touch Buttons – Prospects usually need to be exposed to your brand seven times before they buy from you. Therefore it’s important to start a relationship with people who visit your site. Have an email newsletter people can sign up for if they want to keep in touch.
Consider using Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google + and Twitter. Talk to your marketing person about which of these are a good fit for your industry. I recommend the email newsletter to nearly all businesses. Check out this recent article of mine on placement of social media / blog icons.
4. Not Using Keywords – Business people have become increasingly savvy about keywords and tell me using keywords on their site is important to them. I consider using keywords the major foundational step to make your site findable on Google.
Just to be clear, by “using keywords” here, I’m not talking about using the actual “keyword” html tag, but locating the important words or phrases your potential customers are likely to search for, and being sure those appear in important places throughout your site. If you want to know more, look at this previous post on Search Engine Optimization or SEO for Short.
5. No Links from other Websites – This important strategy scares business owners. One of the most significant ways that Google measures the value of your site is by the number of other sites linking to it.
At the very least, be sure to get a few inbound links for your website like those from organizations you work with and people you refer business to. (Stay away from those services that offers 100 links for $99 as those links are spammy and not beneficial.)
6. Over Investing in Your Website – I think the cause of over investing in the website is perfectionism and business anxiety. By over investing, I mean spending more than two to four months getting your website up or over investing money in the site that you most likely need for other aspects of your business.
Let’s look at perfectionism first. Websites are always works in progress – so it’s more important to get it up so it can start working for your business. Perfectionism is a delay tactic.
The same about over investing money on a website. If you are in a design profession you do need an amazing site design. Other businesses need a polished website with good design. For nearly all businesses, content is actually the most important aspect of the website. Be sure to have money for search engine optimization and good content on the site.
7. Under Investing in Your Website – This message is for the folks who run a successful business but are using an out-dated or unprofessional looking website. Successful businesses hamper their growth when they go without or keep on with a site that looks lame, has weak content or isn’t optimized.
You can say all your business comes from word of mouth but these days most prospects are looking at your website to assess you before they call you. So transform an out-of -date site that is hurting your marketing.
8. No White Lettering on a Dark Background – Black sites can be slick and compelling but be sure to use a light background color and dark lettering for the content. Otherwise, you site can be hard to read and people may be going away without reading.
9. Skimpy Copy & Too Lengthy Copy – This relates to what I said earlier about content being the most significant aspect of a website. You want to use your website to attract the right clients to you. Answering peoples’ questions about your service and product shows you care and understand them.
Too lengthy copy looks like your thinking is sloppy — it can also scare people away. You want to show you can be concise and to the point but at the same time paint a complete picture. If you are unsure, hire a web copywriter to help you.
10. No Testimonials – Testimonials help people cement their buying decisions and also can say things you can’t say about yourself. I recommend them for all businesses but especially service businesses where so much of what you are selling is the experience of working with you. Some businesses just attract testimonials, others need to ask for them. Again, ask for them or have a marketing consultant or staff person ask for the company.
That’s 10 for you! Your company or organizational website is your key marketing tool. Make a point to seek out a marketing savvy web person who can help you implement these ideas on your website for better marketing results.
Karen Nierlich is an internet marketing consultant and Principal at Full Orbit Web and Marketing. The firm specializes in helping small and medium businesses thrive on the internet. Call 510-527-9920 for assistance with web development, web design and internet traffic building.