5 Mistakes Small Business Owners Typically Make with their Web Sites

We see a lot of web sites as a web design company. It’s part of the job. It should be part of the job for any web design company, actually. If we’re not doing the research on the competition, or learning what really makes a web site effective by keeping up with the best practices, then we’re going to be left in the dust.

Thankfully, that’s not us, and it shouldn’t be you. As a small business owner, you might be in the position where you have to build and maintain your own web site. That’s a challenge for most, and while we’ve seen some respectable work from the part-time small business owner / part-time webmaster, most of them fall short on the “Web Site Management 101” score card.

We’ve seen some mistakes that seem to run throughout small business web sites that can easily be remedied, and we’re going to tell you what they are. We’ll explain why they can be hurting your web site and your business, and how to fix them. If you’re just starting out with your web site, then you’re in a great position to avoid these mistakes from the get-go.

This article is for the business owners who think of their web site as an online brochure that can’t do anything for them. In reality, it can (and is supposed to) do so much more! Let’s begin:

Poor Domain and File Naming

If your web site sits on a bad domain, then you could be losing out on a lot of traffic. Not only are you missing out on a lot of type-in traffic (too long, confusing, hard to spell, unmemorable), you could also be missing out on search traffic too (for example, key words in your domain that are off-topic or don’t explain your business.) The actual keywords in your domain name can affect your rankings in search, and while they won’t make or break a web site, choosing your domain should require sufficient consideration. Read about finding the right domain name here

In addition, the filenames of your pages on your web site should also contain either the keywords or topic that the page is about. We’ve seen a lot of web sites with pages named page1.html, index2.html, and so on. Those file names don’t really describe anything, do they? (Imagine finding a file on your own computer if all of them were named ‘file’) You have a lot more freedom here as opposed to your domain name, so be liberal when naming your files. A page about your computer power supplies should be named computer-power-supplies.html! A page about over mitts should be, you guessed it, some variation of oven-mitts.html. (Keep in mind html is the default file extension, and yours may vary.)

Poor Use of Title Tags for your web pages

The title tag is the portion of a web page that displays at the very top of any browser window. This title tag is also the portion of the web page that is prominent in search engines results. Looking at the example below, you see the highlighted portion is our title tag for the corresponding web page. (We’ve recently relaunched our website so this image may not be accurate.)

Whether you know some web programming, or use software to build your web site, you should be able to change your title tag easily. Knowing how important your title tags are, they should not say “Home” or “Welcome to our Site!” or anything of the sort because it’s not giving people a reason to click through.

In addition, search engines consider it an important factor of what makes up your web page. Make each title tag unique for every page of your web site, and make it descriptive and informative. Give a search user a reason to click through to your page, and let search engines know what that page is about!

No Updated Content

Imagine you go to a web site and you’re ready to buy whatever they’re selling. You scroll down a bit, and see that their web site hasn’t been updated since 2003. They could be a great company, but you can’t tell if they’re out of business or if they’ve moved to another state.

Most small business owners make this mistake because they think of a web site as an online brochure. “Just set-it, and forget it!” doesn’t work with business web sites. Not only is relative and helpful new content great for your visitors, it also attracts traffic because search engines love new content. It’s plain and simple. Content is the food that search engines eat! While there is a lot that goes into great content creation, it’s better to have to keep adding pages over nothing at all.

No Goals or Calls to Action

This is another problem that stems from the “my web site is just a boring online brochure” mentality. We’ve seen a lot of small business web sites that are nothing but descriptive paragraphs and pages. Great, but now what? Are you leading your user to commit to an action like contacting you “Now!”? If the fundamental goal of your web site is to have a user fill out a form, then why isn’t every page on your site directing users to that form?

It can be as simple as adding “Contact Us at 555-5555 Today! We offer a Free Wallet with each New Account!” to the bottom of every page. Call your visitors to action! Get them to commit to something! They want to be directed after reading what your company or product is about. Don’t make them think!

Lack of Trustworthy Content and Pages

Each year, people and businesses buy more and more online. Say you’re comparing two web sites to make your purchase. They offer the exact same product, but you end up buying from the more expensive web site. Why does that happen? Right before a person makes a buying decision online, they have to have enough trust in the company to follow through. While you could have bought the product from the cheaper web site, you didn’t like the fact that they had no easily accessible contact information, employee profiles, or testimonials on their site. It’s a matter of trust!

Add elements to your web site that will give people that warm, fuzzy feeling about your company. You can add references, testimonials, or even a “Call Us Now If You Have Any Questions about this product!” button to every page. The more transparent and trustworthy your business appears online, the more likely people are to buy.

There you have it. 5 Common Mistakes that should take no time at all to fix. Make your web site work for you at every possible avenue!

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2 Responses to “5 Mistakes Small Business Owners Typically Make with their Web Sites”

  1. Robert Shycon Says:

    Dear Mr. Franek,

    Very good article, with helpful specific tips.

    I am wondering how Shycon Design got its name, as Shycon is also my last name.

  2. Shycon Design Colorado Says:

    Glad you liked the article. The name comes from a former pet whose disappearance has still remained unsolved! We wish there was a cooler story behind the name, but there isn’t. (And as far as I know, you’re the first real “Shycon” that we know :))