I was chatting to a colleague recently who works for a digital agency and he admitted feeling rather guilty when he sent out a client website review which had cost quite a lot. As far as he was concerned the advice was just pure common sense. However I understand that as a busy business owner you can so easily relegate the website to your web person and forget that it is your shop window. I recommend that the first person you need to test your site with is your intended customer.
I’ve reviewed a few colleagues’ websites recently and what amazes me is that so many times I see the same common mistakes. Here are some I’ve seen which may help you in reviewing your own site:
Think global, act local
Don’t assume that everyone is visiting from the UK – so many sites I see have a telephone number without a UK dialling code. If you have traffic from overseas make it easy for them to reach you by offering a Skype telephone number or a call back service. Make it clear when your business is open for calls with stated timezone and time difference to GMT.
This advice also extends to sizes – don’t assume everyone uses the same measuring systems – ensure if you feature clothes and shoes that you have relevant sizes for each market.
Careful use of telephone numbers
I’ve seen sites which post a mobile telephone number as their main contact number. Having a mobile telephone number does not build trust, especially if there is no physical business address featured. You can order 0844 and 0845 telephone numbers that you can direct to any telephone number at no cost. Also imagine what would happen to your business if you lost your mobile phone or had it stolen, to motivate you to do something about this issue.
I had a client recently who could not understand why they were not getting any response to their press advertising. I pointed out that potential customers were unlikely to want to pay for an 0870 call if they were going to be spending a considerable sum of money.
Measure your traffic
Make sure your site is set up with the a free Analytics tool. Google’s can be found at www.google.co.uk/analytics and review your web traffic. You can also go to www.alexa.com to get a quick review of where your web traffic is coming from and also have a look at your competitor sites aswell.
Minimising red cross syndrome
Regularly review your site to make sure all your images are loading properly – I’ve seen quite a few sites recently where the images have been moved and the incorrect link means that you see a page of empty boxes with little red crosses.
Review your web logs and make sure you do not have any 404 – not found error messages where the page link does not work. Make it easy for your customers to send you some feedback on your site and ask that all important question “How did you hear about us?” and provide a link to report any page errors.
Different titles for each page
I see a lot of sites where a title has not been created for each page which helps the search engines to find them. If you are featuring a page with your range of winter overcoats in wool – then make sure your webpage has a title which uses those words which help the user to find these items. Web agencies often call these specific pages “deep links” and they are invaluable when creating your pay per click campaigns so that your web visitor can go direct to the item they are interested in. There’s nothing worse than being directed to a home page and then having to find the specific product you are most interested in – take your customers straight to that page whenever possible.
The importance of “longtail keyword searches”
Make sure that your pay per click campaigns are not just focused on a few keywords. Recent research has shown that many customers use 4 or more words in their keyword searches which are called “longtail searches”. So if for example you are a spa hotel in Bath make sure you use long tail combinations which may often be cheaper and get you more relevant traffic from the search engines eg. Bath+Hotels +spa +weekend+break or Bath+Hotel+spa+romantic+weekend.
Whilst the above are by no means a complete list of common web mistakes they will hopefully prompt some quick website reviews to fix the “no brainers” that we are often too busy to spot.