In today’s digital age, not having an updated or user-friendly website can be the Achilles heel of your business. Most business owners find it a daunting task to create and manage a successful website, so here are seven common pitfalls to be sure to avoid.
1. Choosing the wrong designer – Prior to starting or redesigning your website, make sure you choose the right person to help you create your new online presence. Some designers are great at laying out a really pretty site; however, they may not have a true understanding of how the site needs to function once it is laid out. Hire someone who has a thorough understanding of design, functionality and upkeep on the site in order to maximize your investment. If they don’t understand basic online content strategy or SEO—and offer those services as part of the design—they might not be the best fit for your project.
2. Paying way too much or too little for a new site – Just as with every industry, there is a wide variation on how much a new website can cost. Before cutting a check, do some research on sites you like and get a number of quotes from reputable vendors. Depending on functionality, good website design can start at $1,500 and go up to $100,000. Be realistic with your budget and wary of service providers who seem too good to be true.
3. Not having a strategy behind your content – Once you’ve worked with your designer to develop a sitemap, the next step is to create a strategy behind what content will live on your site. Original content that includes search-friendly keywords, strong headlines, specific calls to action and unique graphics or videos is essential when creating a website that will drive ROI.
4. No baseline SEO package – While a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign can be time consuming and complex, there are some basic SEO elements that all websites should have. Work with your designer to ensure that, at a minimum, your site includes unique title tags on each page, meta description tags, heading tags, interlinking, unique key words, Google Analytics and the correct SEO plug-in for the platform on which your website is built.
5. Not being mobile friendly – According to a number of recent studies, more than 25% of ALL Web traffic is coming from mobile devices. If that’s not enough of a reason to jump on the mobile-friendly bandwagon, consider this: Starting April 21, 2015, Google will be changing its algorithm to reward the websites that are mobile friendly with better positioning in their online search results. Bottom line: If you want to rank, have a mobile-friendly website.
6. Forgetting the social media – If website content is a fire, then social media is the gasoline. Together, social media and your website should consistently work together to promote your business. Determine what social media sites will work best to drive interest in your organization and then create a strategy so that both communication channels tell your brand’s story. Keep in mind that if you are going to promote your social media pages on your website, they need to be updated regularly.
7. Having a “Set it and forget it” mentality – So you’ve launched your website and it looks great. You’re done, right? Wrong! Launching or redesigning a site is just the beginning of a fruitful online presence. Keeping the site fresh with relevant content, updates on what is happening with your business and useful information are essential to maximizing your investment and keeping customers engaged with your brand. Work with your marketing team to have a plan in place on how and when you’ll be keeping your site relevant.