There are many reasons why a website may not be performing as well as expected, especially if the website has not had an update for a very long time. This article dives into potential reasons why your website might suck.
Reason #1 – Not Mobile Friendly
If you built your website back in 2001 and haven’t updated it since then, chances are very high that your website does not perform well on mobile devices such as smartphones. Websites need to be built with a “mobile first” view in order to take advantage of the overwhelming number of searches and internet use that is performed in a mobile environment. Consumers have their cell phones with them 24/7, and they are using their phones to search for everything from hair salons to financial advice. If your website is not mobile friendly chances are it will not come up for these mobile searches.
So what’s the solution? Move your site onto a platform that can render your website in a responsive environment. Yes, I know. You’re thinking, “It might be simple for you”, but in reality there are easy to use and easy to understand content management systems, such as WordPress, that have this functionality built in. These systems aren’t too difficult to set up and manage. You can have a very professional looking custom designed website that you yourself, or someone in your employ, can work with.
If you are still thinking, “Well, I’m too busy for that”, there are web design firms and digital marketing companies that can help, CloverLabs being one of them. We can help companies of all sizes rebuild their websites in WordPress, so that they not only look refreshed and professional, but also provide assistance and training to staff to help keep them updated and SEO optimized. Want to know more? Just contact us and let’s talk about your unique website needs.
Reason #2 – Thin or Lacking Content
This one is my own personal soapbox. Companies that launch a site with little to no content, and still expect some sort of value or customer engagement are living in a fantasy world. Why should any consumer, no matter what your industry or target market, be happy with you not providing them with enough information to make an informed decision? You wouldn’t send out a blank email or postcard to a potential lead, so then why would you have a website that doesn’t have the necessary content?
Your customers are looking to you to be the subject matter expert. They need to feel that they can trust you and that you are going to fulfill their needs. Online you are faced with potentially hundreds, if not thousands of other businesses that are competing with you for your business. You need to be that expert. So whether you knuckle down and write that content yourself, or pay someone else to do it, you must get useful, relevant and well written content on your service or product pages if you hope to make a splash in the sea that is the Internet.
Are you thinking, “I hate writing,” or, “I can’t write my way out of a paper bag,”? I get it, I understand. Most of us aren’t born with a talent for writing. We may know our business like the back of our hand, but crafting content that can convert, that’s a much different animal. My advice, hire a copywriter that has knowledge in your industry. There are many resources out there to find writers who write well and who have the best SEO practices in mind. It would be well worth the investment to hire these folks to write content for you that will engage your consumers, help them convert, and if the stars align, get you to rank above your competitors in search engine result pages.
At CloverLabs we work with experienced writers who know how to create well crafted content that will resonate with your consumers, help them understand your unique value proposition, and create trust that your company is the best choice in fulfilling their current and future needs.
Reason #3 – A Broken User Experience
So, you’ve checked off box one and two, you’ve got a responsive site filled with awesome content, cool. Now, how’s the user experience? Do you bring them in for the kill only to lead them to a page that’s not there? Ouch. That’s not good. The last thing you want is to have all that hard work put to waste because somewhere, somehow a page was moved and not properly redirected.
You may be thinking, “But what… how… I didn’t do anything wrong?” Well, let’s back up a few steps. Picture yourself, thinking, “I don’t like the name of this page. It’s called “Red Widgets with a White Stripe”. Its URL just so happened to be http://www.example.com/products/red-widgets-white-stripe/. You’ve decided they aren’t so much red as they are magenta. So, you take it upon yourself to change the page name. Well, guess what, that likely just changed the URL as well (depending on the CMS you are using). So, now your new URL is http://www.example.com/products/magenta-widgets-white-stripe. This is where the problems start. There’s a good chance that your internal navigation understands that now the old page is the new page, but, what about body links, or promotions you’ve done in the past with that old URL? How does any other resource know that you’ve moved the page? To be blunt, they have no clue.
Imagine that you’ve lived at 123 Main St. pretty much your whole life, then you move to 5555 North Mission Dr., and you didn’t tell the Post Office to forward your mail. Think of how much mail you now have going to your old address that you will never see. This is why you can’t just up and move without telling someone, and in this case it’s your consumers, (well, really, the search engines).
A published website has an important job of keeping its content easy to find, and providing a “forwarding address” of any content that moves. You do not want to frustrate your visitors by showing them “404 not found” pages. This is a terrible experience that no one wants. You will lose both customers and potentially web traffic because of it.
The solution is so easy for us who live and breathe this stuff, all you have to do is provide a “Change of Address” form for your content. This is done through the strategic implementation of redirect directives on your server that lead the user to the right version of your page. The ideal solution is 301 redirecting your old page to your new page. Yes, I just threw a web technical term your way, but let me explain. A 301 redirect is simply a directive that tells any visit to the site to understand that the old page has permanently moved to the new page. Why is this important? Well, with a 301 redirect you not only tell all that will listen that you’ve moved and you’re never going back to that poor little place you called home before, but also, to please take any equity you had and put it there instead. So ideally, if this page used to rank really well for certain terms, this new page should carry on the noble job of ranking just as well.
At CloverLabs we keep a diligent watch on our client’s website health. When we detect site errors we zero in on their cause and put in place solutions that keep things humming along as they should. Bottomline, we prevent your website from breaking in critical ways so that your consumers can always get to the content they expect, so that you can continue to get the performance you need to achieve your bottomline.
Reason #4 – Slow Page Load Speed
No one has time for a page that takes forever to load (forever in Internet speak is 10 seconds or more). If your site is bogged down with too many images, redirects, or bloated code that isn’t properly optimized, you could be losing your visitors before the page has even had a chance to show people just how awesome your company is. Ideally, your web pages should be fully loaded in just two seconds or less. So, how does one achieve this lighting fast goal? Glad you asked.
Through the use of some web development best practices it is possible to greatly improve page speed. A few of these techniques include:
- Reducing the number of redirects it takes to render the correct version of the page
- Leveraging browser caching
- Optimizing your images
- Using a content distribution network (CDN)
If you are thinking to yourself, “that sounds like too much work,” or, “can it really be that important?”, yes, yes it is that important, and the work involved is really all about building a site right the first time. Don’t believe me? How about a third-party article to back me up:
“79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.”
Yikes, you don’t want that to be you, but don’t fret, there is help available. If you have a dedicated web developer they likely can put the needed optimizations in place. If your website is built on WordPress there’s a whole host of page speed plug-ins that can get the job done pretty well. They may not tick off all the buttons, but, they will get you closer to where you should be. At CloverLabs we can help analyze and recommend the best solutions for your page speed improvements.
Now, these are just a handful of reasons why your website might suck, but I think we’ve covered what are in my opinion some of the most important ones. Just to recap:
- Make sure your site is responsive and mobile friendly
- Have content on your most important pages
- Avoid sending people to broken pages
- Make sure your pages load in two seconds or less
Well, agreed, it is work, but it is also work that is worthwhile and worth the potential boost to your bottom line.
Passionate about digital marketing and helping small businesses succeed online, Shannon has over 15 years of online marketing experience. She loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them become better marketers.