Your web site is the starting point for all of your online marketing efforts. It is your sales person, the face and voice of your company. It is the potential customer’s starting point for researching your business, for finding out how to contact you, and can even be used to make sales. Just as it wouldn’t matter how much effort you pour into traditional marketing efforts if your sales people can’t close the deal, or your customer service isn’t good. It doesn’t matter how much money you pour into your online advertising efforts, or how much time and effort you put into carefully crafted social media campaigns if your web site doesn’t do its job. Here are the top 5 mistakes businesses make in their web site design and how to make sure your business isn’t one of them:
1. Bad URL
The URL is a universal resource locator. You can think of it as the internet equivalent of a street address. Much like the post office has trouble delivering your mail if your home address isn’t readable or if the standard conventions aren’t followed, the same thing is true about your url. Many site designers like to use flash or php or ajax to make the site pretty or add dynamic functionality to it. The problem is that search engines like Google can’t read pages that have # or ? as part of the title. In fact, it won’t even read past the point where it reaches a ? or a # sign. Therefore, the page never gets included in its list of addresses to deliver mail to and your site’s page never gets any visitors.
2. No Meta Title
Meta Titles are buried in the html code for your web pages, and they tell search engines, and the people using them, what to expect when they click on your link. Each and every page needs a title that is unique. The maximum number of characters to use for each page is 60. The meta title does not have to match the main title of your page. It should read like the headline of an advertisement, because that’s exactly how it will appear when a user searches using those keywords.
3. No Meta Description
If the meta title forms the headline of your online advertisement, the description is what you use to sell the user on the content. Google will create it for you if you don’t create it for yourself, but this is likely to make for some unappealing and very dry reading with no clear call to action. It’s best for you to create this yourself so that you can include just the right wording to get users onto your page and into your website.
4. Too hard to navigate
Imagine if you walked into a store and couldn’t find the product you wanted. Now, because you took the time to drive to that store and because you don’t want to waste gas driving to another store, you might spend a little time hunting. You might browse the aisles, especially if it’s a product you really want or you have a bit of time on your hands. However, eventually you’ll leave if you don’t find what you are looking for. You’ll leave even more quickly if you can’t find a sales associate to help you. Your web site has even less time than a retail store to convince a potential buyer that you have what they need or want. Put the stuff customers want to know right up in front. Make it easy for them to find the prices, the products and services you offer, and the research they need to choose your company over your competition in easy reach.
5. No Contact Information
When it comes to doing business online, you don’t have the luxury of a sales person who can put people at ease and earn their trust through conversation. Potential customers who are coming to you are gambling on you to have the knowledge, the skills, and the talent needed to deliver what you promise you will. They are being asked to take a leap of faith that the money they spend will produce the results they hope, and all they have to base their decision on is your web site. This is why it is absolutely crucial that you provide them contact information on every page. No, a form that emails someone isn’t enough. They need a NAP – they need a name, address, and phone number. Those three things are also crucial to search engines trying to index your site and determine whether or not you are a credible source.