The Big Problem with Small Business Websites
Ouch, Small Business Website Mistakes Hurt!
Small business websites are a critical meeting point between small businesses and their increasingly mobile customers. Yet 36% of small businesses do not have a website at all! Maintaining an optimized site is crucial to acquiring new customers, building credibility, and nurturing client relationships.
Almost 1/3 of small business owners maintain their websites themselves. But, unfortunately, they neglect essential site functions that consumers want, like responsive and user-friendly design, engaging and relevant fresh content, and social network integration.
Let’s look at the big problem with small business websites, including costly mistakes small-business owners make when trying to maintain their websites.
We work with many small-business owners and look at a wide variety of small business websites every day. And don’t get me wrong; we have seen some fantastic small business websites, bravo! But unfortunately, all too often come across small business websites that range from lacking a few critical elements to being barely functional at all.
We want to help small business owners understand what is hurting small business websites the most. Here are the most common errors we see, how they hurt small businesses, and how you can fix them.
13 Common Problems with Small Business Websites
1. Not Mobile-First
In 2021 a responsive, mobile-first website is essential for any business! Not only do your mobile visitors expect this, but it is a Google requirement since the Google Mobile-Friendly Update of April 2015. Since the end of 2016, over 60% of website visits originate from a mobile device. For specific industries, this increases to over 90%!
Yet 60% of all small-business owners do not have a mobile-friendly website or know if their website is responsive and mobile capable.
Without the technology to engage their mobile visitors’ many small businesses are missing out on critical consumers. And the only way to fix that problem is with mobile-first web design.
2. Poor Design
The cost of designing their small business website is a significant concern for many small-business owners. As a result, many take shortcuts like using a free template or hosted solutions like Wix or Squarespace.
Generally, I do not recommend DIY website design. Most often, it leads to poor designs that detract from the message business owners need to convey. If you want to build your business website yourself, you must avoid making these small business website errors.
Visitors who have a bad user experience will not stay and engage with a business through the website. Even worse, they most likely will tell their friends about the bad experience and keep them away as well. So, yes, you will save a few dollars up front, but you will lose a lot more in missed opportunities for lead generation and lost sales in the long run!
3. No Call To Action (CTA)
Lacking directions are a frequent side effect of bad web design. Without a prominent call to action (CTA), your customers won’t know why they are visiting your website or what your company has to offer. Even worse, 93% of small business websites do not display a contact email address, and 49% do not list any phone numbers on their home page.
Suppose you are not providing visitors with a reason for visiting your site or an easy way to contact you. In that case, they will move on to your competitors. Remember, it is up to you to tell your potential customers what you want them to do! No, you are not rude! However, your website visitors expect you to do so. Because if you don’t, they will get the feeling you don’t care about them. And you don’t want that, do you?
4. No Metrics
Without performance metrics, small businesses cannot track their progress, their organic or paid reach, or their customer’s habits and needs. But, unfortunately, a whopping 75% do not use analytics tools like Google Analytics to measure their small business website’s performance.
And 60% do not feel they have the tools needed to make sense of their site’s analytics or take action to resolve issues. And unresolved problems only become worse over time.
Many website analytics resources are free to use and install, and they are not limited to Google or Bing Analytics. Tools such as Pingdom and GTMetrix can provide detailed feedback regarding your website visitors. This data includes how long your website took to load, the device and browser used to visit your site, and even their overall satisfaction level.
This kind of insight can pinpoint bottlenecks on small business websites and recommend ways to correct them. I don’t understand why any savvy small business owner would turn down free help!
5. Poor SEO
Small business marketing is getting more competitive, and small-business owners need every advantage they can get. Online discoverability is essential, helping potential customers find your company or business.
Yet 26% of small businesses cannot be found in online searches! The main reason is that their small business websites earn a Google Page Rank of zero or have no Google Page Rank at all. Here is how you can check your Google Page Rank.
Because they do not understand SEO basics, many small-business owners are hesitant to implement a search engine optimization strategy. But not having an SEO strategy keeps them from reaching better search visibility. And I can understand that; you don’t want to appear “stupid” or lose your hard-earned money.
Here is an alternative for you; use one or more of the essential tools in our SEO toolbox for 2021.
6. No Credibility
You can say marvelous things about yourself or your product, but they are worth nothing to your website visitors if you are the only one saying them. They just met you. They don’t trust you yet and won’t take your word for it.
To build trust quickly, you need credibility enhancers: Case studies or testimonials, logos of your clients, “as featured in…” section, awards, certifications, etc.
If you have nothing to back up your claims, your credibility suffers.
Sure, not everyone has won awards or written for famous websites. But even if you are starting, you can get a couple of testimonials from friends in exchange for some free advice.
If your website was a city and visitors were tourists, navigation would be the direction signs. And suppose direction signs in a town are confusing. In that case, the tourists won’t visit many places and leave soon for another city where the mayor cares more about his guests.
All navigation labels must be descriptive and intuitive. But when you use ten navigation labels or labels that are too wordy or unclear, you have a problem.
Here is how to make your navigation more concise:
- Make it no longer than seven items (the maximum amount of elements our short-term memory can hold). The fewer navigation links you have, the higher is the probability that your visitors will click on something.
- If your page is just one paragraph, it does not deserve to be a separate page in the first place. It shouldn’t occupy a valuable slot in your navigation. Apart from not providing enough value for your visitors (how much can you learn from a paragraph out of context?), Google considers it low-value content, and it won’t rank.
- Keep your labels as short and as straightforward as possible. For example, “About,” “Contact,” and “Services” are as clear as “About Us,” “Contact Us,” or “Our Services.” Still, they make your navigation shorter and easier to process.
- Make it clear where each navigation item leads. For example, your visitors may not guess that “How can I help you?” actually leads to your “Services” page.
Also, navigation is the last place you should try to be clever. If your visitors don’t understand the label of that navigation menu item, they won’t click on it. Would you?
8. No Social Proof
Social sharing is a vital component of any digital marketing and lead generation strategy. According to Datareportal, there were 4.48 Billion active social media users in July 2021!
Allow your customers to share their experience with your brand via social channels. As a result, you enable information about your business to reach people you might not have otherwise targeted.
Yet over 40% of all small business websites lack Facebook widgets, and the same percentage lack Twitter widgets.
And other social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or the professional networking platform LinkedIn are most often missing as well. And that makes it impossible for your visitors to share your small business website or interact with the business through social media.
A quick note on Google+; Google shut down Google+ for business and personal use on April 2, 2019.
You should, however, create Google My Business pages for your business or product brand. If you have more than one physical location, be sure to create a Google My Business listing for each one.
If you want to get more out of your social media efforts and spend less time doing so, you may want to use one or more of these must-have social media marketing tools.
9. Not Focusing on the Target Audience
The only part of your business website that is partially about you is your About page. The rest of it, especially your homepage, is about your visitors’ pain points and how you can help relieve them.
Many small business websites do not focus on the needs and expectations of their target audience. As a result, when potential customers arrive on your small business website, they begin their conversion journey. Unfortunately, this means that while business owners are ready to sell, their potential customers are not prepared to buy.
Instead of hitting your visitors with a “BUY NOW!” button the moment they arrive on your site, you need to help guide them on their conversion journey. What need is your audience trying to fulfill? What makes you the best option to help them? How have you helped others in the same situation?
It would help if you answered these questions quickly before your website visitors decide to look elsewhere. Also, make sure your copy uses “you” and “yours” more often than “I” and “my.” You will make it clear how you can improve their lives and show your visitors that you genuinely care about helping them.
10. Hard-to-Read Text
Before your visitors can appreciate the value of your content, they need to be able to read it. And one of the big problems with small business websites is content that is hard or even impossible to read.
The first problem is the text is often too small to read. Not everyone has 20/20 vision, and if you make visitors squint, they will not stay around. If you want to keep your target audience reading, I suggest using a font size of at least 14px; 16px is even better.
Be sure to keep sufficient contrast between your text and your background. Avoid using similar colors that can blend into each other. And be careful when placing text on top of background images. Select images carefully, or add a darker overlay to keep your text legible.
Light backgrounds and dark text make it easier to read than white text on a dark background. And here is a little-known fact for you; dark gray text is easier to read than black. So feel free to use that tidbit on trivia night!
If you want or need to have a dark background, here is how to use white text on a dark background.
11. Outdated Content
Small business websites that get frequently updated rank higher on search engines and are more engaging for visitors. But curating appropriate content and updating even a simple website can be time-consuming and frustrating for many small-business owners.
64% of small-business owners find the time necessary to update their website a major challenge, and 24% say the cost of maintaining their site is a big hurdle. And when small-business owners maintain their site, they risk wasting time they could be using to cultivate new business.
A much better option is to have your small business website built on a content management platform (CMS). My personal favorite is WordPress, and our design and development teams back me on this.
But there are other content management systems for small businesses. A word of caution, as my good friend and WordPress expert Bob Dunn, likes to say: “Sure, WordPress is easy! Once you know how to use it!”
So instead of trying to build your WordPress business website yourself, I highly recommend that you engage the services of a professional web designer or web design agency. Yes, it will cost money. But you can count on professional support and training to get you started on the right foot. And you can usually receive ongoing support, just in case you get stuck.
The footer often seems the most underestimated part of a business website, which is ironic because it’s an area your visitors see on every page! The footer is ideal for drawing attention to important information, pages, or products, keeping your visitors longer on your website, and helping them navigate through it.
Here are the things you can include in your footer:
- Navigation to main pages
- Postal address/link to a map
- Phone and fax numbers
- Social icons
- Email signup
- Search box
- Your mission statement
- Latest articles
- Call to action
Not all of these points have to be in your footer, of course. Just select the most relevant for you and your business. But whatever you do, don’t leave your footer empty. Instead, make that valuable space at the end of every page work for you.
13. No Dedicated IT Support
Small business owners often are not as tech-savvy as larger companies, or they don’t have the staff to provide for a full-time IT person. And that can be very dangerous! Without a designated IT professional or team to support small businesses, business owners risk security breaches or costly mistakes.
43% of all data breaches involve small and medium-sized businesses, and 61% of all SMBs have reported at least one cyber-attack during 2020. By working with professionals, your small business website receives technical support.
Here is one way to prevent many technical glitches and the resulting costly downtime of your business website. First, find out if your web designer or web design agency offers a monthly website maintenance plan.
Most often, such a plan includes regular updates to your website framework, plugins, and database, as well as optimizing performance and regular backups. Think of it this way, the money you spend on routine maintenance is a fraction of what it will cost to rebuild your website after someone hacked it.
How to Fix Small Business Websites
Before you panic, keep in mind that you can usually fix the problems outlined above in a time and cost-effective manner. But you most likely will need some professional help to get you started. On the other hand, most website owners can usually quickly implement some immediate fixes, so let’s start there.
The Low-Hanging Fruit
Here are a few things that you can either do yourself or have a professional web designer do for you:
- Add a call to action (CTA) if you don’t already have one.
- Add your contact email and phone number to your home page; having it in the footer of every page is even better.
- Check to see if your business address is correct, including the pin on Google Maps.
- If you are active on social networks, add links to them on your website and blog.
- Take a look at your content and remove outdated content and add new content.
- If you have a blog, write a new post or two.
In most cases, a professional web designer or agency can take care of everything on this list in a day or two. Of course, you will have to pay a few hundred dollars, but you will get immediate benefits.
Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly!
In 2021 having a responsive website is an absolute must for any business!
You can check to see how your business website looks on mobile devices in real-time through the Google Mobile-Friendly testing tool. Just type in your domain URL, and the tool will show you how it looks and functions on mobile devices and smartphones.
If you want to compare your site on various mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, I recommend this website emulator. Again, these are not screenshots but real live websites that you can navigate and scroll through.
A website emulator is also a great way to check if everything looks and works as you want on mobile devices. For example, even mobile-friendly responsive websites may not look or function the same on all mobile devices. This resource will help you identify and fix any shortcomings before they become a bigger problem.
Remember, if you do not have a great experience, your visitors will not have one either!
Free Website Audit
We can perform a comprehensive website audit for a detailed, in-depth analysis of your current small business website. If you have not checked it, we will take a look at your small business website to make sure it’s mobile-friendly, up-to-date, and serving your business as it should.
We will provide you with a website audit report within five business days detailing our recommendations or give you a thumbs up! All you have to do is ask!
What If You Need a New Small Business Website?
In some cases, it is easier and more cost-effective to start over from scratch, especially if your current small business website has significant shortcomings. Common faults include your website is not mobile-friendly, being based on a template or hosted solution that is difficult to update and suffering from bad design. And keep in mind that websites get dated as well.
If your small business website is five years old or more, you should consider getting a fresh look and a small business website that works for you, not against you! So look for a web design professional in your city, or reach out to us, and we will be happy to help you!
We Build Small Business Websites!
We are a team of expert WordPress designers and developers who design fully functional websites for businesses and product brands. We follow the latest web design trends and implement them to ensure high performance.
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of small business website consulting and WordPress web design services, including website design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, and WordPress optimization.
To get a feature-packed and flawless website developed for your business, feel free to contact us for a free consultation and no-obligation estimate.
Did You Fix Small Business Website Mistakes on Your Site?
Did you notice any of the above small business website mistakes on your site? Or did you find some additional ones not mentioned in our blog post? How did you fix them? And what kind of results did you achieve once you updated your business website?
Please feel free to comment below so our audience can benefit and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!
By Gregor Saita
Co-Founder / CXO
Thank you for this great piece!