Five Reasons Your Local Business Website Sucks Really Bad
If you run a local business, you might think that your website visitors aren’t discerning enough to know a good website from a bad one. Or that having a decent website doesn’t really matter in your line of business. But that’s where you’re wrong…
Having a website matters for almost every type of local business. And having a website that sucks is why visitors abandon your site in droves…if they’ve even managed to find you in the first place, that is.
Have you ever heard the expression “first impressions matter”? Websites are no different. The truth is: People judge websites like they judge people. Just like in the physical world, an opinion is formed in milliseconds online.
When a new visitor lands on your site, they immediately want to know can they trust you before they’ll consider venturing further. That’s why no sooner have they landed on your site, they’re automatically on the hunt for trust cues. And without the personal touch and verbal cues that face-to-face communication brings, your website has a much tougher job in securing that elusive trust your visitor craves.
That’s why if your design is the equivalent of shoulder pads and big hair for instance, your visitor’s guard is up straight away. Pretty much like it would be if a potential customer walked into your business premises and it looked like it hadn’t seen a lick of paint since 1994. Once your visitor’s guard is up you’re then fighting an uphill battle to keep them on your site (unless you manage to win them over with convincing copy and psychological hacks).
Remember, your website is one of your most important assets. It exists to make your business more money by bringing you valuable leads. For that very reason, the importance of a well-designed website that can be found easily in the search engines can not be underestimated.
Yet despite this, so many local business websites are shockingly bad. From do-it-yourself website builders to sites with an utter lack of focus on what their customer actually wants, here’s our take on five of the top reasons your local business website makes customers either unable to find you (seo problems)…or makes them want to run a mile when they do (trust and conversion problems)…
You built it yourself with a self builder (from Wix to Weebly)If you built your website yourself using Wix, Weebly, or any other “free” site builder, then your site sucks. There’s no other way of putting it. The reasons why are plenty and varied: These self-build websites often perform poorly in the search engines, use ugly urls (which get less clicks), have crap template designs (which convey a lack of professionalism), poor analytics (important so that you can make better decisions based on how your website visitors are behaving on your site), limited technical support, and never-ending monthly payments.
The forever monthly payments is a biggie in our books. That means you never actually own your website. It’s always going to belong to the site-building platform that’s billing you every month. We strongly believe you need to have full control over something as important as your own website.
Otherwise you’re completely powerless when the platform decides to raise their fees. Or charges extortionate prices for much-needed service add-ons. Your only choice is to reluctantly oblige or lose a website you’ve already ploughed precious time and money into. That definitely makes for a sucky website in our books.
You’ve got a one-page website
We can’t get over the amount of local one-page websites in existence out there. We’re not just talking about dated one-pagers with gaudy fluorescent fonts that make your eyes water, or those irritating flashing animations giving it socks across your screen (although there’s more than their fair share of those kind still floating around the local cyberspace too).
We’re also talking about the fancy parallax-scrolling one-page sites – which might look visually appealing to the website visitor. But often come with major SEO-ranking issues (so therefore struggle to be seen in the search results).
So what’s so wrong with one-pagers for SEO? Here’s a very simple explanation: Google’s algorithm spiders travel along links to read the words or content on your website pages. So if website A has just one page of content with all of its services explained on that single page, and website B has 10 pages of content, with each service the business offers getting it’s own dedicated page, who’s going to likely get a bigger pat on the back in the Google rankings? And which website is giving searchers more possibilities of finding their business with separate pages explaining what they do…as opposed to bundling their entire business offering into a single page?
One-page websites have very little SEO-value. If you’ve got a one-page website and you believe you’re already ranking okay for it, then you’re actually leaving cold hard cash on the table every single day. Because the reality is you could have far more people finding you in the search engine results.
And if you’re not dissuaded with the SEO-point, there’s the trust side of things. If your site is one of those dated one-page sites, then you’re portraying to a visitor that you can’t be bothered (or can’t afford) to put effort into your website. And if that’s the case, then what impression are you giving regarding the running of your business? Justified or not, this is how you end up leaking leads in bucket loads when a potential customer knows little else about you.
Before people consider buying from you or visiting you, they’re checking you out online. That’s a fact. According to Google Mobile, 94% of smartphone owners search online for local business information . With so many local customers searching online, no business can or should be reduced to a single page. As well as limiting your findability, it seriously hampers your ability to convey your message accurately. And it results in missed opportunities for fostering that all-important trust. Which is what ultimately produces those much sought after lucrative local leads.
Your site isn’t mobile optimised
If you don’t have a mobile-optimised website as of 2016, please make this your highest priority online marketing project. Google knows that mobile searches are rising exponentially year on year. In fact, less than half of all searches are now conducted on a desktop. Google also knows mobile and local go hand in hand. Because 60% of all mobile searches have local intent.
For that reason, if you don’t have a mobile-optimised site, you’re going to eventually see your website suffer in the search engine rankings. Your website visitors expect an effortless mobile experience when they search for you locally on their smart phones. They don’t want to have to pinch and zoom to fill out your contact form, for example. And because Google is all about providing the searcher with the best possible experience (as well as the best possible answers), having a mobile-optimised site is starting to become a major factor in getting and keeping those higher local rankings.
It’s all about you
The biggest mistake made in writing copy for local business websites is making it all about yourself. Yet we see it every day in our work with local businesses. Your website exists for your customer. To answer their problem. Even your about page shouldn’t be all about you. At the end of the day, all the website visitor really cares about when they’ve landed on your site is what’s-in-it-for-me and do I trust them enough to stick around or take action?
If you’ve got a website that more closely resembles an endless proclamation of self-love rather than something that piques the website visitors interest, then you’ve got a copy problem in need of urgent attention.
From start to finish your sales copy needs to be focused on your customer not you. Customer-centric copy is at the heart of high converting websites. If you want writing that gets read and words that get people clicking and taking action, take a good long look at your website and you’ll discover plenty of areas where there’s an utter lack of focus on what’s- in-it-for-me.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s fine to sometimes talk about your business (in fact, it’s even necessary). But whenever possible, it’s ultimately much more rewarding to focus on your customer first.
You’ve no call to actions…or they’re pretty lameAccording to Wikipedia, a call to action (CTA) is an instruction to a website visitor to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now”, “find out more” or “visit a store today”. Call to actions get reactions. Yet incredibly, many small local business websites have no call to actions at all. Or if they do, they’re pretty lame.
If you want your website visitor to call, tell them to. If you want them to fill in your form, guide them there. And ask them to fill it in. Don’t just assume your website visitor will take the obvious action you want them to. That’s not how it works in the digital world. You’ve got to make your call to actions jump off the page so that your visitor can’t help but take notice. And pair it with compelling copy.
Creating a kick-ass call to action that gets results is a combination of conversion-centred design (using elements such as contrast and directional cues) and copy that gets people to say yes. We’ll cover it in detail in a later post, but if you can’t wait until then, this article from Wordstream will certainly set you on the track to success.
Editor’s note: Need help making your local business website suck less? Get in touch and we’ll show you the exact steps to transform your website from a limp online brochure into your best-performing sales person.