We see a lot of small business websites in our line of work and while we occasionally stumble across some really amazing sites, the vast majority are pretty average or really very bad.
It’s not that small businesses intentionally set out to create poor websites, but that is what tends to happen when a business takes the DIY route with out-of-the-box website builders in a hasty bid to get an online presence. This ‘build it and they will come’ approach along with a general lack of web knowledge and skills, can often result in a poorly thought out and badly built website – which has a negative impact on a brand’s reputation.
Here, we list the most common pitfalls that small businesses fall into when trying to take care of their website themselves, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes:
1) Slapdash content strategy
Few small businesses ever start out with a plan of what to publish on their website. Instead, it’s all too tempting to do a quick scan of the competition and then copy what they say in your own words. Content is often written by the business owner and published with little, if any, attention to detail. Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes will only make customers question your authenticity and professionalism.
2) Confused or missing marketing messages
Confusing marketing messages – or too much industry jargon – is a major fault on many small business websites. Homepages are often overloaded with too much information about a company’s service offering, which can leave visitors overwhelmed and too confused to bother hanging around. Your marketing messages should address the questions that best answer your customers’ needs and should be written in phrases customers are looking for, in language they understand.
3) Dead ends and no calls to action
At the end of each web page, you should include a clear and relevant action directing visitors to the next place your business wishes them to go. This is whether that action is reading more, browsing a similar product or service, or getting in touch. If there’s no call to action on the page, it becomes a dead end, allowing the visitor to back away, leave the site, and forget about your business.
4) Lack of personality
People always prefer to deal with people, so it’s important to take any opportunity to include imagery of real people within the business where you can. It could be as simple as team member head shots, an image of your office or store, or a photo of a happy customer; this will be more useful to your business website than no images at all or clichéd stock images (see pitfall No.6).
5) Poor design
With so many web-builder sites and open source platforms, or friends who ‘know a guy’, it is no wonder a lot of businesses choose to build their own websites. The problem with this route is that it often shows. No brand logos, inconsistent branding and poorly formatted images can show a lack of professional application to the website, which, in turn, gives visitors the impression that there is a lack of professionalism and knowledge in the business.
6) Clichéd stock images
Stock images are by no means the worst thing to happen to small business websites. Images that illustrate a service, the customer experience, or an aspirational offer are all great ways to communicate a concept visually, and stock image libraries have plenty of images that can do this. Unfortunately, they also have many dull, formulaic and tired images that we have all seen a million times before.
7) No metrics
Do you know how many people are coming to your site? What information is the most popular or engaging to customers’? It’s essential that you understand your customers actions so you can decide what area of the business to invest into for growth. If you have metrics on your site then you can track and analyse this data to get clear insights. Without it, you’re simply putting all of your time and effort into guesswork.
8) Not optimised for mobile
Today, more people than ever before are accessing the web on mobile devices rather than desktops or laptops, yet over 50% of small business websites do not have a mobile friendly website. Google made mobile optimisation a priority in 2015, so as well as missing out on the the chance to engage with mobile visitors, if you’re not mobile optimised Google will push your business down in the search results rankings.
9) Rarely updating your content
Websites with good quality fresh content rank higher on search engines. Simple fact. Small business owners often find it hard to schedule this activity into their regular weekly routine. In addition, for many people, the administration of a change, edit or update is a laborious task. If your website is to cumbersome to update, or even worse, has to be updated by the developer, it’s probably built on a dated system and not search-friendly.
Given these points, you can hopefully see how important it is for small businesses to get their websites right. If you run a small business and are concerned that your website isn’t giving you the support your business needs, please get in touch with us.
We’re always happy to chat about your concerns and help with affordable solutions to improving your online profile.