website mistakesOver the last week I was asked by a few small businesses to assess their website and provide feedback on how to improve. One was for a small business handling insurance, one was an automotive dealer and, lastly, one was for a consulting firm. Although there were across three different industries, there were four common mistakes.

Let’s take a look at them to see how you can improve the first impressions of your customers:

Not Including a “Why Buy From Me” Message

Having a why buy from me message is not just a cute slogan but also a real, ongoing effort to stand out. Understand what your difference is and know statements like “family owned” or “in business for 50 years” means nothing to today’s consumer.

If I can get your product or service from multiple vendors, you need to make me understand what makes you different. Is it your product? Is it the service? Is it the ongoing customer service? Whatever it is, you need to make sure that is very clear on your website through the use of banners, videos or customer content.

Not Utilizing Customer Reviews and Testimonials

I have written about this in previous articles and the common theme is to make sure you have customer reviews or testimonials to back up your claims. Customers want to hear exactly what your process is, what they can expect from doing business with you and then confirmation from other sources. This can be in the form of a written testimonial or a video that you can leverage on your site and in social media or blog content.

In the case of insurance or financial planners, saying customers saved money may not be allowed, but getting people to talk about the experience of doing business with you is also effective.

No Custom Content

Content is important not just to help the website rank in search results, but helps create a great user experience by letting them learn about the company and its services. Content custom to your unique business and your audience to maximize the real estate on your website and create more opportunities for potential customers.

In the case of the insurance website, part of the website package includes content delivered by the parent company. While the content itself has value, when you click on links for the full article, the user is taken off of the business’s site and to the parent website. Allowing people – potential customers – to leave your site is not a good practice. Click on all links on your site to see where they go. If it is a useful page somewhere else on your site, set it to open in another tab. Remember, you want people to stay on our site as long as possible.

Another issue in terms of content is the use of stock photos. While this may work for certain situations, real photos offer a much better experience. If you are selling cars, having specific photos of the cars on your lot or real photos of the vehicles makes a much more effective presentation than the stock photos.  In the cases of insurance and consulting services, having the stock photo of a happy family or business setting is okay, but I still recommend real people in real situations.

Canned SEO

Many website packages available for small businesses are good for creating the website’s structure, but not for specific needs of the business.  To make sure your business is being found, you need a strong SEO strategy. Many times the SEO defaults to pre-set terms based on your industry but may not really be tailored for your specific business and what you are selling. Additionally, there is often no targeting data, no pages for each area you are looking to draw from and no strategy for what keywords you want to rank for.

Your website is the first impression of who you are as a company. Make sure you stand out online or else you will get lost in the land of the average.

Get started now with our Definitive SEO Checklist.  Download the checklist for a step-by-step guide to properly optimize your website.

About the Author

Lisa Grande is the Client Account Team Manager. She is passionate about her clients and educating the team to best serve their clients.