The Big Problem with Small Business Websites and How to Overcome Them!
Ouch, Small Business Website Mistakes Hurt!
Small business websites are a critical meeting point between small businesses and their increasingly mobile customers. Yet 46% of small businesses do not have a website at all! Maintaining an optimized site is crucial to acquiring new customers, building credibility and nurturing client relationships.
Almost 1/3 of small business owners maintain their websites themselves, neglecting key site functions that consumers want, like responsive and user-friendly design, engaging and relevant fresh content, and social network integration. Let’s take a look at the big problem with small business websites, including costly mistakes small-business owners make when they try to maintain their own websites.
We work with a lot of small-business owners and look at a wide variety of small business websites every day. And don’t get me wrong; we have seen some awesome small business websites, bravo! But unfortunately all too often we come across small business websites that range from lacking a few key elements to being barely functional at all.
In order to help small business owners understand exactly what is hurting small business websites the most here are the most common errors we see, how they hurt small businesses, and what you can do to fix them.
8 Common Problems with Small Business Websites
1. Not Mobile-First
in 2019 a responsive, mobile-first website is absolutely essential for any business! Not only do your mobile visitors expect this, but it is a Google requirement since the Google Mobile-Friendly Update of April 2015! According to Comscore as of March 2015 the number of mobile-only users exceeds the number of desktop users in the U.S.
Only 12 months earlier the number of desktop users was twice that of mobile-only users! Yet 60% of all small-business owners do not have a mobile friendly website, or know if their website is responsive and mobile capable. Without the technology to engage their mobile visitors many small businesses are missing out on key consumers. And the only way to fix that problem is with responsive web design.
2. Poor Design
The cost of designing their small business website is a major concern for many small-business owners. As a result many of them take shortcuts like using a free template or hosted solution like Wix or Weebly. Most often that leads to poor design that detracts from the message business owners need to convey. Here are some common small business website errors to avoid.
Visitors who have a bad user experience will not stay and engage with a business through the website. Even worse, they most likely will tell their friends about the bad experience and keep them away as well. Yes, you will save a few dollars up front, but you will lose a lot more in missed opportunities for lead generation and lost sales in the long run!
3. No Call To Action (CTA)
This is a frequent side effect of bad web design. Without a main call to action (CTA) your customers won’t know why they are visiting your website or what your company has to offer. Even worse, 93% of small business websites do not display a contact email addresses, and 49% do not list any phone numbers on their home page.
If you are not providing visitors with a reason for visiting your site or an easy way to contact you they will move on to your competitors. Remember, it is up to you to tell your potential customers what you want them to do! No, you are not being rude! Your website visitors expect you to do so. Because if you don’t they will get the feeling you don’t really care about them. And you don’t want that, do you?
4. No Metrics
Without performance metrics small businesses are unable to track their progress, their organic or paid reach, or their customer’s habits and needs. A whopping 75% do not use analytics tools like Google Analytics to measure their small business website’s performance. And 60% do not feel they have the tools needed to make sense of their site’s analytics or take action to resolve issues. And unresolved issues only become worse over time.
Many website analytics resources are free to use and install, and they are not limited to Google or Bing Analytics. Tools such as Pingdom and GTMetrix can provide detailed feedback regarding your website visitors, how long your website took to load, the device and browser they were using to visit their site, and even their overall satisfaction level.
Using this kind of insight can pinpoint bottlenecks on small business websites and even recommend ways to correct them. I really don’t understand why any savvy small business owner would turn down free help!
5. Poor SEO
Small business marketing is getting more competitive, and small-business owners need every advantage they can possibly get. Online discoverability is important, helping potential customers find your company or business. Yet 26% of small businesses cannot be found in online searches because their small business websites earn a Google Page Rank of zero or have no Google Page Rank at all.
Because they do not understand the basics of SEO many small-business owners are hesitant to implement a search engine optimization strategy, which effectively keeps them from better search visibility. And I can understand that; you don’t want to appear “stupid” or lose your hard-earned money.
Here is an alternative for you; use our small business SEO toolbox to identify shortcomings in your existing or non-existing SEO. It is full of cool free tools selected by our highly caffeinated SEO goddess, Kale Nostrand.
6. No Social Proof
Social sharing is a key component of any digital marketing and lead generation strategy. According to Statista there were 1.74 BILLION monthly active users (MAUs) on social networks in 2015!
By allowing your customers to share their experience with your brand via social channels you are enabling information about your business to reach people you might not have otherwise targeted. Yet 91% of all small business websites lack Facebook widgets, 94% lack Twitter widgets, and 83% lack Twitter links!
And other social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or the professional networking platform LinkedIn are most often missing as well. And that makes it impossible for your visitors to share your small business website, or interact with the business through social media.
A quick note on Google+; due to another data breach Google announced it was shutting down the social network earlier than expected. As of the date of this post there is no official announcement regarding Google business pages, such as brand and business pages created on Google My Business. So if you have one of those I recommend you keep it active for now.
7. Outdated Content
Small business websites that get updated frequently and regularly rank higher on search engines and are more engaging for visitors. But curating appropriate content and updating even a basic website can be time-consuming and frustrating for many small-business owners. Our content strategists and copywriters liken it to the content marketing marathon!
64% of small-business owners find the time necessary to update their website a major challenge, and 24% say the cost of maintaining their site is a big hurdle. And when small-business owners maintain their own site they run the risk of wasting time they could be using to cultivate new business.
A much better option is to have your small business website built on a content management platform (CMS). My personal favorite is WordPress, and our design and development teams back me on this. But there are other available options, such as Shopify or Squarespace. A word of caution, as my good friend and WordPress expert Bob Dunn likes to say: “Sure, WordPress is easy! Once you know how to use it!”
So instead of trying to build your own WordPress business website I highly recommend that you engage the services of a professional web designer or web design agency. Yes, it will cost money. But you can count on professional support and training to get you started on the right foot. And you can usually count on ongoing support, just in case you get stuck.
8. No Dedicated IT Support
Many times small business owners are not as tech savvy as larger companies, or they don’t have the staff to provide for a full-time IT person. And that can be very dangerous! Without designated IT help small businesses risk security breaches or costly mistakes. 44% of small business websites have been cyber attacked, and a single cyber attack costs $ 8,669.48 on average. By going to the professionals IT services and support is usually provided with your small business website.
One way to prevent many technical glitches, and the resulting costly downtime of your business website, is to see if your web designer or web design agency offers a monthly website maintenance plan. Most often such a plan includes regular updates to your website framework, plugins, and database, as well as optimizing performance and regular backups. Think of it this way, the money you spend on regular maintenance is a fraction of what it will cost to rebuild your website after it was hacked.
How to Fix Small Business Websites
Before you panic keep in mind that the problems outlined above can usually be fixed in a time and cost-effective manner. But you most likely will need some professional help to get you started. Some immediate fixes can usually be implemented very quickly, so let’s start there.
The Low-Hanging Fruit
Here are a few things that you can either do yourself, or have a professional web designer do for you:
- Add a call to action (CTA) if you don’t already have one.
- Add your contact email and phone number to at least your home page; having it in the footer of every page is even better.
- Check to see if your business address is correct, including the pin on Google Maps.
- If you are active on social networks add links to them on your website and blog.
- Take a look at your content and remove outdated content and add new content.
- If you have a blog write a new post or two.
In most cases a professional web designer or agency can take care of everything on this list in a day or two. You will have to pay a few hundred dollars, but you will get immediate benefits.
Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly!
Ever since the Google Mobile-Friendly Update of April 2015 having a responsive website is an absolute must for any business! You can check to see how your business website looks on mobile devices in real-time through the Google Mobile-Friendly testing tool. Simply type in your domain URL and the tool will show you how it looks and functions on mobile devices and smartphones. If you want to compare your site on a variety of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, I recommend this website emulator. These are not screen shots, but real live websites that you can navigate and scroll through.
This is also a great way to check if everything looks and works as you want on mobile devices. Even mobile-friendly responsive websites may not look or function the same on all mobile devices. This resource will help you identify and fix any shortcomings before they become a bigger problem. Remember, if you are not having a great experience your visitors will not have one either!
What If You Need a New Small Business Website?
In some cases it is easier, and therefore more cost and time effective to start over from scratch. This is especially true if your current small business website is not mobile-friendly, based on a template or hosted solution that is difficult to update, suffers from bad design, or has other major problems. And keep in mind that websites get dated as well.
If your small business website is 5 years old or more you really should consider getting a fresh look and a small business website that works for you, not against you! So look for a web design professional in your city, or simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and find the best way for your business to get the online presence you need. That is one of our specialties, after all!
Did You Fix Small Business Website Mistakes on Your Site?
Did you notice any of the above small business website mistakes on your site? Or did you find some additional ones not mentioned in our blog post? How did you fix them? And what kind of results did you achieve once you updated your business website? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!
We appreciate your help in eliminating bad business websites, one pixel at a time! Thank you!