I hate to think about the amount of websites I see on a day to day basis, through research, work and just messing around looking at things that are probably not doing my productivity much good (Twitter and Facebook before you read too much into that). Many of the small business websites I see I can tell pretty much straight away that they are going to be doing at least one of the following things that in my opinion are mistakes with their online strategy.
1. They have tried to do everything for free. I do understand that people want to try and keep their costs down to a minimum but if you are selling your services to someone do you really want your website screaming “I’m a cheapskate!”? Probably not. In a majority of cases a free website can look very nice, but they have their downfalls which could be costing you money.
2. Company and corporate website that have Adverts all over the place. People think that there are ways of getting great revenue from their business website through having adverts plastered all over the place, unless your website is an information only website then you probably want to steer clear of this tactic. Every now and again someone who knows what they are doing with adwords and adsense can come along and plaster your site with adverts for your competitor. That isn’t going to look good now is it?
3. Not telling those that can send you traffic that you exist. Google, Bing and Yahoo all offer their own versions of Webmaster Tools for you to announce your sitemaps (I know not all of you know what this is and there will be more information to follow on it soon I promise) In many cases I see websites every single day that haven’t bothered doing this. Effectively you are not telling the world that you exist and your website has the content it does. You can still be found if you know how to do it (or just happen to stumble upon it by mistake) but you need to be announcing everything you do.
4. Forgetting your customers might actually be just around the corner. Local search is where you claim your own business listing with Google and Bing. Yes if you have a business phone number you will have a listing on the search engines that you might not even be aware of. The thing to remember with it is Local listings are FAR from perfect you can actually be posted in the wrong pin position on the map, you might have problems claiming your business but you need to do it no matter what. Not doing it could mean that your competitors are jumping in front of you without even trying.
5. The “Field of Dreams” Marketing Method. Many people believe it is their given right as soon as they have a website that they are entitled to get traffic to that website. Afraid to be the one to tell the bad news but “If you build it they will come!” is wishful thinking. Get out there talk about your website, build links, make sure you have done the basics and just remember to be nice, you never know who your next client or customer might be. Make sure you manage your online reputation, if someone writes a review about your business you can respond if it is nice or not, if you handle complaints in public do it carefully don’t are your dirty laundry online. If you get a good review thank the reviewer, chances are you will get a repeat customer from them. (Even though I understand the wedding industry aims NOT to have repeat customers….)
So get out there and talk about your business and your website. 2011 Is seeing that brand, social footprint and site authority are becoming more and more important in the search rankings. Don’t get left behind and make sure you keep up to date with the essentials you need in order to keep one step ahead of your competitors. Manage your site and your reputation in every way possible and keep on top of what others are doing.