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Your website is one of your most powerful marketing tools. It gives you the opportunity to communicate your brand, products and services in a clear tone of voice to your ideal customers. You can use it to raise your profile, build your reputation and engage with customers. However, get it wrong and your website could be losing you business.

Are you making these common website mistakes?Here are nine common website mistakes that you could be making, as well as suggestions about how to correct them:

Common website mistake 1.  No clear message

You know your stuff and you have so much information you want to get across, but the Home page of your website isn’t the place to do it. In fact, less is often more even on service or product pages. The thing is, website visitors are busy, so you need to show them what you do and what you can do for them at a glance. Of course, you can add extra information into your website in the form of blog posts, product guides and so on, but concentrate on the core messages at all times.

If someone who knew nothing about your company came to your website, would they understand what it is that you sell? If the answer is ‘no’, then how can you make your message clearer?

Common website mistake 2.  Too many distractions

Continuing on the same theme, does your website have too many different elements that distract visitors from taking a clear path through the site? Or, in an effort to convince them to sign up with you, are you bombarding them with ten different sales messages? The problem is that this can come across as desperate or confusing, rather like a telesales person who is using every single line on their script whether it’s relevant to you or not – and we all know how annoying that is!

Every time you take away an element from a crowded web page, you have the potential to make the remaining items more prominent or ‘louder’. Think of it as how clearly you’d hear a person speak if there were only a few of you in a room compared to how loud they’d have to shout to be heard above a crowd.

Is there information overload on your website, particularly on the Home page? If you are running different campaigns, have you created a landing page for each one to help measure the success of the campaign? If you haven’t, you really should.

Common website mistake 3.  The curse of knowledge

Another common problem is that we are too close to our own businesses and websites, and can be weighed down with the curse of knowledge. In other words, we use a kind of short-hand that we’ve developed over years of being immersed in our industry. This might be buzz words, acronyms or assumptions about what other people know.

This is where an outsider’s perspective can help. You need someone who can look at your website with fresh eyes and highlight where the curse of knowledge might be driving traffic away. There’s nothing worse than making your customers feel like they’re not in on a secret or that they are in some way lacking because they don’t ‘get’ your short-hand.

Get a fresh perspective from a friend or think about what someone new to your business or industry might not know. Don’t assume anything.

Common website mistake 4.  Poor navigation

Being able to navigate from A to B on your website in as few clicks as possible is essential to its overall usability and crucial to your SEO. It’s important to use navigation consistently throughout your website, so that visitors quickly know what to expect and where to look. People don’t want to waste time trawling through pages to find what they’re looking for, so it’s your job to help them.

Keep your navigation as clear and simple as possible, positioning it horizontally at the top of the page or vertically down the left hand side. Again, try to avoid overwhelming your visitors with loads of options. Apparently, our short-term memories can recall a list of seven items but eight is too many!

Is your navigation clear? Can website visitors see at a glance how to get from A to B? Can they do it in two clicks? If you reference other blog posts, have you included a link to them in your copy so that your customers can read more without having to search through old blogs?

Common website mistake 5.  Not responsive

It is estimated that approximately 28% of Internet usage comes from mobile phones (research from the Pew Research Centre and stats from Smart Insights). This figure is predicted to grow over the coming years. With more and more people viewing websites from smart phones and tablet PCs, it’s important to check how your website looks on a variety of devices. People may well navigate away from your site if it’s not easy to view while they’re out and about. You can no longer rely on them logging on to a desktop to view your site at a more convenient time.

Is your website responsive? If not, have you thought about using a responsive WordPress theme, for  example, or having a mobile version of your site created?

Common website mistake 6.  Auto playing videos or audio files

Video is massive. With YouTube being the second largest search engine and videos attracting two to three times more monthly visitors to your website, if you aren’t using video yet you really should be. BUT, and this is a real bug-bear for me, please give visitors a chance to arrive on your site and press play for themselves rather than setting your video or audio files to play automatically. There is nothing worse than forgetting your speakers are turned up and a video suddenly bursting to life when you least expect it, especially if share an office with other people.

Does your website feature a video or audio files? Do you have a video on your Home page if the design allows it? If it plays automatically, consider changing the settings to that visitors can press play when they’re ready.

Common website mistake 7. Out of date SEO

As discussed in my recent blog about the three pillars of SEO, many companies find it a challenge to keep their SEO up-to-date. The thing is that if you last took SEO advice several years ago, you could be damaging your rankings without realising.

It pays to regularly monitor and tweak your SEO. Instead of focusing on keyword densities (that’s sooooo 2010), concentrate on providing high quality content, high quality links and engagement on social media.

Have you installed Google Analytics? When was the last time you checked it? Where is your traffic come from? Are you using the vocabulary that your visitors will be using to find you?

Common website mistake 8. No call to action

Every unique visitor or page view represents an opportunity to turn your website traffic into warm leads. It is said that a person may have to come into contact with your company at least seven times before they buy from you (the figure could be as much as 27 times according to some sources!). A strong call to action on every web page means that website visitors understand what is expected of them and what they need to do next.

Do you have a call to action on each web page? What do you want your customers to do? Book an appointment, call you for more information, purchase a special offer, or sign up to your newsletter? Let them know!

Common website mistake 9. Not capturing visitors details

This is probably the most common and most costly website mistake. What is the point of driving lots of traffic to your website if you’re not finding a way to capture the visitors’ details and contact them again to initiate those seven or more points of contact before the person buys from you? If you let your website visitors wonder aimlessly from page to page, then they’ll just wonder away when they’re done.

An irresistible freebie, such as a free ebook or a regular e-newsletter can be a great way of adding extra value to the customer’s experience in exchange for capturing their email address AND the all-important permission to use it.

Do you have a mechanism on your website to capture visitors’ email addresses? If not, what could you put together quickly and easily to encourage people to sign up? Make this a priority. If you have a mailing list of warm leads, you have the security of knowing you can still market to customers even if your website goes down or you lose your Facebook page.

 

So, which of these common website mistakes are you making? Take an afternoon to really assess your website and look at positive changes you could make. Why not ask a friend or colleague for their honest opinion? Small changes could make a big difference!

Need some help with writing an ebook or focusing your website copy on your ideal customers? Just drop me an email at emma@thefreelancecopywriter.co.uk and we can discuss the best solution for your business.

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Emma Heasman

Emma Heasman has been an in-house and freelance copywriter for the past 13 years and launched The Freelance Copywriter in 2003. Ever passionate about copywriting, she now works with small businesses to help them write copy that speaks to their ideal customers. Connect with Emma on Google+

2 Responses so far.

  1. A very useful article, Emma. As you know, my website is in dire need of an update – I like the look of it, but it doesn’t really speak to my ideal client at the moment! I also think I need to explain my services better on it, as maybe not everybody understands what transcription can really do for them! 🙂

    • Emma Heasman says:

      Thanks, Catherine. I’m really pleased you found the article useful. I definitely think you should focus more on your wonderful transcription and proofreading services, and how they benefit people, particularly in terms of getting more mileage out of webinars, podcasts, training videos, etc. I do love the look of your website – it has a very clean and logical feel, which makes it easy to navigate and read.

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