Stop Making These Small Business Website Mistakes If You Want to Succeed Online!
Small Business Website Mistakes Hurt Your Bottom Line!
In my line of work I look at dozens of small business websites every week. And every week I find some really awesome ones, a few average examples, and a lot of really bad sites. Small business owners don’t intend to create a bad online presence, but many of them keep making the same Small Business Website Mistakes! In a previous post I outlined The Big Problems with Small Business Websites. Today I want to point out common small business website mistakes and help you avoid them.
A well-crafted, mobile-first business website can boost your business marketing, website conversions, client retention, lead to higher search discoverability, and generally provide you with better returns no matter where you are located, or what specific industry you serve. Yet too many small business owners put together their website quickly and without much thought just so they have something online.
They don’t believe that an effective business website is a major part of their business marketing strategy, but feel they need to have a website in order to appear “with it” and “modern.” Unfortunately this approach has virtually zero chance of any measurable success. Rushing leads to common small business website mistakes that can affect your reputation and cost you business. I want to show you what not to do when creating small business websites and content instead!
Common Small Business Website Mistakes
1 – Not Hiring a Professional
Look, I really admire small business owners that want to build their own website, I really do! But I have built too many websites myself, and managed teams that build websites all over the world to know that sooner or later you will run into problems that are well beyond the abilities of an amateur.
And I also understand the main reason you want to do this on your own! You simply believe that a DIY website is the most cost-effective option for you and your small business! Of all the common small business website mistakes this one is easy to understand, and the one that will cost you the most in the long run! So before you complain that professional web designers are too expensive for your small business budget, consider this:
“If you think a professional is expensive, just wait until you hire an amateur!“
Think a professional is too expensive?
Many small business owners think that engaging the services of a professional web designer or agency to design their small business website is not worth the cost. Instead, the “cost conscious” small business owner often opts for putting together a quick logo using a free online logo utility, and then create a website from a free template on Wix or Weebly. You have seen the results! Sure, they end up with a website. However, lacking any design or development skills of their own many small business owners end up with a site that is not usable from their customer’s perspective.
Avoiding small business website mistakes is only one of the benefits of hiring a professional web designer or agency. Many professionals offer small business website packages to meet the needs of a startup company, a small family business, non-profit organization or other small business venture. This ensures that you receive a small business website that your clients find attractive and easy to use, and a professionally designed brand logo that serves as your online brand ambassador.
Hiring a professional will help you avoid these small business website mistakes. A professionally designed online presence will help you keep existing and attract new customers. This in turn leads to higher conversions and sales. And isn’t that what you are after first?
2 – Not Having a Mobile-First Website
This is the most critical of all small business website mistakes, and all too many small businesses make it! Just so you are clear on this, since 4/21/2015 Google requires you to have a mobile-friendly website. Not only that, but most of your customers will visit your small business website while using a mobile device. If your website sucks on their iPhone they will find a competitor of yours with a responsive website. Therefore having a mobile-first website is absolutely essential in 2019!
If you are not sure if your business website is mobile-friendly you can check it in real-time on a variety of mobile devices on Responsinator.com. If it looks great you can move on to the next step. But if you notice any issues you should really fix those first.
3 – Not Focusing on Your Ideal Client
The primary purpose of your small business website is to attract, engage, and convert your ideal client. But in order for that to actually work you need to focus on that ideal client with razor sharpness! Unfortunately one of the most common small business website mistakes is either not focusing at all, or focusing on to broad a range of potential consumers. The first will do next to nothing to attract visitors to your site; the second will attract visitors who are not really interested in what you have to offer.
So how can you make this better? First of all, you need to determine who your ideal client or customer actually is! you need to consider things like target demographics, likes and dislikes, location, personal preferences, and so on. The next step is to determine what exactly you want your ideal client to do once they visit your small business website. Do you want them to call or email you? Or stop by your store restaurant? Maybe you want them to sign up for an event, or download a whitepaper?
Regardless of your answers to the above you must accommodate the needs and expectations of your ideal client, customer or consumer! Otherwise your small business website will never provide the results you need to thrive or survive in the digital age!
4 – Not Having a Strong Brand
In 2019 your consumers will most likely connect with your brand long before they actually visit your small business website. Maybe they already follow you on Instagram or Twitter, or have come across your Facebook Business Page. Or perhaps they may have simply noticed you at a small business event. If you want to use this to your advantage you must develop a strong brand.
Unfortunately many small businesses either do not have a strong brand identity, or they rely on a generic brand image. Unfortunately both are examples of small business website mistakes. Let me put this very simply; if you have a weak or non-existent brand your online competitors can and will use that to their advantage! Ouch! That’s not exactly what you want, is it?
Therefore it is essential that you create and develop a strong personal brand for your business, regardless of what your business does. Of course your brand needs to match you and your personality. but it also needs to focus on the expectations of your ideal customer or client.
5 – Not Proofreading The Content
The next of our common small business website mistakes is the one most often overlooked by small business owners! A spelling error on your website can make customers doubt your authenticity, reliability, and professionalism. Too many small business owners write their own content, run it through a spell checker (or not!), and put it online. However, spell checkers, even if you do use them, do not catch every single error, and can not be relied upon for something as important as your small business website.
Consider having all your business website content checked by a professional proofreader or editor to ensure that your content is well written, accurate, and has correct spelling and grammar. If nothing else, read the content aloud before posting it. Quality content that is free of spelling and grammatical errors will help you put your best foot forward with your website.
6 – Not Updating Your Content
Nothing will hurt your brand reputation more than having outdated content on your small business website. A high quality and trusted website must contain the latest information, videos, ads, infographics, and other related content in order to stay relevant and rank high in search engines. This includes your blog posts, case studies, white papers and product listings as well. Avoid making another one of our small business website mistakes and regularly evaluate all of your content for relevancy and timeliness.
Some content can easily be updated by simply adding the latest statistics, images, info, etc. This includes blog posts and white papers, product info or service details. Be sure to check your FAQ section if you have one and update it as needed. Any content that can not be updated should be deleted, or at least archived in order to keep your most visible web content fresh and informative.
7 – Hidden or Confusing Navigation Elements
The next of our small business website mistakes is the result of misplaced creativity. Some small business owners decide to be different and add a dash of creativity to their website navigation, thinking this is a wonderful way to personalize their online presence. Just to clarify, that is a really bad idea!
What this actually does is to camouflage the navigation as a design element, and thereby making it almost impossible for website users to find anything they need. The website navigation should always be clean, simple, easy to understand, and consistent throughout your site so that any website user can find the information they are looking for.
Professional web designers carry out this by using a clean, legible font and working with colors that are visible, interesting, and complimentary to the business brand. mission, and audience. A splash of neon in the menu bar may work very well for a younger audience, but it is less effective for older professionals. Designers also make sure that chosen colors will not inhibit a color blind person from using the navigation elements on the page for ADA compliance.
8- Too Much Visual Clutter
Another of our common small business website mistakes is also one of our most annoying! This is a major fault on many small business websites, and it often occurs because small business owners are not really sure what type of information should go on their website, and what belongs in their blog, email newsletter, or social media. Therefore they tend to put everything on their home page, which results in a visually overwhelming sense of clutter. Make sure your home page especially provides only the necessary, relevant information.
Your business website should offer evergreen business information, including your company mission, business location and hours of operation, the services you offer, and a few up-to-date samples and testimonials. And if you are not sure what your website visitors are expecting to find, take a look at your competitors websites. An easy way to avoid making small business website mistakes is by not putting any information on your website unless your competitors include it on their websites!
9 – No Call To Action (CTA)
One of the more serious small business website mistakes is not having an effective call to action. Once your customers arrive on your website they expect you to tell them what to do next. Studies have repeatedly shown that websites with a call to action button or column are more successful at converting site visitors than those that do not have a CTA.
Keep in mind that an effective call to action does not necessarily be sales oriented. Especially at the beginning of the conversion journey a simple invitation to subscribe to your newsletter or download a free e-book or white paper are generally much more effective. You are ready to sell, but your customer would like to find out a bit more about you first!
10 – Hiding Your Contact Information
Hiding your contact info pretty much tells your website visitors that you don’t want to hear from them! This is another example of common small business website mistakes, and it absolutely baffles us! Why on earth would any business want to hide their contact info? Don’t you want existing and new customers to contact you easily? We guess maybe you just don’t want any business …
In reality new and repeat customers alike visit your business website to find your current hours and other relevant contact information. If you hide this information, you make it very difficult for customers to find out when you are open and how to reach you. In a worst-case scenario you will lose business if potential customers find your direct competitors contact info instead of yours!
To make it easy for all your customers to contact you, make sure that your business website has a contact page with your contact info clearly listed. Also consider putting your contact info in the footer of every page as this also boosts your local SEO!
11 – Not Having Optimized Web Hosting
Another of the most common small business website mistakes is not having secure and optimized website hosting and support. Once again, I understand your reasoning; cheap hosting seems like the ideal solution for your small business website. Except it really isn’t! Why is that?
Cheap website hosting means that your website lives on the same server as hundreds or even thousands of other small websites. That puts a tremendous strain on the server, which in turn slows down your website, or even crashes it! And in order to provide such cheap website hosting the service provider is not going to provide much in the way of service. So if you have a problem you may not be able to get help.
There are different types of website hosting that you can consider. I outlined some of them in this comparison of different website hosting options. If you have specific requirements for your own small business website you must include them in your considerations, or expect problems later.
12 – Not Focusing on Website Security
You want to know why so many small business web sites get hacked or otherwise compromised? It is because they most often lack any sort of website protection! And that is one of the most serious small business website mistakes you can make. Take it from me; sooner or later someone will try to hack your site! Maybe it’s simply a hacker who wants to prove they can do it. Most often it will be to either steal confidential information, or take down your site for ransom.
Fortunately website security measures can easily be added to any website. I recommend that you install a Secure Socket Layer Certificate (SSL) to start. Many reliable and trustworthy website hosting providers offer website security. There are also a number of security plugins and services that will not only protect your website, but also monitor it on an ongoing basis so you can sleep at night. Here are a few other website security considerations for you.
13 – Not having a Website Maintenance Plan
The last on my list of common small business website mistakes is not having a website maintenance plan. Most small business owners mistakenly believe that they are done when their website launches. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth! At a minimum you need to understand that as website technology advances your small business website will need regular updates as well.
But there is more to having a website maintenance plan than simply keeping your site updated. By making regular backups of your website, database, content, themes, templates and plugins you can quickly restore your website just in case your site ever does get compromised. Keep in mind that the cost or rebuilding a hacked site can be significantly higher than even a whole year of maintenance fees.
Avoiding Small Business Website Mistakes
Now that you have a better understanding of the most common small business website mistakes you can start avoiding them. We always recommend starting with what we call the “low-hanging fruit” first. Identify the single most important issue affecting your small business website and tackle it first.
- Don’t know who your ideal client is? Find out first!
- Found errors in your content? Have a professional proofread and edit it for you.
- Is your contact info missing or outdated? Add and update it as needed.
- Need a fresh design to comply with the Google Mobile Update? Better get professional web design help right away!
- Need better web hosting or improved site speed? Move to a better hosting solution!
Need Help Eliminating Small Business Website Mistakes?
If you are not sure how to fix these small business website mistakes yourself you will need to find someone to help you. And there are a variety of options for you. Perhaps you already know a web designer or professional web design agency. Maybe one of your business associates can make a recommendation. Or you can look at some recommendations from review sites like Clutch, UpCity or Expertise. A word of caution, be careful if you use local notice boards such as Craigslist as postings on these platforms are not verified.
And if you are still not sure about how to fix small business website mistakes don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and find the best way for your business to get the online presence you need. That is one of our specialties, after all!
Did You Fix Small Business Website Mistakes on Your Site?
So, did you eliminate any of the above shortcomings and obstacles to your online success? Which ones were the most critical, and how did you fix them? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!
We appreciate your help in eliminating bad business websites, one pixel at a time! Thank you!
By Gregor Schmidt
Co-Founder / CXO