Owning a website in 2021 is more complicated and confusing than ever been before. With ever-changing industry trends, constant security threats and online competition becoming increasingly fierce, it can be hard for even the most diligent website owner to keep their website generating the sales and leads they need.
Here are six mistakes you can avoid so more of your happy users become happy customers.
#1 Driving traffic to sources other than your website.
You’re always going to be posting on some social media platform encouraging your followers to look at this image or that share. Sharing tips, tricks, musings and photos with your followers is an important part of your social media strategy. However, it’s important that your larger, original content lives on your website. Use snippets as teasers on social media to drive users to your website for the whole enchilada.
Keeping content on your website first is not only a great way to keep people coming to your website (and one step closer to becoming a happy customer,) but it’s also helpful for your page rank in search engines. The more time users spend on your website reading articles or watching videos will demonstrate to Google that your website has content that users find valuable. This is gold for search engines, as they only want to serve up the best content to their searchers.
In addition, if you keep all of your content on these social media platforms, you could lose it when that platform loses popularity and shuts down. If your demographic no longer uses that platform, nobody will see your content.
#2 Not putting the needs of your visitors first.
Gone are the days when just having a website was enough. In the same way that having a phone number doesn’t guarantee people are going to call it, just having a website doesn’t mean you will get traffic, nor that it will mean instant sales.
In the old days, websites were little better than ads in your favourite yellow phone book. You could just buy a domain, put up a website, list your services, and you were set! Unfortunately, this mindset still prevails, and these days, it is one that can limit your sales and leads potential.
The way consumers buy has changed. The majority of people want to do their pre-purchase research online and only want to reach out when they’re ready to buy. If your website doesn’t give users the information they need to make a purchase decision, they’ll happily click that big ole BACK button and visit your competition instead.
Most people don’t visit most websites for fun. In many cases, they have a pain point and have come to your website because they are looking for somebody to solve their problem. In reality, you have built your website for your potential customers, so it makes sense to put their needs first.
Tips: Do some brainstorming about who your clients are and what their needs are. List their worries, concerns and hesitations. Think about your own expectations when you’re visiting other websites. What are you expecting as a consumer? How does that differ from, say, your mother? How about your friends or your kids? Likely, each of these people all shop differently, so it’s also important to consider how all people shop. With this information, you can tailor your website to meet most of your users’ needs.
When you consider the needs of your visitors and address them on the website, you’re not only creating a website that will remove the barriers that stop buyers from reaching out, but you’re providing a fabulous user experience, which begins to build a relationship between your user and your brand.
#3 Forgetting about screen readers and differently-abled users.
It’s important to remember that not all users are the same. Some are differently-abled and use screen readers and other devices and tools to aid them while visiting websites. This means your website needs to follow a certain set of rules so these users have a good user experience. This is called website accessibility.
It’s important, of course, that no potential customer is excluded from your website, but it’s also important from a search engine standpoint. Search engines are now using website accessibility as a ranking factor for search results. If Google is trying to return search results to a searcher and your website and another website have similar rank, if theirs is accessible and yours isn’t, chances are Google will show the other site higher in the list than yours.
As of January 2021, Ontario businesses must make their public-facing websites conformant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) to Level AA, as required by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). With more than 22% of the Canadian population experiencing a disability of some kind, the number of users visiting your website with an aid of some kind is higher than one may have expected. And with fines up to $50,000 per day, or $100,000 for corporations, website accessibility is something website owners need to take seriously.
In addition to these two very important reasons to ensure your website is accessible, the most important reason is that we don’t want anybody to feel excluded from our businesses, and we’ll want to take every effort to ensure all users can access your content.
#4 Mistaking traffic as a metric for success, not conversions.
It’s important to understand that while it can feel great to have a website that gets a lot of traffic, if that traffic isn’t converting, your website is not succeeding.
A conversion—a “successful” website visit—can be different for every website owner. For most, success means people buying a product/service, downloading a newsletter, scheduling a phone call or physically calling. A million people coming to your website every day sounds great, but if that traffic doesn’t convert, then success is still alluding you.
Get clear on what you consider a successful website visit and tailor the website to guide users in that direction.
#5 Spending money on ads and SEO without doing an analysis of your website first.
Google, Facebook and other platforms that sell ad space are more than happy to charge your credit card week after week, month after month regardless of whether you’re seeing any kind of return on that investment.
Many website owners, unhappy with the conversions they’re getting from their website look to the next logical step, which for many, is paying for ads or SEO, search engine optimization. However, for many websites, traffic isn’t the issue. It’s the website itself.
Before you budget for any kind of activity that will drive traffic to your website, it’s so important to ensure that your website has what users need to make a purchase decision. That can range from, as we discussed in #2, the website content, but you’ll also want to ensure that the design of the site is professional, that the website is not hacked, broken or throwing any errors, that it’s loading quickly and any number of factors that could create a poor user experience.
Not only is this a good way to drain your budget and grow your stress levels, but this can actually be damaging to your organic rank in search engines. If you are driving traffic to your website and 95% of them are hitting the back button, that tells Google that people aren’t finding what they want on your site, and your rank could drop.
#6 Validate your website and plans with a consultant.
If you’re unsure how to tell if your website is set up for success, it could be wise to hire a firm to review your website. Any firm worth its salt would be more than willing to provide this kind of consultation. Sure, it may cost you a few hours of their time, but it’s money well-spent if it ensures you’re on the right track.
If you’re hesitant to hire somebody because you’re worried they may give you a laundry list of things that need to be fixed, it may be hard to hear—especially if you built it yourself—however, it’s better to find out now so you can fix any little hiccups so you can move forward with a website that will perform the way you need it to, rather than cross your fingers and hope for the best.
In addition to the mistakes you want to avoid to improve your users’ experiences, there are also many simple changes you can make to your website to make it even more compelling. A better user experience reduces user friction and breeds trust which motivates your visitors to pick up the phone, download that pdf or put that product in the cart.