Biggest DIY Website Mistakes
Nowadays everyone knows if you are starting a business and have no online presence (Website and Social Media account) you don't exist. This leads to people looking for the cheapest possible way to get a website just for the sake of having one. Look at the image above, this is an actual functioning website that is up and running right this moment! Don't believe me? Check it out yourself. This website as a famous example of bad design. I am pretty sure nothing has been updated for this website since the 90s.
Often I see developers being hired to fix, tweak or rebuild DIY website made by someone who wanted to save money. Any of the "freelance" sites will have pages and pages of requests like that. Don't get me wrong, I have seen some excellent work done by people that haven't done any coding work in the past, but that means countless hours of research and dedicated studying of website standards and how to implement those.
Simply having a website is not enough. Today you need to stand out from the crown and bring something new to the table! If you are looking for tips on how to improve your website and it's ranking this article is for you! I tried to summarise and explain the biggest mistakes that damage your visitors first impressions and search engine rankings for your website.
Check out this post: Why Hire a Professional Web Designer/Developer?
Clear Vision for The Website
It is very important to get a clear vision for your website before any works happen, whether you hire someone or do it yourself. What is it about? Who is going to be your visitor? How are you going to keep them interested in your website?
Grab a pen and a sheet of paper, and try to answer these five questions, to begin with:
- What is my website about?
- What is my target audience?
- How will I drive traffic to my website?
- How will I keep my audience engaged?
- How and when will I post new content?
Call to Action
I am sure you have heard this before, but call to action applies to web environment as much as any other advertisement. You want your website to have a clear call to action. When you visit a page, what are the 3 main things you are looking for? What, Where and How? This goes hand in hand with the previous point "Clear Vision for The Website". Once you establish what your website is and your target audience, it's pretty easy to figure out what your Call to Action has to be.
There is a visual element to this too. Tell your designer to keep in mind your specific call to action with a big button, or navigation bar section that is colored in a different color, maybe a whole front page slide could be your call to action. It could be anything as long as it is the first thing your visitors see (What to do or What is it you offer, Where to go or Where to get it, How to do it/get it).
Let's say your website is promoting your law firm.
What do you want your visitors to do? Contact you, because you are not selling any physical/electronic product.
Where they can do that? Through your contact page or calling your office.
How can they do it? By either calling a number that should be on the top of your page or clicking a button "contact us" that clearly stands out from other content on your page.
Now first thing your visitor will see is a call to action (contact you). Make sure your visitor is guided through your website step by step instead of them getting lost in the jungle.
This is a big one! So many small businesses don't have any sort of Analytics tools! If your web developer does not suggest you to use analytics tools, please just bring it up during a conversation or do the research yourself. Either way, you need to have analytics tools for your website!
What is the point of your website? To drive traffic to your business! Do you want to know detailed information about the demographics of your visitors so you could adjust your website one or the other way to suit better a certain audience? Well, then you definitely need some sort of analytics tool for your website. I personally suggest Google Analytics. It is very easy to set up just sign up, add a tracking code to your site that will be provided by Google and you are all set. They even have an app for your phone, so you could bring up statistics from your website anywhere.
You Need a Professional Design
Design is a big topic when it comes to websites, many think that they don't need a designer for their web project because all they have to do is add some images, navigation bar and add their number on top of the page. There is so much more to it, did you know Search Engines penalize your website with rankings for not having good color contrast? Check your website with CCAV. Use tools like Color Safe to determine your color palette before committing to a design.
Mobile-Friendly Website (Responsive)
Nowadays almost everyone knows that your website has to be mobile-friendly and it has become a standard in the industry to develop websites with a mobile-friendly interface without charging thousand dollars extra like it was a few years ago. Unfortunately, there are developers and uninformed first-timers who still develop websites that are not mobile-friendly as a standard. There are so many tools to help developers and newcomers to create a mobile-friendly website that I am seriously confused about how there are websites still made without mobile-friendly interface. If you decide to make your website by yourself please look into Bootstrap if you are coding your website from scratch or if it's a Wordpress Theme make sure it's mobile-friendly.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization
SEO is a term being thrown around everywhere at the moment, and for a good reason. Before we get into details I want you to realize, that your websites search engine optimization might be on the most important things for your success online.
When someone says SEO is just a mix of good keywords and backlinks, I will say (well kind of and not really). Surely keywords and backlinks matter, but nowadays there is a quality score for keywords and backlinks. That means if your keyword quality is higher then you will have a much easier time to rank higher than someone using low-quality ones. There are many things search engines value nowadays not only keywords and backlinks, your content matters too, anything from the text in your page to image and code optimization.
Let's talk keywords!
It's a mistake to just throw random keywords together and hope for the best. If your keywords are low-quality search engines won't penalize your site, but everyone else in your industry using high-quality ones will have a much easier time to get on the top of google rankings. Google is your friend here, look for phrases used with your keywords at the bottom of the google search page.
How to construct my keywords?
At the moment long-tail keywords are much more effective. What is a long-tail keyword? Think of them as natural phrases that your potential visitors would search for.
Let's take a lawfirm as an example again.
Instead of using keywords like "prenup services" use keywords like "how much does a prenup costs?"
or instead of creating multiple keywords that I see often "car accident, lawsuit, sued", etc... just use "what to do if you are being sued for a car accident?" and "how to sue for a car accident?".
Try to jump into your visitors' shoes and think of phrases they would use to look for your services.
This is important, don't screw up your backlinks!
What is a backlink?
A backlink is just a link from an external website to yours. Before creating or acquiring backlinks, please make sure your website is well optimized, loads quickly and user experience is good, otherwise it will be waste of your resources and money.
Another point I want to make is your backlinks have a quality score just like your keywords! Wait, what? How does Google give a score to links pointing to your website? It's actually pretty simple, these are called "relevant backlinks" coming from relevant websites, forums, etc..
Your backlinks should come from other websites that are relevant to yours, in the form of a comment on a relevant article, etc..
If the majority of your backlinks come from completely unrelated sites and worse untrusted websites, you will be penalized by the Google search engine.
H1 and H2 tags
H1 and H2 tags are header/heading tags you should wrap up your topics and titles in. In the H1 tag, you would want to include keywords most relevant and important to the page visitor is viewing. It's like giving topic/s of your presentation in a meeting or classroom. By using H1 and H2 tags you will create a clear guide for search engines what your page is about.
Let's say you are writing an article about Biggest DIY Website Mistakes. This is an example of how you can use H1 and H2 tags.
Try to include H1 and H2 tags around the relevant titles in your page. Make sure your relevant keywords are within your H1 and H2 tags, this will help with SEO.
In the future, I am planning to write a standalone article about SEO optimization and expand on all of the SEO topics mentioned in this article.
HTTPS vs HTTP
Use HTTPS! Okay, now when that's out of the way, what is HTTPS?
Ever wondered what does that "Not secure" at the top of your browser mean?
HTTPS stands for Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol, or to put it in simple words Secure Version of HTTP. HTTPS and HTTP largely follow the same protocols with an exception, HTTPS adds another layer of protection (SSL). Not to get in much detail, HTTPS encrypts your data that you send to the website through your browser, but HTTP doesn't.
Great, but how does it concern your SEO?
Nowadays Google really dislikes your website if it doesn't have HTTPS. So naturally, there are penalties for not meeting their SEO standards.
- Your ranking will be penalized if you do not use HTTPS, Google has confirmed this. Here is an article from Google.
- You add an extra layer of security for your visitors by using HTTPS.
- The only way of getting rid of the message "Not secure" on top of your browser is by installing an SSL certificate and using secure protocol for your website.
Using Social Media
There is no question about Social Media effect on your business success, it is huge if applied correctly. I don't even know where to start with the benefits that Social Media can bring your business.
First of all, develop a strict schedule and topics for posting on your social media business page. Why should you do that? For small businesses or startups especially it's very difficult to come up with content for their social media. Don't be scared to retweet/post/share competitors posts, if you run a startup or a small business, any content you put out is good content for you, as long as it's actually related to your business.
This is a big one, controversial topics. Some would say it's a risk/reward thing if your companies public profile gets involved in heated discussions, especially if it's a startup. Here is my take on it. If you don't feel that your audience/customer would appreciate it, don't do it! It can put your business on the map for all the good or bad reasons and you don't want the latter.
Educate yourself before posting. There are many articles about what and how to post on your business page online. Study few and come up with a consistent strategy for your business page and stick to your schedule.
I will make a standalone post on this topic (How does Social Media help your Business).
Hire a Professional to Develop Your Website
One of the biggest mistakes I see is people trying to do everything themselves to save money. If you want to create your website by yourself and learn how to do it properly in the process, I encourage that but please make sure a professional take a look at it afterward. You might think that everything is working great when in reality you don't even appear on any page in google search. It almost always ends with you spending more money hiring someone to fix your mess than actually hiring a professional to do all of the headlines mentioned above correctly with the first try.
I want my website to be safe, well designed, optimized and fast, do you want the same?
Here is an article on this topic, Why Hire a Professional Web Designer/Developer?.