They hire the cheapest Designers. The old saying, “You get what you pay for” comes to mind. Cheap websites are often cheap because the designers take shortcuts to develope them in order to save time. The less time spent on a site, the less it costs…usually. Many of these time saving techniques can have a long term harmful effect on the website’s potential.
They hire uncle Bill to design their website. This is also a way many small business owners try and save money. They tend to think a website is a website is a website. They haven’t even heard of the usability, server sided includes, or cascading style sheets. And there is a good chance that Uncle Bill hasn’t either. Sure, he might be a whiz bang on Frontpage, but it is more likely that the designers small business owners should be using placed their copy of Frontpage on the bottom of a landfill.
They reinvent the wheel on the navigation of the site. Visitors to site have certain expectations of how their surfing experience will go. These expectations have been set from surfing 1000′s of other websites in the past. The moment you betray this expectation is the moment your visitor turns around to leave within seconds to find a site that has much less confusing navigation.
Their website has an identity crisis. Every website should have a clear primary goal or purpose and no more than a few secondary ones. If you find yourself with more than this, then maybe it is time to start thinking about getting another website to emphasize your other goals and purposes. You never want to run the risk of diluting the branding of your site. A visitor should be able to quickly say what your site is about. So if you have a 3D baby scan business, don’t sell baby clothes and professional photography on the same site. Set up other URL’s for each of those to brand and promote them in their own light. Now your site knows what it is and you can always link over to the other sites.
Their website has no call to action. Well here I am. Now what do I do? I lost count of how many websites of doctors or lawyers I have seen that had tons of useful information…and that was it. Use the layout of your site to help the visitors reach you or take advantage of a promotion. Help them by making the “action” you want them to take POP out from the rest of the site, preferably in the sidebar or someplace that won’t seem too aggressive.
They think it will be easy, fast, and cheap to rank #1 in Google all over the world for the term “personal injury”. Small Business owners shouldn’t beat themselves up over this one. How would they know what it takes to achieve page one results? Setting proper expectations and educating small business owners enough to know what is a realistic expectation for their site is the best way to come up with a longterm strategy for a website that is plausible. It is important to concider marketing in the beginning because a website is nothing without traffic. The two go to gether like “peas and carrots” – Forrest Gump.
They copy content from other websites in the same niche. Yes, writing content can be boring and time consuming. The alternative many business owners take is to find a competitor’s site and copy and paste. They have commited the duplicate content sin which will do no good for you in the search engines eyes. Be original and be you.
Their websites are not search engine friendly and some are down right search engine anti-social. Watch out for the following: Using a cookie-cutter template to get your website designed. Designing in tables as opposed to CSS (many What You See Is What You Get editors, or WYSIWYG, fill the html with the various table tags). Using a Content Management System, or CMS, that leaves an abundance of junk code for the search engine spiders to crawl. The content and links on your site need to be clearly visible and easy to find for the search engines. A site designed in Flash improperly can make nearly everything invisible to search engines.
They turn their website into the Times Square of the internet with excessive advertising. Unless your site has a high volume of regularly updated quality content, a growing number of visitors and a decent amount of age, you really take away from the credibility of your website and brand by splashing Google Adsense all over it. The risk is not worth the reward. Blogs have exceptions but don’t apply to most business owners.
They link out to anybody and everybody. If you have to link out to other websites, they better be relevant to your niche, they hopefully give you a link back (recipr0cal linking), the site you are linking to better not be a personal photo album of your vacation at Disney land. All links on your site need to have a relevant purpose to the goal of the site and/or be useful to the site visitor, such as resources.
They make poor domain name choices. Many business owners think, if this isn’t available in .com I’ll just get it in .net, .biz, and so on. Most people try typing in a .com into the address bar just out of plain habit or by assuming that is where to find the business they are looking for. The problem is .com’s are hard to come by these days. Try looking for keyword rich URL’s that pertain to you industry as these will have the added benefit of helping a little in search rankings.
(BONUS) Their site looks and sounds like a video game promo. Flash can be the enemy of small business owners. Yes, it looks cool and entertaining, but it can make elements of the site invisible to search engine. It can also take a while to load, which may cause the visitor to leave. Music and sound should be used sparingly. If you really want music or sound running, make sure it is set to a default position of off. That way, the visitor can turn it on if they like and everyone is happy.