Your website should be home base for everything you do online. Social media is great, guest posts are great, and hey, your email list is really great. But it all comes back to your website. That’s where the magic happens – the conversions.Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes that are costing millions of conversions on websites around the world. If you’re making any of the mistakes listed below, take heart. They’re all fixable mistakes. We’ve even given you the starting points on how to fix them.
1) Your website is slow
This can really hurt you. Even a fabulous site with world-class content can see terrible bounce rates and even worse conversion rates if it is slow. And by “slow”, I mean the pages take more than 3 seconds to load.
A few years ago Tagman discovered that each 1-second delay in page load times causes a 7% loss in conversions.
Not sure how long the pages on your site take to load? Check Pingdom’s Website Speed Test tool. Or even better, use Google’s analytics reports to see the speed stats on all the pages of your site at once. There’s a fairly advanced tutorial on how to do that here. Google’s own page on how to interpret the Site Speed reports is here. If Analytics terrifies you, these reports may be difficult to understand. But if you can work with it well enough to set up a goal, you’ll probably be able to make sense of these super-valuable reports.
Once you know how good or bad your site speed is, then head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see what you need to do to speed your site up.
2) Your website isn’t mobile-friendly
Have you spent any time on your site via a smartphone recently? If not, go get a nice cup of coffee. While you leisurely drink it, try to use your website via your mobile phone for about 15-20 minutes. Try to read a post, navigate around, sign up for your email list, place an order, download a report, follow yourself on social media. You know, all the basic things people do on websites. Just do them on your phone.
Just keep a pen and paper nearby. You may find yourself wanting to take A LOT of notes. It’s usually a pretty big surprise what works or doesn’t work. And that’s even if you did make the smart choice and invested in a responsive design.
As you probably know, more than half the traffic on the web now is via mobile devices. Google itself laid down the law earlier this year with it’s “mobilegeddon” update.
3) Your pages aren’t optimized for search engines
You don’t need a Ph.D. in search engine optimization to get your pages to rank. You might want something like the plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast, though. Even if you’re on a Wix or Magento site, there are a bunch of things you can do to make your site more easily found and read by the search engines. SEO absolute basics would include:
- Optimize the title and meta description tags of all your pages
- Don’t overuse keywords, but be conscious of them. Sprinkle your keywords throughout the text of your page, varying the keywords. Write for people first, search engines second. Keywords in filenames, directories and ALT tags are helpful.
- Add noindex tags to pages you don’t want search engines to see
- Installing both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Then reading and understanding the reports.
4) You have no calls to action
In many ways, all of our marketing comes down to the call to action. All the content creation, the content promotion, the strategy, the planning and the advertising. But according to a SCORE small business study done earlier this year, 70% of small business websites have no call to action. They never ask their visitors to do anything.
This is the easiest fix in the world. Just make the ask! Your best choice for a call to action will depend on your business, but here are some actions to choose from:
- To call you
- To sign up for your newsletter
- To place an order
- To schedule an appointment
- To visit your retail location
- To download a report
5) Your site is text heavy
When I say “text heavy” I mean you’ve long, black and white columns of text with maybe one image per page. Text will never go away, but there’s no denying the thrall of the visual web. People just love pictures. To our reptilian brains, text will always seem hard to read. And so, almost subconsciously, we’ll always prefer images to words.
Often we’ll prefer moving images to still ones, too. That might be an animated gif in a blog post or an email, or an embedded video on a landing page.
If your website has less than two or three images per page, then it’s time to add some photos. Add some hearty serving of images on your site. You need a sprinkling of videos, too. Don’t forget about SlideShares either – they add a lot of interactivity, which can reduce bounce rates. Even an interactive image or two might help. Of course, there are also polls, and quizzes and tools. These have also been shown to not only keep visitors on a page, but increase their chances of coming back later, too.
This interactive image from the website The Science of Us makes you click around to find out how people seated in different parts of a restaurant tend to order.
Sound like lots of work? Not really. It’s a snap to embed a YouTube video, Facebook post, or a SlideShare. Infographics are just images. And WordPress users have a ton of options with survey and quiz plugins.
So go get creative: Think outside the text box.
6) Your design looks stale and clunky
Fusty web design can cost you business. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend lots of money, or that your site has to win design awards. But if you know your site needs an update, invest. Especially (hint, hint) if your site isn’t mobile-friendly.
7) Your site is hard or impossible for you to edit easily
This is not one of the problems that typically gets mentioned when we talk about faulty websites, but I see this trip up small business owners all the time. Too many of them seem to get “stuck” with their websites. They are unable to change them or even make simple updates without it being A BIG DEAL.
Your website is yours. It should be under your control. If it’s scary for you to make a simple text edit to it, or if it takes hundreds of dollars to make even a simple teeny change, then there’s a problem. Perhaps it might be better for you to have a simpler website, but one that you could manage easier?
8) Your about page is lame, or you don’t clearly explain what you do
About pages are usually the most neglected page on a website. This stings, because they’re often the second most visited page on a site. Surprised? Maybe we shouldn’t be: The whole reason people go to websites is often just to learn more about a company or person.
When we don’t offer this information, it actually annoys people. The 2015 B2B Web Usability Report from Huff/KoMarketing actually discovered that the #1 reason B2B visitors leave a site is due to “lack of message”. What those survey respondents meant by “lack of message” is that they couldn’t tell what a company does. Ouch. That’s some pretty basic information.
9) You don’t know basic stats about your site
And you’re not tracking them, either. And so you’re breaking the law. Okay, Pearson’s Law: “That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.” So start measuring. And get clear about which metrics really matter to your business. I might vote for:
- Unique visitor value
- Conversion rate
- Email opt-in rate
- Unique visitors
- Bounce rate
10) You haven’t updated your site in more than a week
This is probably the most fixable fault of the bunch. All it takes is a little free time. You’ve got plenty of that, right? 🙂
Seriously, though, we all need to keep our sites reasonably current. Maybe for you that’s a once-a-quarter blog post. Maybe it’s a daily blog post. Everybody’s business is different.
But do yourself a favor. If you’ve only got one thing updated on your site, make it the copyright date. It blows me away how many huge companies – smart companies, with sophisticated websites – forget to update the copyright in the footer of their webpages. And we notice. I notice. Google page evaluators notice.
So fix it.
Back to you
Those are the mistakes I see the most often. How about you? Got any pet peeve website mistakes you’d like us all to stop making? Tell us about them in the comments.