We've been in the digital business for over 15 years, and often get asked to critique existing websites as part of planning for an overhaul.
The ways a digital presence can actually make life more difficult for a business (rather than improve it) are many and varied!
Here are 5 things we see most commonly:
Mistake 1: Building your business on social media
Social media is definitely an important way to get in touch with potential customers. Problem is, you don't own that platform. You're effectively leasing an account, but for free, which means you have to take whatever terms and conditions they dish out, and there's no recourse.
In the case of Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, they use algorithms to determine who sees your content, when and how often. This means if you manage to encourage 100 fans to like your business Facebook Page, which isn't easy when starting out, THEN the algorithms decide how many of them see your content. This might mean a particular post is only seen by 5 of those fans.
How do you overcome the algorithms? Yep - $$$. You can pay to boost a post. That's a big chunk of how Facebook makes money.
BUT - even if you boost the post with a paid ad, it still might only reach 50 of your fans. How many can you reach? It depends how much you pay, but hardly ever all of them.
If you're serious about your business, build a digital presence in a location that you have control over.
Mistake 2: Using a free domain for email
Yep, Gmail, Hotmail and Outlook are free to sign up. Free is great! Free also means anybody can create an account, including spammers. A lot of free email accounts automatically end up in spam.
Purchasing a domain name and setting up a custom email address looks much more professional, and can be as cheap or expensive as you like depending on the functionality you require. We've listed some of the Pros and Cons of a variety of email options here.
Purchase a custom domain name AND set up a custom email address.
Mistake 3: Cheap hosting
With website hosting, you really do get what you pay for. If you're running a personal blog then using the cheapest hosting you can find may be a strategic and cost-effective choice.
But for a business, it may lose you customers. Think about the last time you landed on a slow site and had to wait for it to load. What did you think? Personally, if it's too slow to load or loads with errors, I move on.
As well as potentially losing customers, Google will also punish you for a slow site, which affects your website's SEO.
If your customers are all located in Australia, it's worth investing in quality Australian hosting. If you have a global audience, ensure your hosting is configured to cater to this.
Mistake 4: Keeping "http" instead of using "https"
HTTPS means there is a security certificate installed on your website. There are a number of good reasons to ensure your site is HTTPS, including:
- Protects the integrity of your website
- Protects the privacy and security of your users. Click here for more information via Google Developers
- HTTPS adds an encryption layer of TLS (Transport Layer Security) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to your HTTP, making all traffic between a user and your website secure
- It is necessary for ecommerce transactions anyway
- Google now uses HTTPS as an SEO ranking factor
- From October 2017, Google marks sites without HTTPS as “not safe” in all latest version browsers
Install an SSL certificate. Since 2016 LetsEncrypt have been providing free SSL certificates, or there are commercial options.
Mistake 5: Not keeping your website updated, and getting hacked
Websites are attacked for a variety of reasons. A compromised website can result in impacts to the business brand, economic impact, emotional distress and potentially, liability. It may also result in the website being blacklisted by Google, or suffer a drop in SEO ranking, resulting in a potential loss of visitors.
Prevention is definitely a better strategy than cure!
Ensure your website is always updated, or if you can't or don't want to DIY, employ somebody to look after it for you.