So you’ve put a lot of effort into finalizing your website. Your KPIs are all set, the website has a solid design, you’ve got good, original content, and all your social media channels have been firing at full blast. Day after day you eagerly check your traffic but much to your dismay are only seeing mediocre results. The amount of visitors is only a fraction of what you were hoping for!
With over 200 factors that go into ranking your website in the search engines, there are a number of different elements that play into these poor results. A good website must be the cornerstone of any successful business in 2016 and beyond. Here are some the most common blunders still occurring today and how to fix them:
Blunder 1: Duplicate Title Tags
One of the most common website mistakes is duplicated title tags. Title tags are the blue words in Google and Bing result pages that you click on:
This is an issue because title tags are one of the strongest ways to convey to the search engines what a particular page is about. By having duplicate title tags, search engines cannot confidently serve the correct page for a related query, thus impacting your rankings for these terms.
More so, from a UX perspective, title tags are what appear within the tabs on your browser. Having duplicated and/or generic title tags is extremely confusing for a user, especially when they have multiple tabs open. You will want to go with a short, succinct, and descriptive title tag.
Google is constantly updating and tweaking their search engine result pages (SERPs), but as of the time of this writing studies suggest that you will want to keep the length of your tag at 60 characters or below. A great example of an effective title tag can be seen from the national tax company Community Tax and their web page for tax preparation:
Notice how their title tag clearly illustrates what the page is about, whose website it is, and all under 35 characters.
First, you will need to identify all your title tags and look for duplicates. There are many different tools to help with this, but the best tool is Screaming Frog. However, the back end of your WordPress or website creation tool should work too.
After running your website through Screaming Frog (see above photo), export the results and use Microsoft Excel’s Conditional Formatting functionality to highlight any duplicate values. If your website is too large for the free version of Screaming Frog and you are unable or unwilling to purchase the premium version, you can still fix the duplication issues; however, the process will be a little more time consuming.
You will need to go into your CMS and look over each page’s title tags and change them so there is no duplication.
As mentioned, this can be very time consuming. However, it is necessary to make it clear to Google that your targeted page is designated for a particular keyword and matched with suitable content, as this will prevent diluted search rankings.
Blunder 2: Not Utilizing Google Analytics
Google easily has the best search engine on the market, and with it, one of the best web analytics tools. Some businesses make the mistake of using analytics from their web host or a third-party WordPress plugin like JetPack, however these do not always see the best results or hold historical data long enough for informed decision making.
The marketplace today relies on strong analytics and data analysis and will continue to do so for years to come. It is crucial for businesses to base their decisions on data-driven results to make sure each dollar they spend is being used in the most efficient manner possible.
Set up tracking for your business’ website with Google Analytics. Google Analytics reports in four key areas; audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversions. With Google Analytics, you will be able to critically examine your marketing strategy and optimize if needed, work out the kinks on your website, and find out how to better target your audience while allocating your budget.
If you’re running your website with WordPress, plugins such as Google Analyticator make installation a breeze.
Blunder 3: Slow Website Speed
UX, or user experience, is perhaps the most important factor business owners need to take into account when putting their website together. Keep in mind the average attention span is at an all-time low, being just around eight seconds.
This means that the loading speed for your website needs to be top-notch, as users will get easily distracted or frustrated and leave if they are waiting for too long.
In fact, studies show that about 25% of users will abandon a page if the loading time is more than four seconds. To put this into perspective, let’s say an e-commerce website is making $10,000 per day. In this example, a one-second page delay could potentially cost that site a quarter of a million dollars in lost sales each year.
Online users are extremely impatient. One way to cut down on loading speed is to switch image format to reduce the size. This will save bandwidth without having a significant effect on quality. Tiny PNG is a great image compression service that also has a WordPress plugin.
Speaking of plug-ins, another thing you can do is examine your website’s plugins. The more plugins a site has, the longer it takes to load. An evaluation can help identify and get rid of poor or outdated plugins that slow down website performance.
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to help identify problems and provide insight on how to fix them.
Blunder 4: Page Content (No Words)
Poor or nonexistent content is a huge, avoidable blunder. Google, along with other search engines, need to know what each page on your website is about in order to confidently serve them within the SERPs. Outside of title tags, as discussed earlier, on-page text is a critical way to convey this information. In fact, the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.
It’s important to keep in mind that Google uses robots to crawl the internet, and unlike people, these robots do not have eyes. What does this mean for your website? It means that if you’re using a lot of images, Google is going to have a hard time understanding what your pages are about.
Google wants content to be at least 300 words for each page, but as noted above, most first page results are more than 6x that. Images are important, as they engage your visitors, but they need to be used to supplement the text.
If you are selling a product or service on your website, show your image at the top and have your text-based content below. Be sure your content is centered around the appropriate title tag and keywords of the page, but don’t overdo it with keyword stuffing; in 2016 that is a huge no-no.
Also, keep in mind that it’s important not to write text just for SEO purposes, as this can take away from the user experience, which is much more important for your website overall. A good example of strong execution of good page content can be found on this web page for Gifts.com coupons:
Instead of just listing their current coupons, they provide strong on-page copy to serve as a call to action for their potential customers as a reminder to think of the important people in their lives.
Blunder 5: Mixing Up UX and UI
As stated earlier, UX is how the consumer interacts with a website. UI stands for user interface and refers to how a website is laid out. Getting these two concepts confused can lead to poor navigation, hidden contact information, and broken links. This can damage your website’s credibility and reputation with your target audience. Furthermore, with mobile browsing skyrocketing, it is important to prepare for how your users will visit your site.
UX is everything when it comes to designing a website. Start by examining your analytics to see how people are using the site. Tools like Crazy Egg provide heat mapping service which can show you exactly where on your website users interact the most.
Consider using a heat mapping service in conjunction with some simple A/B split tests, as this is very helpful in identifying UI problems early on so you can quickly fix them.
Also, be sure you lay out your site with plenty of user help options. Create an easy-to-access navigation bar with a detailed drop down menu. Have your “contact us” page in plain sight for the user’s convenience. Creating a good UX is a topic that could be taught as a full college course.
All in all, it is extremely difficult for businesses to build creditably, and ultimately profits, without a quality website. Avoiding blunders like these will help your e-commerce keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape.
About the Author:
Sam Wheeler is a Digital Business Consultant with Inseev Interactive. He specializes in website analytics and improving the digital presence of e-commerce companies.