21 Deadly Website Mistakes
With over 1 billion websites worldwide and 570 sites created every single minute, it’s an extremely challenging and exhausting job to make your site stand out. Tremendous competition, fast pace internet environment and an on-going innovation can sometimes give us a hard time.
Although it is relatively straightforward to design a simple website with a variety of Content Management Systems available to us, the vast majority of website developers and designers are still making deadly mistakes that not only affect the user experience but also search visibility of the site.
Your website is not a brochure or an online business card anymore. It is a primary field of interaction between the user and your business, and the way users perceive your brand through the site is directly integrated with their decision making.
Whether you are a web designer, developer, online marketer or a site owner, the primary intent of this post is to give you some useful tips & things to avoid in order to maximise the efficiency of your website.
1. Poor SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a set of methodologies, strategies and techniques used to increase the online visibility of a particular website and gain higher ranking on Search Engines (e.g. Google or Bing). SEO does not involve paid traffic or PPC.
Search Engine Optimisation is generally separated into three main parts (On-Page, Off-Page and Technical SEO).
Quality SEO requires a lot of work and commitment and is usually very time-consuming. Although SEO is quite a common practice nowadays, the vast majority of website owners do not invest time and money into it, which puts the site under a huge ranking & traffic disadvantage.
- Optimise every page with a unique and descriptive Meta Title (approximately 55 characters) and Meta Description (120–155 characters)
- Implement an effective usage of H1-H6 (H1 should only be used once on a single page)
- Add Alt Tags to the Images & Visuals
- Write useful and relevant content on regular basis
- Conduct Keyword Research
- Produce content to earn links
- Maximise website’s technical SEO (sitemaps, robots.txt, meta robots, structured data markup, canonicals and more)
- Avoid over-optimisation, keyword stuffing, cloaking, buying links and other “black-hat” SEO techniques
Useful SEO learning resources:
For many people, the website is the business, which acts as the primary source of income. Far too often, sites are trying to sell too much without providing enough value. Endless pop-ups, overused phrases like “buy from us” and “order now” are usually discouraging, if not supplied with relevant and valuable content.
Quote from Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz:
- Provide relevant and helpful content, earn trust and authority, and people will buy
3. Poor Navigation and URL Structure
Users wouldn’t usually make more than 3–4 clicks to get to the desired page or post. This issue is particularly applicable for larger websites with over 10,000 pages, as it can get very challenging to organise thousands of pages so that they are easily accessible. That said, a lot of small and medium websites encounter the same issue.
- You can achieve smooth navigation by using appropriate top-level pages and subpages. Instead of listing all of the pages in the main navigation panel/menu, try to categorise them under the relevant tabs.
As well as easy navigation, it is vital to illustrate a clear URL hierarchy of the website to users and search engines. A lot of sites are using page and post id as opposed to real words and phrases. By using an explicit URL hierarchy, you are making it easier for the user to navigate and search engine to crawl.
Recommended URL structure:
Non-recommended URL structure:
4. Complicated Conversion Process
Any website that has an online conversion process, whether it’s an e-commerce store, subscription-based website, online software or tool, it is imperative to make the conversion process straightforward and as easy as possible.
- Use clear calls-to-action
- List benefit statements that are likely to accelerate the decision-making process
- Avoid taking users through many different pages
5. Clarity & Titles
One of the most common issues that most sites have is the lack of clarity. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of seconds for the user to realise what the site is about. In most cases, unclear headline or lack thereof is the core of the problem, which can be easily fixed.
Ensure that the content on the site is consistent and every page and topic has a clear title.
- Make sure that the content is consistent and the topic is clear
- Select Titles & Headlines that are catchy but simple
Although the era of the 90s website design is far behind, we still see a lot of sites that haven’t been redesigned for at least a decade. It is important to keep your design up to the latest trends to keep the users engaged and excited.
- Avoid using too much Flash (unless used for videos)
- Avoid clutter and jammed information in one single place. This can result in a negative user experience
- Consider using full-width containers with modern style fonts, icons and images
No calls-to-action can be as bad as having too many. Too many calls-to-action can seem spammy, and eventually, result in a negative UX and loss of credibility and trust.
Nevertheless, calls-to-action are crucial for conversions and ROI. If your site is offering a service or a product, ensure to make it as easy as possible for visitors to start and complete the conversion process.
- Avoid too many fields in a contact form and avoid asking for too much sensitive information
- Keep your calls-to-action clean and straightforward with the right number balance
Relevant and high-quality content is a key to search engine visibility and user satisfaction. Far too often, websites fail to keep the right balance between having too much and not enough content. Barely anyone would want to read paragraphs of text that doesn’t necessarily bring value or isn’t directly related to the user’s query. However, not having enough content may cause confusion and user dissatisfaction.
According to Yoast SEO, every page on the site should have at least 300 words to stand a chance being ranked on Google and other search engines.
- Ensure to have at least 300 words on every single page and post
- Do not provide too much content if it carries no or little value to the user
- Keep your content useful and original.
Useful tools and resources:
- Word Counter — Allows you to count the words, characters and keyword repetition
- SEO Guide: Content & Search Engine Success Factors
9. Duplicate Content
Although there is no duplicate content penalty, originality, uniqueness and relevance of the content you provide plays an essential part in search rankings and user experience.
- Ensure that the content is unique and carries valuable information to the user. This would gain you more authority and trust from the user’s perspective
- Make use of rel=canonical when serving the same piece of content but in different version (e.g. viewable web version and printable pdf format)
Useful tools and resources:
- Use tools like Copyscape, SiteLiner or Screaming Frog to identify duplicate content.
- Canonicalization by Moz
10. Unoptimised & Low-Quality Images
We’re all aware that quality images can result in a wow-effect and positive conversion process. Remember the saying “Don’t judge the book by its cover”? Well, no matter how hard we, humans, try not to judge the book by its cover, most of us still do. Same applies to the website design. Low-quality and blurry images are likely to diminish the professionalism of the site.
But, high-quality images can also absorb a lot of space, which can decrease the speed of the website.
- Optimise and compress images using tools like Compressor.io or TinyPNG
- Add image descriptions and alt tags for better SEO performance
11. Loading Speed
Usually, people wouldn’t wait for more than 4–5 seconds for the site to load, unless it is the only source of information. Slow sites = higher bounce rate and dissatisfied users. In fact, loading speed is a ranking factor, and Google continues to push website owners to improve the performance.
- Choose a quality hosting provider-Hostgator and Siteground are my personal preferences for Wordpress Hosting
- Compress and Optimise Visuals & Images
- Avoid using too many videos
- Implement a quality Caching plugin
- Consider using CDN (Content Delivery Network)-Cloudfront and Cloudflare are my personal preferences
- Minimise redirects
Useful tools and resources:
- Test your website speed with Pingdom or Google Website Speed Test
- Compress images using tools like Compressor.io or TinyPNG
- For Wordpress sites, consider using W3TC or WP Super Cache Plugins
12. Mobile Friendliness
You simply must not ignore mobile search. Almost 50% of all the searches are carried out using mobile and tablet devices, and if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your business can lose substantial traffic and income.
- Invest into mobile version of the site
- Ensure that the site automatically adjusts to any screen size
Useful tools and resources:
13. Not Tracking Your Performance
In order to adjust your online strategy, it is imperative to implement relevant tools to track the performance of the site. Various free and inexpensive tools can provide valuable insights, such as behaviour flow, traffic, bounce rate, page errors, demographics, average time on site and more.
- Implement Google Analytics to track visitors behaviour patterns, traffic, audience, bounce rate and more
- Implement Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) to keep an eye on technical aspects of the site, such as sitemaps, page errors, crawl issues and so forth
14. Social Media Integration
Social Media is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools, that sometimes can determine the success of a particular business. Nevertheless, a lot of websites miss the opportunity by not integrating social media profiles with the website and not enabling share buttons.
- Encourage sharing by implementing simple social share buttons
- Link social media accounts with the site
15. Too many Pop-ups
It is usually hard to keep the right balance when it comes to pop-ups. The pop-up can be an excellent way to generate email sign-ups and social shares. That said, inadequate number of pop-ups can have an adverse effect on the user experience and credibility of the website.
- Avoid using too many pop-ups
- Ensure that every pop-up can be easily dismissed
16. Colours, Fonts and Contrast
Nowadays, there are thousands of different fonts & styles available on the web. However, using more than 3 font styles and colour schemes can often result in a bad readability and legibility.
- Avoid low contrast between the text and the background colour/image (e.g. do not use bright yellow text on a dark yellow background)
- Stick to a maximum of 3 font styles
- Keep consistent by avoiding too many different colour schemes
17. How do I get in touch?
This point is fairly obvious but, a lot of sites still encounter this issue. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of seconds for the user to find contact details. Buried contact information can lead to a negative experience and force the user to leave the site.
- Keep the contact details easily accessible. Preferably in the footer of every page along with a separate “Contact us” page
- Avoid using too many fields in a contact form
18. Sitemap XML
A sitemap.xml is the file that lists URLs of a particular website. It helps search engines to crawl and index the pages, specifically if the website is relatively new and/or has a lot of pages.
Check if you have an XML sitemap by typing: www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml
- Generate an XML sitemap (if not done so)
- Submit the sitemap to Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools to make sure that pages get crawled and indexed
Learn more about sitemaps:
19. Robots.txt & Meta Robots
A single mistake in robots.txt file can block the entire site from being indexed by search engines. Ensure that search engines are not unintentionally discouraged from indexing the site.
Check robots.txt by typing: www.yourwebsite.com/robots.txt
- Ensure not to set “no-index, no-follow” to pages that you wish to be indexed and followed
- Add robots.txt file if necessary
- Analyse robots.txt file and block folder or files (if any) that you don’t want to get indexed
20. Inappropriate Advertising
Enabling ads is a very common way to earn income through website monetisation. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that happy users is the primary goal. If your site is a part of the Google Display Network (or any other advertising network), ensure that enabled ads are relevant to the content of the site, and do not contain inappropriate or harmful information.
21. Internal Linking & Broken Links
Ensure to have an appropriate & logical internal linking structure to avoid disappointment. Add internal links if they are a part of the conversion process and/or lead to another related piece of information.
Avoid broken links. Check that all links are pointing to valid and relevant URLs, if they don’t, repair them. Broken links can have a negative impact on indexability and user satisfaction.
This list of 21 website mistakes may seem simple for some of you, but, believe it or not, most websites are still making these deadly mistakes. It is vital to acknowledge them seriously, as these points can determine the success or failure of the entire website.