Sunday, 25 February 2018

6 Ways your website could be costing you customers

A few years ago I wrote an post entitled Ten reasons why your website isn't working, which talks about the written and design elements of your website.

This post is a little more technical and deals with things going on under the bonnet of your site.

A website that is underperforming is still costing you money.

Your website should satisfy three main criteria.
  1. It should work well for your customers
  2. It should give you a decent return on your investment
  3. It should follow Google's guidelines
If you're dubious about number 3, you should bear in mind that Google accounts for 88% of the market. That's a lot of potential customers you could be losing if your website doesn't play ball.

So, here are six things you might want to look at to make sure your website is a winner.

1. Your website isn't responsive

Responsive websites are designed to improve the user experience for people accessing them on smartphones and tablets.

Content is customised to fit a variety of screen sizes and the website adapts intuitively to the screen size of the device being used to view it.

Websites are designed in this way because:

2. Your website takes too long to load

A website that is slow to load can make potential customers impatient, but that isn't the only reason to address the issue.

Search engines have what is known as a Crawl Budget. This describes how often and how deeply it crawls your website. Each crawl has a time limit.

Ideally you want the search engine to crawl your website often and to index as many pages as possible during each crawl. But if your top tier pages take a long time to load, this reduces the time the crawl will spend on the pages deeper in your site.

Again, Google gives preference to websites that load quickly.

You can check your website's loading speed at Google Page Speed Insights. The site will also give you some useful pointers on how you can speed it up.

3. The search engines are not crawling your site.

To improve your organic page rank, you need the search engines to crawl your site. Certain things, however, can prevent this.

Some of the things that block crawling include:

  • Forms requiring data entry
  • Some Java script e.g. infinite scrolling
  • Sites that are coded to stop crawling — for example if your site is being developed and has been uploaded during the testing and critique stage
  • Rich media, such as Flash
  • URLs that appear problematic or too similar
  • Orphan pages, which are not linked to from any other page of the site
To find out which pages of your site have been crawled and indexed, go to Google and type "site:" followed by your domain name into the search box and press enter.

For example

All of the indexed pages will be listed. If your website has a lot of pages — and you know how many pages there should be — you can get an idea from the number of results at the very top of the list.

If some pages are missing, check those pages using the above list. Make sure any missing pages have links to them on other pages.

If no pages appear, check with your web developer that the crawl blockers were removed from the coding when your site went live.

4. Your website security hasn't been upgraded.

Google actively favours sites that use secure http — aka https.

This URL opener was once reserved for pages where users are required to enter personal information or bank details. Now it is a requirement for every page of your site. 

Google Chrome will soon be marking standard http sites as insecure, which could cause a drop in your site traffic.

If your site has already been upgraded the URL for every page will begin with https.

If not, the upgrade is a simple procedure and can usually be done by your web developer or web hosting company. 

5. You don't have optimised page titles or meta descriptions

Your website's page title is one of the most important elements for effective search engine optimisation.

You can see it in the Google search — it's the top line in blue.

Alternatively, it's also the text that appears in the very top of your browser window or tab.

This text should be optimised with relevant keywords that people will use when they are searching for your site.

If it just says Home or the name of your business, then it hasn't been optimised properly.

The meta description is the two lines of black text underneath the page title.

Meta descriptions never used to factor in searches, and didn't need to be keyworded, but this all changed a few years ago. If your website copy has never been updated, they may not have been optimised.

Now when you perform a search, the terms you search for are emboldened in the meta description. If your website doesn't have designated meta descriptions — or if Google doesn't like the ones you do have — suitable text from your home page will be displayed instead.

6. Your website features duplicate content

Search engines favour website content that is unique and original. If they find a number of sites with the same content, they will choose the one that looks the most trustworthy and dismiss all the others.

So, if your content is too similar to what is already out there, you run the risk of not ranking in the search results.

You may have duplicate content on your site if:

  • You are using product descriptions as supplied by a manufacturer
  • You have republished an article or press release from another source
  • You have copied material directly from other websites
  • It contains widely used material, such as industry guidelines or standard documents
You can check for it by copying and pasting a small section from your website into the Google search bar and adding quotation marks (") before and after it.

To avoid any problems:
  • Hire a competent web copywriter to write original and optimised content
  • Avoid copying material from other websites
  • Include widely used materials — such as standard guidelines and documents or republished articles and press releases — as PDFs or JPEGs

Do you need effective, original content for your website or blog?

I am a freelance copywriter and content writer with experience of writing content for the web. All content is original, fully optimised and search engine friendly.

If you would like to discuss a project, please get in touch, I would love to hear from you.

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