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3 Mistakes Small Businesses Make in Creating a Website

June 19, 2015
Small Business
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In today’s world, customers will likely find out about your small business online. But simply having a website isn’t enough.

The site should be optimized for search engines so people can actually discover it. It also must make a great first impression if you want to convert leads into customers.

“Today, really, that’s how businesses get found, by having an online presence,” says Dafna Sarnoff, senior vice president of consumer and product marketing at Yodle, an online marketing company.

MORE: 3 Common Mistakes When Choosing a Location for Your Small Business

Small-business owners looking to create a website that stands out from the competition should avoid these three common mistakes:

1. Making it too flashy

Hiring a website designer to put together a flashy website overloaded with graphics and videos can be a mistake, Sarnoff says. You want Google and other search engines to find your message.

“At the end of the day, what you need to be is found,” she says. “If there’s too many graphics or too many videos, and you don’t have enough text, you’re not going to get found for the right things. That’s always something to keep in mind.”

Sarnoff: "At the end of the day, what you need is to be found."

Dafna Sarnoff: “At the end of the day, what you need is to be found.”

Being mobile-friendly is another important factor.

Sixty percent of adults use smartphones and tablets when searching online for information on local products and services, according to a study by the Local Search Association. For this reason, it’s crucial that small-business owners have a website that can be read easily on those devices.

“If you don’t have a site that looks good on mobile,” Sarnoff says, “you can miss out on opportunities to win new business.”

2. Leaving out contact information

It might sound like a no-brainer, but many small-business websites often fail to include up-to-date contact information, according to Sarnoff.

“When you have customers get to your site, what you want them to do is call you.” She recommends having your business phone number on every page of your site

If customers are on a mobile device, it’s important they be able to click on your number to call you directly, Sarnoff adds.

“Such a huge percent of search is on mobile, so people don’t want to have to type in your number — they just want to be able to click on it and make the phone call,” she says. “People search right when they want a specific service, so they will just go back to another listing if they can’t easily call you.”

3. Failing to solicit and showcase customer reviews

Including positive customer reviews and testimonials on your website is essential. People give online reviews as much importance as they do word-of-mouth reviews when making purchasing decisions, Sarnoff says.

“That’s what really enables you to have credibility when someone gets to your site,” she says. “So having a way to solicit those reviews and getting them on your site so people can see it when they get there is super important.”

Small businesses should also consider adding other pieces of content to their site to attract customers, Sarnoff says. Some ideas include putting up photos of the owners or some of the work that has been completed by the business, or listing some of the things that make the business special, such as how long you’ve been in business, or whether you’re family owned and operated.

“Just giving little pieces of yourself on the website is going to help you stand out from competition, and just make you come across as a real and credible business, which also ties back to the reviews,” Sarnoff says.

To get more information about funding options and compare them for your small business, visit NerdWallet’s best business loans page. For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

Steve Nicastro is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @StevenNicastro.