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What Are The Most Common Mistakes People Make When They Create Small Business Websites?
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When small business owners work to establish and grow their online presence they often make some very common mistakes. Below are three major missteps we see from small business Web site creators.

Lack of Strategy. Small businesses are often intimidated by Web site technology and too often there is no strategy around how to best meet the goals of building an online presence. From the very beginning there is a general lack of content preparation. Poor imagery, content without a call to action and text that does not clearly define what the company does, all demonstrate a lack of professionalism. A Web site should not look like a static image, such as a brochure or a print ad. It should have a clear, legible font and user-friendly navigation that invites interaction. Additionally, it should offer dynamic content that will entice a visitor to return on a regular basis - articles, updates, news, coupons, etc.

Follow through. Once a small business has established a Web presence with content they’re confident best ties back to their business goals, the tricky part is maintaining it. Content can quickly become out of date, so consistent and well thought updates are essential to keeping content timely and interesting. In addition to maintaining a site, users need to be encouraged to visit again and again. Even a well built Web site needs assistance with spreading the word. Search engine marketing, banner ads, newsletters, email marketing, business cards, flyers and even chatty employees can help to drive traffic to a Web site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ensuring that a Web site is built with search engine friendly content is something that a lot of small businesses overlook. Investing in a Web site, but doing too little to ensure customers and prospects can find your products and services through leading search engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN) is an exercise in futility. They know it’s important to show up on search engines, but they don't always take the time up front to build the site to leverage how search engines operate. Search engine marketing and SEO are vital to the success of any Web site, therefore it is critical to ensure this is done properly and efficiently.

—Jeff Stibel, CEO, Web.com.


Many of the most common mistakes people make when creating a small business website can be traced back to one root cause: a lack of confidence. Many business owners assume that web visitors are not interested in what they might consider a relatively mundane product or service, and view the creation of a website as just another obligatory document. However, the fact is that almost all of the visitors to any small business website are there because they are looking for more information – and they chose to visit a specific website because they’re looking for information on that particular product or service – no matter how mundane.

Many business owners are experts on their industry, and have an enormous amount of valuable knowledge about their product or service. By publishing this knowledge on their website, business owners can build credibility with web visitors – many of whom are not likely to meet them in person or see their brick and mortar storefront. Populating a website with useful articles and reference material is also likely to boost that site’s search engine ranking – since the primary objective of the search engines to find the most useful, relevant content for their users.

Another element business owners often overlook is interactivity. Some websites get a healthy amount of traffic, but the business owner would never know it because there is no convenient method or incentive for visitors to interact with them. Service based businesses in particular often mistakenly assume that if they don’t have a product to sell on-line, there’s nothing for a visitor to “do” on their website. In fact, there are a variety of ways to interact with visitors beyond simply selling a product – newsletters, Webinars, forums, and blogs just to name a few. Many business owners are pleasantly surprised by the amount of visitors who are willing to register and supply their contact information to obtain access to such content.

The key thing to remember when building a website is that visitors to your website are interested in more information about your product or service. By publishing valuable content on your website and providing an incentive for visitors to register and supply their contact information, you can build credibility, improve your search engine rank, and begin to build a database of potential customers – all by simply sharing the one commodity that many business owners have an abundance of, and consumers crave: knowledge.

—John Enright, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Affinity Internet.


1. Avoid the “Me, too” Syndrome. Many small businesses focus on adding the fancy bells and whistles that they see on other sites to their own. Not only does this add unnecessary functionality, it will not increase sales or bring a return on their investment. The beauty of the Web is that when sites are developed correctly, they are scalable. This means that a proper site can be developed in phases. Start with the basics, and as you get feedback from potential clients or stakeholders, make the recommended additions or changes.

2. There’s no such thing as a $500 Web site. Many small businesses don’t understand the value of hiring an expert in usability and design to create and develop their Web site. Thus, they hire novice designers or engineers to deliver. In 95% of these cases, I find that either the company hired did not deliver, or that the client is unhappy with the look of the site. This is a waste of time and money, as the site needs to be redesigned to enhance the look, usability and create brand recognition.

3. If you build it, they will not come. Not automatically, that is. You must focus on search engine submissions, optimization and other ecommerce strategies to bring customers to your site. Millions of sites are added to the Internet daily. What makes yours stand apart? First, it should be easy to find. You can accomplish this through grass roots strategies such as cross linking arrangements, and through creating relevant content with appropriate search strings so that Web crawlers can find you. Second, once visitors see your Home Page, you MUST clearly and succinctly deliver a solution to their problem. Forget that trendy “Enter Here” stuff. Get to the point. People are compressed for time and they will appreciate your fast answers to their challenges.

—Les Kollegian, Owner and Founder, Jacob Tyler Creative Group

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