Putting a website up for the first time or getting a redesign can be really exciting. It’s a fresh start, a way to meet the masses that might become your potential customers one day.
In the modern day and age, getting a website up is standard practice for anyone hoping to run a functioning business. It’s not something that can be avoided. Unfortunately, this widespread need often leads to underdeveloped or ill-suited sites that don’t help your business as much as they could…we see this happen way too often. Want to avoid this fate? Steer clear of the following mistakes and start making decisions that are going to improve your website.
1. Too Few Pages
These days, it’s not enough simply to have Home, About and Contact pages. It’s better to have more than that, to go deeper. This is not to say that you should intentionally build lots of pages to manipulate the search engines into thinking you have more content, better content or more local content (this content is known as a “doorway page,” and does nothing for you SEO-wise). In other words, more pages does not automatically equal better SEO.
However, more pages are frequently better for the user. That’s because the more specific places there are on your site that answer specific questions, the easier time the user will have finding what they need. If you sell products or have terms of sale that require explanation, have an FAQ page. Are you a life coach or nutritionist? Testimonials are invaluable. Offer lots of services? You should have a whole page devoted to them.
These days, SEO is all about user friendliness. If visitors can find what they need and get their questions answered quickly, they will trust you. This will help you build a base and increase traffic, which at the end of the day earns you sales and bumps you up in the rankings, especially when combined with targeted, professional SEO efforts.
2. Poor Navigation
Navigation matters in several ways, and yours has got to be great. For one thing, poor navigation equals bad SEO. If your internal linking structure isn’t clear, the web bots will punish you for it. Therefore every page should have an easy way to get back to the main page and the other major site pages. Every page needs to be linked to by at least one other page on the site. “Orphan” pages that aren’t linked from anywhere else on the site don’t get found, go “cold” and hurt your SEO.
Similarly, dead-end pages, where you link to them but it isn’t clear to users where they should go or what they should do from there aren’t helpful either. Avoid both orphans and dead-ends with a quality navigation bar that is obvious from every page of the site, and by linking to every page at least once.
Beyond keeping your SEO sound, good navigation does a lot for you, including:
- Gets customers to important pages
- Answers their questions
- Helps them get back to the main page or backtrack easily
- Makes contact information obvious
- Helps them find products and services, and therefore makes them more likely to buy!
3. Hiring Web Designers for Graphic Design
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to hire a web designer for graphic design work. Sure, some firms do both and do them well. But you should never assume a web designer automatically excels at graphic arts; knowing code is not the same as knowing good design.
People are drawn to streamlined color schemes (blue and green being the most popular) as well as simple, elegant and eye-catching logos and icons. If they hate the way a website looks, they’ll often leave. Moreover, your branding will appear well outside your website: on business cards, storefronts, flyers, conference booths, bags and even merchandise. It behooves you to make sure your design is excellent not only for the sake of your site, but for the sake of your business image as a whole.
4. Forgetting Mobile
In April of 2015, Google made it clear: Mobile is not an option; it’s a must. All websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will be penalized in mobile search. Not only that, but considering how much time users spend on mobile these days – 51 percent of digital time devoted to mobile as of 2015 – it’s shortsighted indeed to neglect your mobile presence.
Before hiring a web designer, do a thorough vetting to make sure they’re proficient at building responsive sites – or, better yet, leave that to us. Keep in mind that this is not the same as adaptive. While responsive will fit any size screen, adaptive comes with a finite number of presets that don’t respond once loaded. Where possible, find a designer who’s adept at responsive design so that no matter what device your customers use, you can reach them.
5. Crummy Social Links
Although there is much debate about whether or not strongly developed and integrated social media profiles influence your SEO, there is no debate about what crummy social links do: nothing. Possibly worse than nothing, because linking to dead or underdeveloped social media profiles just makes you look bad, like you don’t care, are absent or can’t make it happen.
This is not the message you want to send to your clients, customers and prospects. If they come to your profile and don’t see much, they may not go back to your site, which will negatively impact its SEO by resulting in lower traffic. Besides, strong social media platforms are their own argument; they bring in prospects, help you take the pulse of the market, and create lasting ties between you and your customer base.
Too often, a website feels like a chore you have to simply check off in order to move on to the next stage of your business. If you don’t take it seriously, however, it won’t do much for you. Therefore we advise doing all you can to avoid these mistakes, and putting in the time and energy required to build a beautiful site that will help you engage with the people that matter most.
Where do you go from here?
Website creation, design and maintenance can be a confusing process, especially for businesses who’ve always done it one way but are ready to make a change. That’s why we are here. We believe that they’re part of the bigger picture, part of a brand development effort that goes way beyond how people find you online. If you’re ready to jump in and to make serious changes to benefit your business, contact us today.