By Bill Nixon
Perhaps you have attempted (maybe more than once) to have a website. You may have signed up late at night on one of the countless web hosting plans that are on the web and for only $7.95 you were up and running. Or maybe you went all out and hired a web designer spending a thousand dollars or more having them build your site and shopping cart.
You dreamed of that customer hundreds of miles away logging into the Internet, searching on Google or Yahoo and easily finding your offering. You thought of how many more clients you would have and you thought to yourself, "if I could just get one extra client per month from my site, then I would make $XX, XXX.XX more money." So you built your site and waited and waited.
But no one showed up. You haven’t even gotten one single customer from your efforts and expense. You failed on the web. You joined the ranks of millions of others that have gone before and will go after you. Your website failed.
You are not alone. Out of the almost 56 million websites on the web, fewer than 500,000 of them have any real traffic to speak of. Let me say that another way. There are over 55 ½ million websites on the Internet that are complete failures because they have no real traffic. (People coming to the site). So if you have been one of those 55 ½ million, don’t worry, it happens to all of us.
What is failure?
What is failure? Quite simply, a website with little or no traffic is a failure. Without traffic on your site, then how could anyone ever contact you or hire you? How can they find out about your offering or product? How would they know where you are located and that you have the exact thing that they are looking for?
Let’s examine the reasons that websites fail on the Internet and begin thinking about how we can avoid these normal pitfalls in creating our new site or revamping a current site. Below you will find the 10 main reasons that websites fail.
1. Websites fail because of lack of content. In my opinion, there could not be a bigger reason of why websites fail on the Internet today than lack of real content. Content needs to add information to the web. It needs to add value to the web and be something fresh, new, or a differing opinion. Content is writing about your particular subject or offering in such a way that it helps your rankings with the major search engines.
I am not talking about sales pitches here. I am talking about writing real content on your site that answers a question for a searcher. You have to remember that people on the web are looking for information, not you. When they put in a search phrase like “homes in Charleston, SC” they are looking for information, not a particular real estate agent.
Search engines will analyze your site to see if it offers answers to particular searches that are made through their services. If it does, then for that set of keywords, you may be ranked (and ultimately get more traffic.) If it doesn’t, like the great majority of sites on the web, then you will never be found.
2. There is a general lack of planning before signing up for a domain. There are so many people that sign up for a domain by selecting domain names like, “haylorchurch.tv” or “bobsmithscrealty.net”.
There are almost no bigger mistakes to make than to sign up for the wrong domain. Why? People on the web are not searching for things like “Bob Smith”; they are searching for “Charleston homes for sale.” And in the above example of Haylor Church, the domain screams, “the .org was taken, so I took the .tv that was available.” Both of these examples are big mistakes. Your domain name should answer a question that is being asked and describe your offering. It should describe action, not identity.
Sure, Yahoo and Google don’t have a name that answers a question, but you are not Yahoo or Google. You are just someone who has a site and you would like to make some money off of it or draw new church attendees or meet new people. Whatever the case, you should choose a domain name that is descriptive of your offering and the overall theme of the site.
3. Most website owners don't update or proofread their sites. I know that it is hard to believe, but there are lots of people who spend thousands of dollars on a website only to let it sit there and do nothing for them. I cannot tell you how many sites I have visited with glaring mistakes in language, verb usage or vocabulary. I have seen the English language torn apart on supposedly professional websites. I have visited sites with tons of broken links instantly turning me away, never to come back. When people click away, they won’t come back.
Not much will make a surfer click away from your site faster than errors and broken links. Those problems are so easily fixed, but people fail to check their sites on a regular basis. However, just having a grammatically perfect website is not enough. You have to be constantly adding and updating your information to it so that the Search Engines will want to keep putting you at the top of their lists. When the Search Engines visit your site with their spider programs, they look for the last time the site was updated. The more it is updated, the better ranking you will enjoy.
4. Websites fail because of too many banner ads, colors, flashy text or external links. Websites that look (and are) one huge ad or one big sales pitch will usually fail. Why? People see hundreds of ads each and every day on billboards & TV. They hear them on the radio while they are driving and they see them all over the web. If your website is not focused on what you do, then surfers will click away.
There are tons of other websites that will create banner ads for you to place on your site. Don't do it. They don't work, they won't make you any money and you are just helping that company's search ranking. Only provide external links on your site that help your business because an external link is a way for the surfer to leave your site. They can get distracted and not ever return to your offering.
5. Way too much money is spent for a website, hosting, setup and domain name. There are some web designers who are making an absolute fortune on the public just because they don’t understand how the web works. Hear what I am saying here. Your investment in your website should be like other business investments that you make. For example, let’s say you are a water ski retailer. You consider bringing in a new line of water skis. Would you immediately buy thousands of dollars worth of skis without knowing if they will make you any money? Of course you wouldn’t. You would bring in a few, test the waters (pardon the pun) and as they made you more and more money, you would increase your inventory.
The same applies to the website, which is just an advertising medium. Start out with a simple, but professional design. Don’t spend a lot of money on it at first. $500 for your first year is very reasonable. Then, as the website brings you customers and clients, you increase your offering perhaps by adding a shopping cart, or more fancy graphics.
6. Website owners don’t spend enough time researching keywords. Keywords are an important part of how a Search Engine finds your website. Choosing the right keywords doesn’t mean coming up with a list in your head. It means spending some time using web-based tools to help you find what people are actually searching for when using the Internet. Wouldn’t you like to know what people are searching for before writing pages on your website?
There are so many tools out there that it is beyond the scope of this article, but as a reason for failure, this is one of the big ones.
7. People do not spend time optimizing their pages to be found by search engines. Many people will pay for a "Search Engine Optimizer" (SEOs) that will get them to the top 10 on Google, Yahoo, and MSN. They do this before writing good content, analyzing their own keywords, and making their sites user friendly. The S.E.O. companies that offer these services are keying in on the fact that most people are ignorant about how a site gets into the top positions on the major Search Engines.
Let’s get something strait. Search Engine Optimizers cannot and will not get you into the top ten for the words and searches that you want. If they could, then everyone would use them and everyone would be in the top ten. Please remember that only 10 can be in the top ten for each keyword search and those are the ones who have built their pages with the content that puts them there and keeps them there. If an S.E.O. (Search Engine Optimizer) does get you to the top ten for a day or so you won’t stay there long.
The best computer engineers in the world work for Yahoo, Google and MSN and they will not be tricked into letting you into the top ten, the top thirty or the top 1,000 for that matter. They will let you in if your page offers relevant content that their searches are looking for though. And, once you make it into the top ten the honest way, it is really hard to drop out of it.
8. People that have websites don't respond to visitors in a timely manner. It simply baffles me, people do not respond to inquiries on from their websites. Recently, I contacted several real estate agents when I was moving. I was relocating to Charleston from Denver which is 1,600 miles away and I found some agents that I thought could help me out in finding a home. I sent emails to them all (about 5 of them) and only one emailed me back within 24 hours. The others either waited over a week or did not email at all. That is a whopping 80% with poor response times.
I cannot tell how this will kill your business. Of course I chose to work with the one that did contact me and we were in a home within 60 days. Point is, you have to email visitors back quickly or they will find someone else. Not only do you need to respond quickly, you need to respond professionally and you need to let them know that you read and understand their email. You should include all of your contact information and you have to use 'spell-check'.
9. People fail to register their sites on the local search engines: Did you know that the major Search Engines are pouring millions of dollars into developing their local searches? What does this mean? I believe that in three to four years, the major SE’s will overtake the Yellow Pages as the number one medium for searching a local business. Engineers are working around the clock now to create formulas that will point searchers in the right direction and towards local vendors that can meet their needs.
Everyone from dentists to hair salons who don’t show up on the local search will be at a disadvantage. In my estimate, a full 90% of sites are not showing up in the local searches and will be passed by their competition very soon.
10. The biggest reason that websites fail is when people do nothing. Yes, there are so many things you can do wrong that will make your website basically useless, but the worst one of all is not having a site. Today people surf the web. This is just a fact. The Internet is no longer a luxury; it is used daily by millions and millions of Americans. They are searching for your help right now and if you don't have a place on the web where they can find you, then they won't.
About The Author
Bill Nixon is a website designer, owns a hosting company and manages several sites for businesses and nonprofits. His latest project is here http://www.real-estate-agent-website.com. You can also find his web design and development company here: http://www.sc-site.com.