Geeks Chicago Technology News
Caught up in the excitement of launching your new business, it is tempting to slap together a website and hit publish before giving the overall strategy the serious thought and planning required. On the Internet, you literally have only a few seconds to make the right first impression with visitors. Additionally, making the wrong choices can generate stiff penalties from Google that are often difficult to recover from. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make with their websites:
One of the most costly mistakes small business owners make is at the very beginning when they choose a platform that does not fit their needs. Hosted platforms, such as Etsy or WordPress, are easier to launch but more difficult to personalize and control than a custom installation. You need a platform that is equipped with the modern functions that your customers need. Professionally designed and supported websites are also able to evolve as new technology hits the market and your business grows.
Building a website that is equipped with responsive design is essential to attracting customers and Google's interest. This technology automatically recognizes whether a visitor is using a desktop, tablet or smartphone and optimizes the layout of the content for the specific device. Mobile surfing is so important that Google's ranking algorithm now penalizes websites that are not mobile friendly.
Building the best website for your business is an ongoing process that requires regular analysis, ongoing maintenance and occasional updating. You cannot simply throw content up and never look at it again. Search engine crawlers trawl the Internet daily looking for the freshest ideas. Websites that update content at least twice each week are often rewarded with higher page rankings.
You also need to personalize your website to stand out from competitors and gain buy-in from consumers. While it is important to know what your competitors are doing, don't imitate them. Your website needs to reflect your personality and your story. The most effective websites are able to identify the customers' problem and clearly explain how its products or services are the best solution without coming across as a spammy salesman.
Customers are more likely to choose your company when your website offers vivid, energetic, compelling descriptions. Even when you are selling brand name merchandise, you cannot simply copy the generic product descriptions, dimensions and photos and then post them onto your pages. This plagiaristic practice earns heavy penalties in the search engine rankings.
The most engaging websites are designed to lead visitors on a logical, coherent journey. Curious visitors are fickle because they know they can always find the right information on the next website. Search engine results and backlinks should lead directly to where the visitor expects to land. Phone numbers and email addresses should be prominent on every page. The home page should serve as a simple welcome and table of contents that directs visitors to other pages. Your brand image and company vision should resonate throughout the entire website.
Many small business owners believe the website is the cornerstone of their marketing plan, but launching a website does not mean the customers will automatically come. You must develop a plan that lets people know that your website exists and generates continuous traffic. Not every social media outlet works for every industry, so you need to invest some time in identifying where your target audience hangs out and what type of content they respond to. Focus on three to five strategies that make sense for your business. You can write informative blogs, post products on Pinterest, add Pay Per Click (PPC) ads to your website or focus on building your backlinks.
Google recognizes that the most valuable websites provide informative content. SEO sounds scary to new business owners, but as Google notes, "Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website." Much of the work takes place on the backend. When building your website, make sure each page has a unique title, each post has a strong META description, the overall structure is easy to navigate and the content is optimized with the strongest keywords.
When creating content, you should naturally incorporate the keyword or phrase, but you must also be mindful of how often it is used. If you do not include the buzzword enough times, then web crawlers cannot recognize the relevancy of the content. If it is overused, then you will earn penalties for keyword stuffing. A keyword planning tool helps you identify the most commonly searched phrasing for a topic and provides ideas for alternative phrasing so that you can diversify the wording in your content.
Having people find your website is simply not enough. Word of mouth references have always been the most effective way to build a loyal customer base. Not having social media sharing buttons on your website means you are losing valuable opportunities to capture endorsements for your products or services. Social presence is another factor in Google's ranking algorithm, so frequently shared content often rises to the top pages.