From the day you were born until the day you meet your maker, you will hear the word ‘no’ over and over again. But sometimes, this is just as useful as things that people give you the green light for. There are plenty of no-no’s when it comes to websites, but here are the top five strategic mistakes with your website.
#1 – Designing a website that search engines hate
Search engines like to be in the ‘know’. The more they know about your website, the better they can recommend qualified leads to your website. If you design your website using systems that make it hard for the search engines to read and understand your website, it not only hurts you it hurts the people searching for your services. You owe it to yourself to ensure you are designing a website that is using technology that is search engine friendly.
The typical offenders are the websites that opt for a really flashy, slick, animated design but use too many fancy elements for the search engines to read. Flash technology is notoriously bad for search engines, even if it is getting better. Trust us, the effort is not worth it. Some websites are built using content management systems that also make it difficult for search engines to follow. Know what you’re getting yourself into as it can be a costly mistake to live with as well as fix.
#2 – Making it an online brochure
Websites are no longer a glorified service list and consumers expect more from their online experience. Think about making your website more interactive, meaning getting your website visitors DOING things on your website – commenting, booking appointments, signing up to your email newsletter, liking things, rating things, answering polls, sharing information….you get the idea.
Also, websites are typically used primarily for attracting new clients, but a website should really be a hub for your online marketing program, meaning you should be thinking about ways to get your existing clients back to your website and wonder what they’d get out of this experience. Think about information that your clients would want at any point in their relationship with you – on their first, second, third or 100th appointment with you, or even before they set foot in your door – and then make that available to them.
#3 – Ignoring keyword research
When you’re designing your website and going through the process of ensuring your website content is optimized for search engines, make sure you’ve first done your due diligence on what keywords people are searching for. Use online tools like Soovle.com or the Google Keyword Tool to create a list of things people are searching for in your area. If you forget to focus on your keyword research in the beginning, the rest of your SEO efforts may be less than par.
#4 – Forgetting the local search directories
Local search engines are overtaking the traditional method of search engine optimization in many ways, so not maximizing this opportunity could see you towards the bottom of the list again. What good is that spiffy website if no one is finding it?! Think about the biggest search engines first – Google, Bing and/or Yahoo!. Please check for availability in your local region as these aren’t always available directly from the search engine.
Also, make sure you are monitoring your reviews online, which can be used by local search engines in ranking and filtering when prospective clients are looking for you. Think about review sites that integrate with the local search engines (like Yelp! and citysearch) and sites that have features that allow people to find you using their mobile phones.
#5 – Letting it go crusty
Finally, just because you’ve done a good job putting your website together and launching it doesn’t mean you can keep patting yourself on the back forever. Things change, updates are required, technology evolves. Make sure you are updating your website regularly and monitoring what your competitors are doing and what industry leaders are utilizing.