8 Fatal Website Mistakes Made by Small Business Owners

shocked male office worker

How trustworthy does your business appear to be online?
Today, your website is a credibility statement about your business. Yes, you heard me right. Whether we like it or not how potential customer’s view your website is how often how they see your business.

Unfair? Yes. Accurate? Also, yes.

And, although I am sure that your business is much more than just your website….think about it….for a large number of new, potential clients their first experience with you is very likely to be your website.

So here is a list, certainly not a complete list, but a list of items that I strongly believe can improve the credibility of your website, and in turn your business, in the eyes of potential new clients.

Website Has No Personality

Unless you are Amazon, Ford or Walmart you need to show your visitors who you are.
In order for people to do business with you there needs to be a trust factor. This is even more true online since they have not met or spoken to you.
And in order to achieve that trust factor people first have to get to know you….then like you…and then finally, trust you.
And although most of us love our technology (Yes, I am guilty as charged 🙂 ) people still want to do business with people. They often want to know who are the people behind this business.
Remember, there is a reason that the second most visited page on almost every website, after the home page, is the the About page. Make that page count.
Tell your story. Explain your journey. Show some personality and use it to connect with your audience.

Value Proposition or USP is Unclear or Unknown

Do you know your USP or value proposition? Unfortunately, many small businesses do not.
How can you hope for your website to clearly convey your USP if you don’t even know what it is?
Most small business owners do not spend enough time thinking about their USP and how they might effectively and clearly communicate it to their audience.
When I come to your website I need to know:

  • what makes your different?
  • what is the benefit to me if I do business with you?

Your USP is not great service….everyone has great service. Your value proposition is not competitive prices….everyone has good prices.
What makes you different? Why do I want to do business with you and not your competitor?
This is something many sites fail to properly communicate to visitors, maybe because they don’t know what separates them from their competitors, or because they’ve not given this area the attention it deserves.
If you don’t know your USP then spend some time now and brainstorm. Ask your existing customers why they did business with you. Ask them what they think makes you different. Sometimes just asking is a great place to start.

Poor choice of domain name

For many of you it may be too late to change this, but if you have not yet launched your website, or you are in a position to change your current URL then please do it.
Make your website address….

  • easy to remember
  • easy to spell…you should not need to spell it every time someone asks for your website address
  • as short as possible (as long as it makes sense to your business)
  • reflect your business name or category (if possible)

And don’t try to be too cute.

Non Existent or Hard To Find “Call To Action” (CTA)

So, first of all, let’s make sure we all understand what is a Call To Action or CTA?
This is where you ask your website visitor to do something that will benefit both you and them. If you have a newsletter it would be in the form of a sign-up where they can provide their email address in exchange for getting your free newsletter.
Other examples of CTA’s are:

  • Sign up for a free trial of your product or service
  • Sign up for a free assessment or evaluation
  • Providing 3 options and asking the visitor to choose one
  • Sign up now and get this free gift as a bonus

And finally a great example from Quick Sprout where they use this CTA to let the customer decide which direction they want to go. This helps the customer but also allows Quick Sprout to provide the right information based upon the choice they make. This also can reduce the likelihood that they will bounce off the page before taking action.

Call to action example

Building your email list might be the single most important activity you can undertake to grow your business and how well you design and deploy CTA’s on your website will determine how effective you are at building this list.
And when considering the design of your CTA make sure to consider more than just the button itself. It’s also extremely important to consider elements such as the background color, surrounding images, and surrounding text. I am always amazed at how much a small change in CTA design can improve its overall effectiveness (conversions).

Poor Imagery or Stock imagery

This one is a personal pet peeve of mine. How can you possibly hope to differentiate yourself from your competitors if the images you are using on your website can be found on twenty thousand other websites?
Spend a little money, invest a little time and make your imagery unique to you and your business.
If you are going to have photographs of yourself, your showroom or your products make sure they are taken professionally. Remember what we said at the very beginning of this article…your website is a credibility statement of your business and a picture is worth a thousand words.

Bad Navigation

If I can not easily and quickly find what I am looking for on your website I am leaving and never coming back.
Being successful online is not just getting the right traffic to your website. That is certainly an important start, but what is even more important is when they get to your website making it easy for them to find the information they need.
Your navigation must be clear and concise. Keep the clicks to a minimum. Make your most important information easy to find and easy to get to. Two clicks or less is best practice.
And don’t forget once you get them to the page make sure you have the helpful and informative content they need and then provide a CTA and a great offer so you get an email address so you can continue marketing to me in the future.

No Analytics Installed

In my opinion this could very well be the number one mistake that I see over and over again made by small businesses on their website.
And for this there is no excuse. Google Analytics is FREE! It doesn’t get any better than free.
And the information it can provide you with is invaluable. Here are just a few of the important metrics it can provide:

  • Number of visitors to your website
  • Geographical Location of visitors
  • How long did they spend on your website
  • Which pages receive the most visitors
  • How did they find your website
  • What device did they use to come to your website
  • How much traffic is your social media driving to your site

And this just scratches the surface. This kind of information is gold. It will tell you what is working well on your website and what areas need improvement or change.
Analytics provides the measuring stick to see how you are doing in terms of reaching your online goals.
If you only do one thing after reading this article please, please do yourself a favour and install analytics.

Hard To Find Contact Info

It shocks me how often I visit a website and then have to search for how to get in touch. Where is the phone number? What about an email address?
You have paid good money to design your website….you invested even more money to get traffic to visit your website…for goodness sake make it easy for them to get in touch with you.
And today a toll free number is so inexpensive there is no excuse for not having one.
Do not give your website visitor any excuse not to get in touch with you.

Your website should always be a work in progress. Don’t ever be completely happy with it,
Test and measure the results. And then refine and improve the website experience based upon those results.

I hope you found this article helpful. Your comments and feedback as always are appreciated.

And remember…always Dream, Plan and then Act.


Sign Up Now for my Monthly e-Newsletter
Sign up for my newsletter and continue to get insider tips and strategies for your digital marketing.
PLUS I’ll send you a FREE chapter of my latest ebook as a thank-you.

Copyright: gpointstudio / 123RF Stock Photo


  • Have you ever considered about including a little bit more
    than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all.
    But imagine if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this blog could certainly be
    one of the very best in its niche. Superb blog!

  • Steve Loates says:

    Thank you for the kind words. We are planning on incorporating video posts very shortly.

  • I’ve recently started a web site, the info you provide
    on this web site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for
    all of your time & work.

Leave a Reply