Posted on: 27 Jan 2016
Your website may not be the primary way your company generates revenue, but we guarantee you that your online presence will be used to gauge your business’s level of professionalism, the perceived quality of your product / service, and will be a factor in whether or not a visitor ends up becoming a customer. No matter what your website is used for (i.e. revenue / lead generation, education, trust building, etc.), your website is never truly finished.
You will always have to keep an eye on what Google’s doing with their search algorithm.
You will always have to keep an eye on conversion rates and user experience to keep pushing the needle.
You will always have to stay on top of design and functionality trends.
It’s easy to lose sight of what what needs to be done to keep your website pumping on all cylinders because you’ve got a million and one other things on your mind. And that’s okay! You’re the owner, it’s part of the gig. You don’t have to do everything.
However, undervaluing the importance of your website or putting it on the backburner for months on end will stifle your company’s long-term growth.
We’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years, both in the public and private sectors, and have noticed a number of unfortunate trends with business owners getting in their own way and halting the growth of their website. Look, it’s your company and you can do, or not do, whatever you want to with it. It’s yours and you are completely within your right to run it how you see fit.
This isn’t a shame-fest or a “tough love” session. We know that this is a touchy subject, but we hope that you tough it out and read it all the way through so you can learn from other owners’ mistakes. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing. We want your company to grow.
Trying to do everything yourself
The work has to get done. However, there are only so many hours in a day and you can only be in so many places at once and do so many things before you get stretched thin and your performance suffers. We know that it may be tempting to do all of the work or oversee every single employee yourself because you know that you’ll get it done, but you need to ask yourself whether or not you’re the best one to handle it and if you have the time to make it happen.
Chances are that you don’t and if you force those responsibilities on yourself, you’ll end up having to work 70 / 80 / 90+ hour weeks just to get all the work done. Then you have to worry about how long you can keep up that pace while being an effective leader, maintaining high quality work, making the right snap judgment calls every time, keeping your employees productive, and making sure that your family life doesn’t suffer from your workload.
That’s a tall bill for anyone to handle let alone an owner who also has to deal with all the administrative, behind-the-scenes minutia. Successful businesses have savvy owners who possess a healthy dose of self awareness and know when to be hands-on and when to fade into the shadows. Learn to let go. Hire people that are better suited for job and just oversee them so you can profit from their expertise.
Taking too long to pull the trigger
Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Now, you should put the right foot forward, but all you really need to do is make sure your site is functional, not god awful ugly, and get it live so you can start collecting data on its performance. With this data comes the insight to make informed changes to your layout, color scheme, content structure, placement of graphics, locations of calls to actions, etc. to push the needle and maximize that ROI we all love to see.
You’ll never know how your customers are going to react to what you push until they get their hands on it, but we do know how they’ll interact with something that doesn’t exist. The more tweaks and arbitrary “changes” you make in the design and engineering phases to push it towards perfection, the longer it takes to start getting actionable data and for you to get a glimpse of anything resembling a return.
Only focusing on the bottom line
Cost is important, but it’s not everything. We’ve seen this more times than we care to count where a client or a previous employer brings someone into the fold simply because of how cheaply they’re willing to work. While staying on budget is all great and good, here’s the real bottom line, you get what you pay for.
Cutting corners to go with cut-rate marketing will get you cut-rate results.
If you go with the cheapest marketing firm or in-house employee you can find rather than one with a proven track record simply because of the difference in cost, you’re going to regret it 99 times out of 100.
Marketing is an investment in your business’s future. How you make that investment is up to you, but in our experience, the soundest investment is with a solid marketing agency or in-house employee and chalking it up as a cost of doing business so your lead generation pipeline or revenue generation stream stays in the black.
Cutting corners to go with cut-rate marketing will get you cut-rate results and those results may end up hurting you if they employ grey or black hat marketing practices for quick pump and dump results.
Not keeping with the times
Google’s algorithm is forever evolving to provide a better experience for searchers and the last five years has been especially tumultuous with the immense number of Google algorithm updates.
What worked five, ten, fifteen years ago when you originally built the website does not work today. You can’t stay rooted in the past and think that the same online marketing tactics will serve you just as well in the future. We hate to be so blunt when we say this, but it’s just plain foolish.
It’s definitely one of those situations where if you’re not on the bleeding edge, you’re behind and if you fall behind, you will always be behind without some major investment in labor and resources to make up for lost time. If you’re not willing to make that investment then you need to prepare yourself for the long, slow, and inevitable death of your company.
Leaving problems to fester
If you, your team, or your agency finds an aspect of your site that is in direct opposition to what Google, or any search engine for that matter, looks for in a quality website, fix it. It doesn’t matter what’s on the department’s plate or what sort of release schedule you’re on, you just found your team’s new top priority. There’s no excuse for it not to be.
We had a client that simply would not hear us on Google’s hatred of doorway pages and copy / pasted content. Their reasoning? The pages brought in a jillion leads six years ago and they built their business on said pages. We showed them Google’s current stance on doorway pages, how that style of page doesn’t provide a quality search experience for users, and we even showed them how their website was being algorithmically affected by Panda because of their website’s lack of quality content (see image).
We finally convinced them to let us take a small sample of pages to show them what happens when you do them the correct way. When Panda 4.0 hit, the pages we updated saw a 63% increase in Google organic traffic and a 343% rise in generated leads which, rather than proving our point and allowing us to update the rest of their pages, motivated them to direct their in-house team to copy / paste our changes to the rest of their doorway pages. When all was said and done, they traded one set of doorway pages and poor content practices for another.
These pages, and this domain, now generates 76% less traffic and 70% fewer leads, and they still refuse to do anything about them.
When you find a problem, fix it.
Ignoring expert advice
This isn’t a simple industry, and it’s always changing, but it’s not so terribly complex and convoluted that you can’t learn about it. There is an enormous amount of free educational content that will help you have a cursory understanding of what needs to be done to your site, but if you’re not willing to bone up your knowledge so you can make informed decisions about the direction of your online presence, you need to rely on experts to do the work for you.
Whether you have an in-house team or you have a reputable marketing firm on retainer, listen closely to their advice and recommendations. These people make a living building websites, generating traffic/leads/revenue, and keeping up with current trends in the online marketing landscape.
If they’re concerned, you should be concerned.
They are the experts for a reason and if they come to you with recommendations or a plan of action that’s backed up by hard data, you would do well to hear them out. If you don’t fully understand what they’re talking about, that’s fine. Ask questions. Ask all the questions until you’re on the same page, but don’t dismiss them out of hand. If they’re concerned, you should be concerned.
Bottom line, we all want the same thing. We all want growth. We all want improved search visibility. We all want more leads and more revenue. When your website prospers, your marketers prosper whether they’re in-house or at an agency. We’re all on the same page.
The decision is ultimately yours to make, but you’re paying them for their expertise and to do the work so you don’t have to. Ignoring them equates to you burning money in a trashcan.
Your company’s website is the digital face of your business. Making sure that you’re putting the right foot forward sounds easy enough, but if you don’t give your site the attention it deserves, it can just as easily backfire and cost you business. There are hundreds of factors in play that are out of your control so you don’t want to become your own worst enemy by adding mismanagement into the mix and stifle your own growth.
Avoid These Common Pitfalls
- Trying to do everything yourself
- Taking too long to pull the trigger
- Only focusing on the bottom line
- Not keeping with the times
- Leaving problems to fester
- Ignoring expert advice
We all know the stats on how many small businesses die within the first 10 years, but if you keep these 6 common mistakes in the back of your mind, you’re well on your way to not becoming part of that ever increasing statistic. The best advice we can give you is to be proactive, stay open minded, and be willing to change when the Google winds start blowing.