10 Common Mistakes Website Owners Need to Avoid

ChecklistAre you seeing a lack of traffic, conversions and organic ranks?

Here’s a few probable reasons why.

Over the years, we have seen countless websites created that aim to be “cutting edge”, “contemporary”, “on trend” or simply suited to the clients needs but time and again, they overlook the fundamental point of having a website in the first place – customers and conversions.

Whether it is down to the designer or the owner of the site, many mistakes are often made that end up backfiring in an attempt to either improve search rank or improve their appeal to the target audience.

In most instances, the changes implemented have the exact opposite effect to what they set out to achieve and at times, can be disastrous. If you want to avoid these common and costly pitfalls, here’s our advice when developing a new website or trying to improve your existing one:

1. Keyword Stuffing

It’s one of the oldest and most failed attempts at on-page optimisation. We’ve lost count how many times we’ve seen sites with titles, meta tags, headings, body copy and footers all stuffed with keywords; that are a blatant attempts to try to manipulate the search results.

Trust us when we say this – it doesn’t work! Google’s algorithms dealt with keyword stuffing many moons ago so if your site is guilty of this, get rid of the offending content asap and start making your site cleaner and leaner, aimed solely at users and not search indexing.

2. Poor URL Structures

Google loves websites that clearly define what the page you are viewing is about and that includes the URL of the page you’re visiting too.

We frequently see instances where the website designer was simply lazy and lacked forward planning (or essential knowledge) in their site development and used generic, non-descript URLs such a template1.html or page1.php

If your website, blog post, article or page is about a subject such as “car detailing” then make sure your page URL reflects that such as car-detailing.html

Fortunately, many of today’s modern open-source CMS systems such as WordPress, Magento and Drupal all allow for the URLs (or permalinks) to be rewritten into a more user friendly format but in most instances, this needs to be set up and configured in the relevant back office.

If you have a site running on a CMS system, make sure you are taking advantage of this feature as it will do wonders for your organic search ranks.

3. Thin Content

It’s not uncommon to find websites that are filled with large pictures; in many instances purely images and virtually no contextual content. Whatever the reason is, remember that a lack of verbiage will mean there’s little for Google to get it’s teeth into and if this is the case with your site, the chances are you rank poorly.

From a user perspective, no one likes waffle but if there is an opportunity to write something informative about you or your organisation, consider adding this to your homepage especially, as this is the main landing page most users will find you from.

A good elevator pitch will go a long way to grabbing someone’s attention, not to mention help Google understand what your site is about and categorise it accordingly.

4. Fat Content

In a direct opposite to point 3 above, too much wordy content can be off-putting and confuse your message. It’s all about balance.

If you can say what you need to in one sentence then do so. Writing several paragraphs to sell a product or service or make a viewpoint is pointless, when a few words will do and most likely, be far more powerful.

5. Lack of Quality Content

As a final footnote to the overall content discussion, it is also a common mistake by site owners to literally leave their website blowing in the wind.

It is common knowledge these days that Google rewards websites that frequently post original, useful and informative content. So if your site lacks a blog or news page, consider having one where you can post regular articles surrounding your niche and start conversations and interactions about that subject.

A website is an evolving product, not a static brochure so treat it accordingly!

6. Poor Navigation

It still amazes us that in this day and age of websites that need to operate effectively on multiple devices, that navigating some sites is still an arduous task. Some (but not all) designers get carried away with trying to be clever when in fact, their obsession with overcomplicating what should essentially be the most simple and intuitive element of the site, ends up being a dogs dinner.

Navigating a site should be easy so if your site is overcomplicating this essential part of finding pages on your website, is it any wonder your bounce and exit rate is so high?

If this applies to you, our advice is to get it fixed and fast. Stop making your users do the work. Give them the info they want – quickly and easily.

7. Poor Content Distribution

Another common mistake that gets committed frequently is poor content distribution and planning. With website visitors now using a whole range of devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, all running on various resolutions and aspect ratios, you need to ensure the essential messages and content on your site are visible straight away.

If the key selling message is below the fold, then guess what? Your visitors will probably miss it and go elsewhere. If you have something important to say, make sure its seen first and foremost when your landing page loads.

Treat scrolling as your enemy. Prevent it at all costs.

8. Mobile Usability Issues

The world still has literally millions of websites that simply don’t work on mobile devices. If the world is going mobile then it’s about time you did too!

If your site was designed some years back when most web visitors used a desktop computer then you’re already lagging behind the competition. It’s time to get it fixed and go mobile.

Whether you create a separate mobile site or better still, redevelop your existing site to a responsive standard, catering for mobile users will increase your visibility in search results hugely.

Google has started issuing messages to webmasters informing them that their sites do not render well on mobile devices and will thus, be listed lower down in the search results. If you have that message sitting in your Google Webmaster Tools account then it’s time you took action and got it fixed now!

9. No Call to Action

A call to action is your most trusted weapon to getting someone’s attention and ultimately a conversion. If your site lacks a short and effective call to action then you need to consider adding some to your key landing pages to drive users to the pages on your site that matter.

Many sites still lack this essential tool so if you’re in that camp, get into action and get your call to action in place pronto!

10. No Conversion Form

Whether you are using PPC, SEO or none of the above to drive traffic to your site, a conversion form on your key landing pages is vital to ensure users who visit your site sign up, contact you or subscribe to your service.

So many sites simply rely on the user to click on a link which just adds an addition layer of work for the user. By adding a conversion form in a prominent place, they can see instantly that they can get the info or task they need done; by completing a simple, short form.

Don’t ask for dozens of form fields, just the essentials. Do this and you’ll instantly see the difference!

Make these changes and see the difference!

This list is in most cases, just the tip of the iceberg and the most basic areas that we see needing attention on client sites.

If you fall into any of the above categories, our advice is to get the changes made as soon as you can. We assure you, you won’t regret it and will a huge difference in fortunes as your site will be more effective, leaner and cleaner which Google will reward you for.

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