Sorry to be so blunt. And, no, I still have no reasoning behind the 91.4% used in these blog post headlines other than they get people to click!
Let’s get right into it. Seriously…Why do so many small business’ websites suck? I have a handful of reasons I will run through very quickly and then I will get into the meat and potatoes regarding exactly what sucks about them.
The reasons behind why so many small business websites suck may be infinite, so I am only going to list the reasoning I have determined from my experience over the past 10 years.
The Reasons Most Small Business Websites Suck (In Order)
- The small business owner attempted to build the website themselves.
- The small business owner hired the wrong website design and/or SEO company.
- The small business owner hasn’t updated their website in several years.
- The small business is no longer in business.
- The small business owner is hard-headed and built the website the way they thought it should be built, ignoring what actually constitutes a good website.
- The website was built using Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy Website Builder, or Vistaprint website builder.
Breaking Down Poor Website Design By Website Elements
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into specific things, or lack of things, that make a website suck.
Above The Fold
Above the fold refers to what is visible at the top of your web pages before the user has to scroll down. This area is ‘prime real estate’ and needs to be optimized to the fullest regardsin terms of technical SEO (search engine optimization) and UX (user experience).
100% part of having a well built website is the fact that it is easy to navigate. A person with minimal computer skills should easily be able to go from page to page on your website. Your website’s page menu should be at the top of the page. At Optimized, we feel it should ‘stick’ to the top of the page so even when the user scrolls down, the website sticks to the top of the page and is always accessible.
Along with having a clearly labeled and obvious menu at the top of your website, you should also incorporate links to other pages on your website where appropriate. These can be in the form of buttons, or in the form of anchor text. Anchor text links should be clearly styled to let the user know that it is clickable and will pass more ‘SEO juice’ between the pages as compared to buttons.
Call To Action
What is the desired action you want someone to take when they land on your website? If you don’t know, you need to figure it out ASAP and make it clear as day on your website. I cannot tell you how many websites I audit that are simply rambling brochures offering little to no value to the business or its website users.
Display your reviews on your website! People want to know that others have bought your product or used your service and had a positive experience. More than likely these reviews are going to have keywords in them that will also provide SEO value to your website. If you don’t have reviews, you should put fetching reviews at the top of your priority list if you wan to succeed online.
The best place to get a review for your business is on Google. Next is Yelp, and then Facebook. Use a tool to pull these reviews onto your website or copy and paste them.
Depending on what industry your business is in, there may be a couple or even several other review platforms that would definitely benefit your business.
We recommend to include at least one real client review on each page along with having a dedicated page full of all your reviews.
This blog is specifically for traditional small businesses. It certainly does seem personalization is not too important for eCommerce sites, even though they probably are, or at least started off as, a small business. I’m talking about service businesses whether it’s a trade or professional service, restaurants, food trucks, yoga studios, mom and pop shops, and on and on.
The about us page is often the 2nd or 3rd most popular page on our small business clients’ websites. The funny thing is, your about us page should really be more like an ‘about you’ page, as in, about the person viewing this page.
Yes, certainly briefly touch on your background, passion, and credentials. Touch on your business history and involvement in the community. And, please, include a picture of yourself. Consider adding a team picture and photos of key members of your team and possibly even your office/space, vehicles, and work/products.
But, most importantly, stress the benefits you can offer the person on your site. The about us page is a great place to stuff a lot of this info in, but be sure to highlight benefits and a call to action on each page!
Copy is the term used for the words on your web pages. Specifically in regards to the paragraph text on your web pages. H tags are for headlines, all other copy on your site should be paragraph text.
In your copy is where in need to take advantage of keywords. Keywords simply refer to the words people most commonly type into the search bar when you want your website to be at the top of the search results. So, it only makes sense these words appear on the web pages that apply to them.
Yes. Include keywords in your H tags too. Also consider alternative terms with similar meanings to your main keyword and sprinkle those in as you can. Each page on your website should be optimized for a single keyword. Google ranks web pages, not websites.
Another place to use keywords is in the file names you upload your images to your site with. You can use keywords in alt tags on images as well, but be sure to describe the image, not just keyword stuff. Alt tags should describe exactly what the image is of to a person with a visual impairment. Also, use keywords in your schema markup, page titles, and meta descriptions.
The most common mistakes with images are as follows:
- Overuse of stock images
- Too large of a file size
- Too small of a file size
- Missing alt tags
- Poor file names/image titles
- Wrong file type
- Images not compressed
If you haven’t noticed, images and video are playing larger and larger roles on the web. There is a lot that goes into slapping images on your website in the correct manner, but once you know how to do it, it really isn’t that bad or time consuming.
Using crappy images in general or obviously stock images is possibly the biggest mistake in my opinion. Take your own pictures and use those on your website. There is a time and place for stock images, typically not on a small business website.
One way I identify an unprofessional website relatively quickly is just looking at the colors used. This may be stemmed back to a poorly designed logo, but often I see colors sprinkled throughout a website that just don’t make any sense and that don’t go with the other colors used.
There are plenty of free complimentary color picker tools that are just a Google search away. We recommend using the complimentary color tool by Adobe.
Flat out poor design is something I see far too often as well. I used to get a little crazy with website designs myself and went a little over the top with animations on scroll and on hover, stuff like that. That isn’t exactly what I mean here by ‘design elements.’
Far too often I see pictures too large or too small in comparison to their space and the other elements on the page.
Another bad idea is using several fonts. Keep it to 2, 3 max, fonts. Consider keeping H tags all the same font and paragraph text all the same font throughout the website.
If you are using square edges, keep all the edges square! Mixing rounded corners with 90 degree corners on the same site is usually not a good look!
It is no longer an option that your website is responsive meaning that is displays properly on all screen sizes. If you check the analytic data for your website, you can see the percentage of views between the 3 major device types; computers, tablets, and phones.
Consider moving to a mobile first website design mentality as more and more people are surfing the web from their smart phones.
Mobile Specific Add-ons
The desktop version and mobile version of your website can be different! A couple elements that are always different on websites we built are the menus from device to device and we like to at least ‘pin’ a click to call option at the bottom of the mobile site. Click to call doesn’t make sense on the computer version so why would it be shown on a computer?
Click to text is now super easy to implement on mobile websites. Also consider click to quote or click to email. Maybe another ‘call to action’ fits your business better. And, you can use any combination you would like and style them however you would like.
Slow Page Load Speed
Google wants your web page fully loaded under 4 seconds and so do your website visitors. If your site is not populated and functional within a couple seconds, you are losing more potential business than you can possible know. Put speeding up your website at the top of your to-do list.
Our favorite page speed tool is free to use. You can try it out here.
Your website has to be secure these days. If it is not, it tells me either the business is out of business or is just completely out of the loop when it comes to best practices for websites. If your website host wants to charge $100 or more for an SSL certificate, look into SSLS.com or contact us.
Lacking Vital Information
I audit websites for free…you may have noticed that! This lands me on a ton of websites around the country and world. It still amazes me how often I see websites missing any kind of data about where they are located or much worse, where they serve. If you serve clients local to your business, it is simply vital this info is easy to find and understand.
I also often see websites missing key elements such as business hours, email address, and even phone numbers.
Your website should be crystal clear as to what you offer, who you serve, and how to contact you at the very least.
Websites often appear as a shell of website to me. But, there are no signs of content being added or created. I do believe we are in the middle of a ‘less is more’ movement as people in general want to read less and less.
To accomplish this, use your blog as the main place the content is held and use internal links to connect those pages to the corresponding pages on your website correctly.
Zero Technical SEO
More often than not when I audit a site, it has had ‘some work’ done by a ‘professional’ website or SEO service. Yet and I can still do a very brief audit by running 1-tool in the form of a Chrome extension. The tool is SEOquake.
As a ‘by the book’ SEO, it is really unsettling seeing other companies take clients’ money while they don’t even do the most very basic, simple SEO tasks to set the foundation for success online.
Small Business Website Audit Conclusion
I truly believe most small business owners are in 1 of 2 boats.
- They do not believe the web ‘can work’ for them as they have attempted to do it all themselves yielding no results
- They have paid the wrong website design or SEO company and now aren’t willing to hire the right one
Either way, this sucks!
The web can 100% work for your small, local business. We would love to provide you with a ton of free information specifically regarding your current website and online presence as a whole.
All you need to do is ask us for a free audit. You can use the form below to request yours now. It takes 30 seconds!