I work with a lot of small business owners and entrepreneurs who manage their own websites — they’re making common website mistakes.
Most of them hire me (or someone like me) to create their initial website presence. Then, once the site launches, they take over management and control of the website on their own and only request outside help when they need to make big changes or have a problem.
This isn’t a bad thing.
One of the great things about online marketing is that you can learn to run an effective and professional digital presence on your own.
But when I connect with clients in this situation — clients who have been managing their website on their own for a while — I usually spot a few problems.
I see small website mistakes that can have a big negative impact on their digital presence.
So if you’re managing your own site, review this list to make sure you aren’t making the same mistakes I’ve seen.
Related: Why Simple Websites Work Best
Website mistake #1: Publishing Duplicate Content
Busy entrepreneurs and small business owners want to keep their website filled with fresh content but often don’t have the time to craft original, new blog posts and pages.
So, they decide to copy articles from other websites or blogs to showcase on their website. This isn’t a malicious attempt to steal someone else’s work. Some of these clients even cite the original creator of the content.
But that doesn’t make publishing duplicate content okay.
You shouldn’t copy and paste content from one website and add it to your website without permission. Doing this can get your website penalized by search engines. It’s a big no-no.
Website mistake #2: Sending Readers Off the Page
Most of the website managers and content creators I come across know that linking to outside resources adds credibility to their content. They add links to sources of information and to guide their readers to information that further elaborates a topic.
But they often make a small mistake in the process.
The outbound links are usually not set to open in a new window. The links open the new page and close out of the client’s website.
While it’s good to add outbound links, you don’t want those links to send users away from your website.
Outbound links should always be set to open in a new window. That way when readers click on the link, they’ll be connected to the webpage in another window. Your website will remain open, reminding the reader to come back to it.
Website mistake #3: Not Formatting Content for the Web
Many of my clients, particularly entrepreneurs who have expert knowledge on a specific topic, write blog content. This is a great practice. Regularly writing blog content is how you engage readers and appeal to search engines.
But it’s not just the words on the page that are important; it’s also the formatting.
A lot of the content I see is written as big, chunky blocks of text, which are hard to read online.
Blog and website content should not be written as big blocks of text. Digital audiences don’t read online content the way they read printed materials. They like to skim content and browse sections of digital content. So, copy should always be made up of small paragraphs (1-4 sentences) and sections divided by subheads so readers can skim the content.
For more on how to format your content so it’s easy to read online, read Pamela’s post on Copyblogger, 8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content.
Website mistake #4: Using Automated Permalinks
Another common content problem I see entrepreneurs and small business owners make is related to permalinks. Permalinks are the words and characters that make up a page’s URL (i.e. simplystatedmedia.com/permalink). Most website content management systems automatically create these URLs when a page or post is created, and many website owners use the auto permalink.
Using the automated permalink won’t hurt your site, but it also won’t help your website.
Auto permalinks usually put all of the words from your page title into the URL. This creates unnecessarily long URLs that are not SEO-friendly — or reader friendly.
It’s better to customize the permalink and shorten it to include the keyword and one or two other words that closely relate to the topic of the page. (Check out the permalinks on this site to see what I mean.)
Website mistake #5: Failing to Make Updates
Many of the website owners I encounter get a little nervous when it comes to technical changes or updates with their site. They are comfortable with making changes to content and updating the blog, but they don’t like to mess with the technical side of things.
This leads many website owners to ignore updating their site. They leave their website mistakes in place!
They ignore notifications that advise them to update their content management system, WordPress theme, or plugins. They disregard updates that would improve their software, fix bugs, and resolve security problems.
Sadly, failing to make the updates leaves websites vulnerable to virus and compatibility issues. Website owners should regularly update their site themselves or hire someone to do it for them.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners: take control of your website
I encourage my clients to learn how their website works so they can make simple changes and understand how to talk to and manage developers and content creators.
I hope this list has helped you identify problems you may be making so you can move forward with the knowledge and skills to create a killer online presence.
Identify even more website mistakes with my full Website Content Audit Checklist that includes dozens of other quick tips for improving your site.
Are you managing your own website? Were you making any of these mistakes? Let me know in the comments below.