Top Website Mistakes
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Top Website Mistakes

Q: I am tasked with redoing our company website. I am planning on using a free or low-cost service and then customizing the template. My question is what do other small businesses do right and wrong when creating a business website – that is, are there things I should add or be on the lookout for?

Sara

A: Someone recently told me that he considers a company’s website to be so important, and so fundamental, that it is the “the business card of the 21st century.”

Close, but no cigar.

I think my associate understates it. Yes, like a business card, your website the first thing people often see when encountering your business, but it also has become a major factor in whether people even choose to do business with you. No business card can claim that. So your site has to be great.

Here then are the 7 Deadly Small Business Website Mistakes that you must avoid:

1. The site confuses the Web for a billboard: Every now and then you will run across a small business website that gets it: It is graphically appealing, it contains valuable, unique content, and it engages the visitor. It is a sales tool, meet-and-greet, advertisement, brochure, and conduit all in one.

But most small business websites do not do that. Instead, they are simply an online version of a billboard or other sort of basic ad: A big headline with some back-up information and not much more.

Mistake.

The days when you could simply throw up an e-version of your Yellow Page ad are long over. Yellow Page ads are great because they serve a specific purpose, and do it very well – namely, to get the phone to ring. But the purpose of your website goes beyond that. Sure, a great small business website will cause the phone to ring (or the email to be sent) but they should also create a positive, lasting impression.

To do that, the site has to engage, not just be.

2. The site lacks a great “About” page: Since your website is your virtual version of your store or office, it must serve that function well, and you do that by having a robust “About Us” page.

The About page tells people who you are, what you are about, and why they should trust you. It is one of the most clicked pages on any website. People want to know who you are, your history and story, and so a well-written, jargon-free, interesting About page is essential. Putting a short video there (see below) may even be better.

Your About page is your online version of a firm handshake and a look in the eye. It helps people to trust you.

3. The site contains mistakes: Dead links, 404 Error pages, and typos are the sort of sloppy errors that can turn a prospective client off. After all, if your site contains mistakes, what does that say about the sort of work you may do for the client?

4. The site lacks ways to further connect online: Does your site have a blog and can people get to it within one click from your homepage? They should be able to. Can site visitors surf over to your Facebook page from your site? Can people easily follow you on Twitter, or link with you on LinkedIn, by clicking links on your site?

5. The site is not SEO friendly: People should be able to find your site in a variety of ways:

  • From seeing your URL in your ads, business card, or store
  • By finding you via forums, articles you have written, or social media sites
  • From online ads if you use those,
  • And, probably most importantly, by locating you in a search engine result

That last one comes from, of course, search engine optimization (SEO.) A SEO friendly site is one where there is plenty of content (updated regularly), where the content is full of key words and phrases, and where there are plenty of incoming links.

6. The site lacks video: This is the YouTube age. People like and watch video online. Use that. Your site visitors will click on the videos you post, so put up how-to videos, or videos that introduce your staff or business, or product demonstrations – just as long as you have some video.

7. The site’s pages lack a call to action: What do you want people to do on your site – buy something, call you, apply, opt-in, download, email, or what? Whatever the answer, you have to encourage them to do it. Go on your site and notice how many of your pages lack a call to action. Fix it.

Today’s Tip: Don’t guess when choosing your keywords. Good tracking tools include Google’s keyword tool, Wordtracker, and Keyword Discovery.

© 2010 Steven D. Strauss, www.MrAllBiz.com