Why your website is killing you

Why your website is killing you

Why your website is killing you

When was the last time you looked at a website? No, let’s be more specific. When was the last time you looked at YOUR website? We’d wager you haven’t done so in the last month. In fact, since you set it up and the novelty of looking at your bit of Web real estate wore off, have you looked at it at all? Have you asked yourself why your website is killing you?

If you’re one of those companies that has ticked the box labeled ‘Need a website’ on your business plan, then you’re probably one of those companies that is wondering why that massive investment in time, money and technology has produced zip in terms of returns.

We plainly have no idea what your company does – but it sure as hell does something. Perhaps you make stuff or you supply a service or you fix things. Whatever you do, you put a lot of effort into making sure you do it well – well, we hope you do. You probably send people on courses to learn how to improve your fundamental commercial output. You may invest hard-earned income into new plant or faster computers or upgrade your trade tools to better quality ones. So, why aren’t you doing the same for your website? Your website is killing you and you haven’t even noticed.

It's business, Jim, but not as we know it

It’d be easy to read this and think we just want you to spend money with us. Well, that’s a point of view. But you might also consider that we have seen enough companies who’ve come through our doors with huge aspirations about getting themselves onto The Web, do so then sit back and ignore it. That, good friends, is fatal. You need to ask yourself why your website is killing you and the answers may not be as hard to find as you think.

As your potential customer, my first stop is your website. I might only want your ‘phone number but I’m going to get an immediate view of ‘you’. If your website’s last update was in June 1787, I may not get the feeling that you’re on the ball. If your client list says ‘tba’ or worse ‘Insert list here’, you plainly haven’t got to grips with your marketing or market. How about your links, both outward and inward bound? Do they all work or are your potential customers going to see a 404 page when the link fails (BTW, you do have a custom 404 page don’t you?)? Have you got a Twitter or Facebook feed on your home page? When was the last update? More than a week ago and you’re looking like you’re out of town. Oh, and I came looking for your ‘phone number. It is on your contact page with all possible contact modes visible – and working, isn’t it? You’d be surprised how many companies have contact forms that don’t work, email contacts that bounce back and old ‘phone numbers!

It's all about Google

You’ll have heard of Google, well-known search supplier and purveyor of thousands of other things IT. Google likes content, that’s what it feeds to its eternally ravenous search engine. But, hungry though its search engine is, it gets nauseous if it is fed content it has already gobbled up from elsewhere. The dreaded non-unique content syndrome! If you spot something on some other site that you think would look good on yours (and we’ll ignore copyright here!), don’t be tempted to copy it and paste it right in. Google is very clever and will spot the similarity and banish your website to the boondocks. If this approach is your only way to come up with content, put the content into your own words. Give it your spin, something to make it stand out from the competition and say how you do it differently. One further apparently trivial but important point. When you’re giving the content your spin or  you’re writing new content, make sure you get it right. Google likes words, combinations of words and phrases and has a very, very good idea of syntax and semantics. Please, please get your spelling right, check for missed words or incorrect context! It all counts but not just for Google. Your customers need to be able to understand your words so if they’re wrong or sentences trail off halfway through, you may lose them. It’s also a quality issue. If you don’t show that you’ve taken care over your website then maybe your company’s quality statement is just hot air too. More reasons why your website is killing you.

These are just the low-hanging fruit which are surprisingly easy to forget. Then, there are the harder ones. Google doesn’t rest, it works every day of every year. It employs vast numbers of people some of whose aims are to keep The Internet fresh. You may be on page 1 of search results one day and page 10 the next (boondocks time!). Chances are you have done nothing and that’s probably the problem. There are lots of recommendations from Google on what you can do to improve it’s view of your website. It publishes some of them and lets the others filter out through consultants and Google-watchers. Sometimes, it drops in new algorithms (the infamous Pandas, Penguins, etc) but mostly, it’s subtle tweaks. Keep up with the tweaks and Google will like you, ignore them at your peril.

Now, did we see something like the above on another website and rehash it for your delight? Well, funnily enough, we didn’t. We’re not saying we have a unique view that nobody else has because that would be completely untrue. But we do have first-hand experience of everything we’ve said. For instance, just over a year ago, we inherited a major website. It had taken several years to build, was a unique concept in its market and should have been performing well – but wasn’t. Google largely ignored it, potential customers therefore didn’t see it in search results and its founders and investors were thinking it was near death. With a lot – and we do mean a lot – of very hard work on analysis of the problems and implementation of gradual change, Google has noticed the website, customers are seeing it in their results and money is trickling into the cash till. It is still a trickle but it beats none at all and the trickle is growing weekly.

We’re not saying it’s easy but it can be done. Some of the problems you can probably fix yourself just by applying more time. Some of you may need help so contact us if you do.

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