One in every two businesses don’t have their own website. If you’re one of those businesses that does have a site, you might be thinking this gives a considerable edge on the competition. Think again.
It isn’t enough to just have a website. To see the maximum benefit of an internet presence, your site has to work well, both technically and conceptually.
From web hosting to search engine ignorance, here are five major website mistakes every business should avoid.
Failing to Include eCommerce
It is not uncommon for brick-and-mortar shops to have a website. However, it is uncommon for those in the SME bracket to include eCommerce on their site. Instead, these websites often serve as a signpost pointing towards the physical location, with contact details, messages, opening times and more consumer information.
While this is valuable and useful, failing to also include eCommerce on the site is a major mistake. 95% of people buy goods online, creating a £100 billion industry. Many people choose to shop online for ease of use and convenience, meaning a large volume of sales made online wouldn’t be carried out if they had to physically enter your shop. If you aren’t selling your products online, you are missing a slice of that financial pie.
Setting up an eCommerce website isn’t as tough as you might have thought. By using the right web hosting, investing a bit of extra time and money, and following this guide from Entrepreneur, you too could soon be bringing in extra income from online sales.
Ignoring the Magic of SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a buzz phrase and a piece of jargon that confuses most small business owners. In simple terms, SEO is about making changes to your website, allowing it to appear more clearly in the listings of search engines like Yahoo, Google and Bing.
The benefits are clear. If you want to find a business or product, most people would use a search engine. If your business isn’t optimised to appear in search engines, it is losing out on valuable customers.
So how do you optimise your site for Google?
Mastering SEO is an art form, but taking advantage of the basics is very simple and any small business owner can master them. It begins with optimising meta tags and website text to fit with your product or service and carries on into some much deeper and perplexing territory.
The value of SEO should never be underestimated. Industry leader Moz has a guide to basic SEO. It takes time and careful thought to understand, but it is very much worth taking advantage of.
Using Free Web Hosting
With web hosting, you get what you pay for. If that service is free, you get very little.
Free web hosting is a tempting offer for many SMEs. Why pay when you’re only building a small website? Free platforms are perfect for personal blogs, but once you stray into the world of eCommerce, it’s very important to avoid such offers.
Free web hosting comes with numerous disadvantages that seriously outweigh the savings. Let’s begin with the most concerning aspect: support. Your business website is a lifeline that reaches out to a world of customers. If it has technical issues, you’ll be stranded without help if you use a free hosting service. There is often no helpline, only email contacts that take days to get in touch and resolve your issue. It’s a very different story with paid web hosting services.
You’ll also miss out on customisation options, experience slow loading speeds, have limited bandwidth — the amount of visitors allowed per month — and small amounts of storage. Worst of all, though, you might be advertising a competitor’s business.
Free web hosting services often recover costs by displaying adverts on your website. As adverts have evolved, they have also taken to showing content based on previous websites visited and the interests of the viewer. If a customer has gone to a competitor’s website before coming to you, it is entirely possible an unsolicited advertisement for your competitor will appear on your website.
Adopting Poor Website Design
It’s official: people now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. It’s all down to our digital world of immediate information and instant gratification. If you can’t captivate your viewers, giving them what they want in seconds, they’ll leave.
The key to keeping viewers interested in your website is strong design and clear information. You need to offer a sleek and modern format, all while instantly displaying all the information valuable to the viewer. Easy, right?
You need to show them in just a few seconds why your website deserves more than a glance. The best thing to do is take these two steps:
- Smart design: Invest in a website design that is relevant to your industry and the modern age. Muted tones, lots of blank space and heavy use of visuals is recommended. Just look at the design of mega-corporation websites like Apple and Nike. This is smart design. You know what the site is offering immediately.
- Limit text: You may have noticed on these websites that there isn’t a lot of text. Most information is in the visuals, with bits of text backing it up with product information or assistance in navigation. A short attention span doesn’t allow time to read big, chunky paragraphs. Keeps things clear, concise and save the details for later.
Not Utilising Calls to Action
There is a point to be made about being too ‘salesy’, but businesses are often so focused on not coming across as pushy that it actually proves to be detrimental.
You don’t want to bombard customers with “buy now” signs and pop-ups for products, but you also want to ensure they have the option to make those purchases and that you give them that drive and push to do so.
Call to actions are pieces of text that encourage people to make a purchase or visit your store. These are important to include. Most users aren’t going to dig deep into your website to find where to download your menu, what your price list is, how to find your store and the like. Call to actions are a powerful way of putting the primary information you want visitors to see in front of them, without forcing it upon them.
Got an upcoming sale? Don’t pepper it all over your website and feature all the details on your landing page. Simply offer the user a call to action, inviting them to discover more. For example: “In two weeks we’ll be starting our biggest sale yet! Click here to find out more.”