You're probably aware that Google gets over 600,000 daily searches for local services and that's likely leaving you wondering, "Where the heck are yours?" And if you're like most small business owners, you probably currently have a website but aren't satisfied with those traffic and leads generated. You might know you need to do something to increase you internet presence and reach more clients online and you're just trying to get from point A where you have little traffic and even less leads and create a simple-to-use site that Google and people love.
But it's not that simple, is it? Well today, we're going to make it a little bit easier and show you the top 10 small business web design mistakes and again how to avoid them.
The first one is hiring a web designer. The art and science of online marketing are very different when we look at aesthetics versus functionality and when you hire a web designer, search and usability are often lacking.
That just means that you can end up with a nice-looking hotel in the middle of the desert. By that, I mean most designers that go to design school and have that type of background are very good at aesthetics and looks and creativity but not so much in the science of finding the right keywords and doing the right things to make your sites search engine-friendly and ultimately a valuable tool for lead generation.
The second mistake is not implementing SEO basics and by that, we mean page titles which is using the most popular keywords on the title of every page on your site, ensuring that you incorporate those keywords and important places on your site meaning your articles, blogs, your service pages and everywhere in your site where you want to attract people. You need to use those keywords. And the last thing is just backlinks. Even though that's not a design element per se, I would like to sneak that in there because it's so important to list your business in the right places to get found by your clients.
The third mistake is not using a CMS or content management system and they're very - a handful of very effective ones being WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, are the most popular and they allow you to easily manage content yourself with little or no technical knowledge.
We only use and recommend WordPress and it's important to have a CMS there folks because lack of ability to access or log into your site is a reason why most small business owners don't have a successful site because they're disconnected from the site.
The fourth mistake that we see a lot is just failing to add content. Again, this ties into not having a friendly site or not seeing that it's important enough or making a priority out of adding content on a regular basis; and the result of this is that most websites are online brochures, just static, boring text information about you instead of about the needs of your clients. And we believe you should blog at lease once a week and you should address the needs of your audience, not yourself. Contrary to popular belief, outsourcing is better than not publishing at all because if the result is that you have four new blog posts a month that aren't ideal, at least if they're high quality, you're adding content that's going to attract search engines and people to your site which is the whole point. So doing this bears huge traffic and reputation benefits and it's important to add content frequently.
The fifth mistake we see is omitting local address information and what we mean by that is Google Places and other directories validate this. They look at your website and they try to match your online listings with your site itself to see if you're legitimate and you have to have your physical location and address entered the right way in your site and it should match those other searches, other sites where people are doing searches rather.
A lot of people don't know this but mobile search use is growing over 400 percent each year. So if you can imagine how important it is considering that you're a local business to show up when people are doing local mobile searches, you have to have that local information on your site. Doing this also builds trust and confidence with clients. They feel more comfortable if you're seen as a person of authority and you have local information everywhere on your site. The last thing you need to do is just make sure you list your address on the header or footer of every page; not just on your Contact Us page but list out local information on every page.
The sixth mistake we see is forgetting a strong call to action. So, this tells visitors what the next step is and how. So in a lot of sites, you will see a lot of great information but then a visitor just leaves and they go to another site when they finally make a purchase or engage a doctor or lawyer or dentist like yourself because you were not providing a clear path in telling them what to do next. You need to make it easy for clients to contact you.
So by using lead forms in multiple places on every page and even a traffic magnet like an ebook, a video or tip sheet, you're really making it easy to contact you. A lot of clients don't feel comfortable using contact forms or large phone numbers but you have to do that because if you think about your website as a filter and you're getting probably several thousand - for the average small business owner, 12,000, 15,000, 20,000 visitors a year coming to your site and it's all about how many of those are sticking and actually contacting you and becoming leads.
So if you do something like write an ebook or a quick video or even a tip sheet that they have to enter their name, phone number or email address to download, you're going to have a lot better results by using a traffic magnet.
Number seven is failing to engage clients. So really what this boils down to is that text is dead. Online attention span of people is about 15 seconds and we like to say at AttentionVideo.com that a picture is worth a thousand words but a video is worth a thousand clients. So you can imagine that a video would probably increase a time on website. It usually does but more importantly, it allows clients to get to know you right away.
So instead of looking at some boring text that they're going to glance at and they go to the next provider online, they're going to get to know you and get a feel for your style and see you as a provider of good services and authority in your area. You can almost use the internet as a virtual sales force, qualifying people instead of just have them come to a boring site and leave.
The eighth mistake we see is not tracking the results. Most business owners say they're just too busy to do this, which goes back to the e-myth and the popular (business management) books out there. They will tell you that you're in the business of marketing and selling products and services, not just providing them so you must track your search rankings, how many people are coming to your site, those of your visits and then the leads and clients in order to improve results. And considering that Google Analytics is free and easy to use, there's really not an excuse to not do this because you're probably wasting money each and every week or month by not tracking which of your expenditures are not producing a positive return on investment and cutting those out and it's important to test various methods and eliminate the lame ducks out there. That's the best way to get traction to your marketing is to test everything and throw out the underperformers. OK?
The ninth mistake is missing trust and social icons. So people place great value on reviews and peer validation meaning if you are going to order a pizza or get LASIK surgery or going on vacation at a lodge in Costa Rica, you're probably going to use Yelp!, Facebook and other review sites to evaluate your decisions, so everything from Amazon.com to restaurants to senior care and Caring.com. You're going to use reviews to place - as a form of wading out your potential options. It's really important to use social icons. They also build trust out there and finally with other elements like Better Business Bureau or trade association logos. These things all build trust with your market and show them that you're a trusted authority out there.
And the tenth and final mistake is using vanity domains. So when I say vanity domains, I mean just your name dot com and the truth is that Google and people value keyword-rich domains. So as I said, having a website like ClevelandBankruptcy.com would be much more effective than SteveJankinsLaw.com especially if you want a bankruptcy lawyer. So many names are still available. Use dot com and dot net only and it's important to do this because you're going to, again, show people that your website has the content they're looking for. They will get to know your name later. Branding is for large organizations but if your name is not Coca-Cola, you're better off going with a keyword-rich domain.
OK. The last thing I want to cover is questions to ask an online marketing firm. This is really important because now we've established that you have to have a CMS like WordPress. You have to deal with a firm that can help you market your site and design it with an eye for conversion and performance. We need to ask a couple of questions of these firms, prospective firms to see if they're a good fit for you.
The first thing is samples of work in your industry. Ask for references. If I'm a dentist in Chicago, I want to say, "Show me other dentist sites you've done and how they're ranking on Google." So example of client search results, "Dallas Mexican restaurant". As long as I'm not a chiropractor, that should be pretty impressive if a firm can produce those results and show them and demonstrate them to me.
And finally - not finally, but again is the site built on WordPress or some other CMS? It's so important to use a CMS because the next question is, "Can you log in and manage content?" and yourself updating and adding photos or blogs, et cetera.
If you think that someone is just going to design you a site that's going to work magic for you, you're mistaken. You have to have a vested interest and ownership of your marketing and quite frankly, be passionate about it because you're not going to invest the time required to master marketing and part of that is whoever you work with to help design and market your site, "Is there training and support provided?" Is it a one-time deliverable or are you going to establish a relationship with these folks? And if you know how to measure and evaluate return on investment, you should be willing to do that because a website is a living organism that needs to constantly be tweaked and improved and nurtured in order to produce the results that you want. Like anything good in life, it takes work, right?
And finally, are there any ongoing hosting or maintenance fees? That's really something that a lot of - especially dealing with a lot of attorneys, I see a lot of attorneys get burned with really high maintenance fees, 0, 0 or 00 or more dollars just for maintenance which there's no active marketing or advertising going on.
So really ask those questions. Take time to read the agreements and one more thing I wanted to bring up is just that to ask, "Do you own the domain and website properties?" because a lot of website companies have a leasing model because they're just trying to get more residual money out of companies. So they will not only charge you to customize or design a site but they actually own the IP that's associated in the creative assets and actually own your website. So you want to ask those questions.
Hopefully, you found this was helpful and I provided some good information to steer you on the right track on your marketing and hopefully you feel a little bit of relief knowing that if you avoid these top 10 mistakes, you will probably be better off when it comes to designing and maintaining your website. But if you need more info, we can direct you to a couple of resources that basically what we do at Geek-Free Marketing and Ninja Web Designs is we make websites that are friendly for you, obviously for your customers and for search engines. OK?
So search engines, you and your customers all love our sites because we always think about the three legs of the table, three legs that it takes to hold up the table and that is the foundation of a strong marketing platform. So you have to think about all three entities in everything that you do.
If your website isn't friendly for you, you're not going to invest time and use it. Obviously if it's not friendly for your clients, they're going to come there and bounce which means they leave without contacting you, if they ever find you at all; and in order for that to happen, you need to be friendly for search engines. So remember, those are the three legs of the online marketing table that you need to have when it comes to web design.
Feel free to contact us now if you want to learn more about our services. Thank you very much and I appreciate your time and if you want to get pointed in the right direction, Geek-Free Marketing, Attention Video and Ninja Web Designs are our brands.
Geek-Free Marketing provides online marketing, coaching and consulting for small business owners. Attention Video provides killer online videos that engage your audience so we can put those on your website and everywhere else in the web people are looking and help you actually rank those videos in search results. And finally, NinjaWebDesigns.com makes WordPress websites that rock.
Thank you and have a good day.