How valuable is your website if it doesn’t generate new business for you? Today’s economy makes it more crucial than ever to maximize your business online. Most small business websites contain elements that make a site engaging to both visitors and the search engines (the two audiences you always want to keep in mind). However, there are dozens of mistakes that small business websites should avoid. If you can keep in mind these seven-sins, your web presence will be much more inviting and profitable.
1. Bad Navigation
Ever gone to a website and been overwhelmed with the drop down menus and confusing navigation? Consider your customers when building or recreating your links or navigation. The process of finding anything a customer may need on your website should be no more than one or two clicks away. As a reference, find someone who calls themselves “tech challenged,” then ask them to go to your website and find a few items that would be important to your customer base. If your test dummy can’t find the information, it’s time to simplify the navigation process.
2. Outdated Information
Every month, you should go through each page of your website to make sure that you don’t have any old information. Nothing can make you look less professional than having outdated content on your site. You may also want to have an employee do a run-through as well. Many times you may overlook something that they may catch.
3. Lack of Google Juice
If your small business website doesn’t appear on the first page of Google for the proper search terms, you’ve got a serious lack of Google juice. There are many unscrupulous SEO (search engine optimization) companies that make all types of claims to get you on top of Google. Ignore them. Take care of the basics and you’ll do well. Make sure that you add your business to Google maps (for local search), that you have good content on your pages that include keywords that prospects would use to find you, and that your website has unique titles and descriptions in the HTML for each of your website pages.
4. Too Much Information
Unless you run an e-commerce or news-based website, your online presence is simply a marketing tool that should be presented to further a sales process. That’s why you don’t want to overwhelm your visitors with too much information. Just provide enough so visitors get the basics of what they want to know, so they feel it’s necessary to contact or visit you for more information. If your web pages (and especially your home page) has a word count over 500, it’s time to do some editing. Make sure your copy is written in short paragraphs and bullet points wherever possible.
5. Not Enough Information
A website isn’t a business card. It should be like a brochure on steroids. If you don’t offer enough basic information, the visitor may feel you’re not important enough to visit or call. In addition, you want to have enough copy so that there are enough keywords on your site to be recognized by Google and the search engines. I would shoot for a minimum of 250 words per page. Just remember the points you read in #3 and you’ll find the right balance of information for your customer or prospect.
6. Lack of Social Media
Blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter are a few examples of social media that can build up your website presence. Best of all, they are all free to set up and use. No matter where you share information about your business and website address, it will help extend your brand and name recognition. You don’t have to be a social media maven, but it’s one of the free ways that you can get out the word and drive more consumers to your website, store, and business.
7. No Opt-In Email Marketing
A website that does not include opt-in email marketing is just an online business card (not an online marketing tool). In order to build business with your website, you need to get visitors into a sales funnel. The only way to get prospects into that sales funnel is to persuade them to give you their email address in exchange for something of value – most often, a special report or piece of helpful information. When someone arrives at your physical location/business, wouldn’t it be great if you could find a way to stay in touch with him or her even after they leave? That’s the power of incorporating opt-in email marketing into the online side of your business.