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June 25, 2010

10 Common Website Mistakes and How to Fix Them

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While hosting the past few Website Optimization Webinars, I've noticed that many businesses could benefit from similar easy fixes to their websites. All of these mistakes are easy to identify for free using Website Grader. In this post, I'll show you the common mistakes I've seen, and help you in fixing the ones that apply to you.

Where possible, I will demonstrate these opportunities through Phantom EFX, a guest from a recent webinar. 

10 Common But Easily Fixable Website Mistakes

1. Page Title Longer than 70 Characters

A page title is the text shown at the top of your browser window.

HTML title tag

It is also the title of a page as shown in Google search results.

page title hubspot blog

Page titles tell visitors what a page is about. Search engines and browsers may cut off your page title if it is too long. In most cases, it is good to keep your page title below 70 characters long.

From a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) perspective, it is good to keep your page titles concise. If your page title is too long, it will dilute the importance of each term in the title. This might prevent you from ranking well on any of the words in your page title.  

Website Fix #1:
Come up with a concise but keyword-rich description of your page that is under 70 characters long. Make that your page title.

2. Meta Description Longer than 150 Characters

Meta descriptions are important for drawing in visitors from search. The meta description is the text under a page title in search results. Like page titles, meta descriptions will get cut off and replaced by "..." if they are too long.

html meta tag

Website Fix #2:
Come up with a meta description of your page that adds detail to your page title, but remains under 150 characters long.

3. Page Title not Targeting Realistic Keywords

A key factor in search engine ranking is how closely the title of a page matches the user's search terms.

Phantom EFX's home page title (pictured below) illustrates the two common mistakes in targeting realistic keywords.

HTML page title resized 600

 First, their page title is written too much like an advertisement. Users are not likely to search for the "#1" casino game publisher. Avoid unnecessary descriptive words like this, because users don't actually search for them. 

Additionally, their company name should not be the start of their page title. The first few words in a page title are the most influential in search engine results. Your want people that don't know about your brand to be able to find you, so using more genreal industry keywords is important.

Website Fix #3:
Think about (or look at using analytics) the words that users might searching to find you. Adjust your page title to remain readable, but match these words more closely.

4. Page Keywords Are All the Same

Each page on your website is a new opportunity to get found online. You don't want to waste all these opportunities by reusing the same page titles or internal page keywords.

Website Fix #4:
Diversify your keywords. Think what each page has to offer uniquely, and target keywords based on that.

5. Domain Name Set to Expire Soon

Search engines favor websites that are not set to expire for a long time. Having your domain name registered for the next few years shows committment, and means your website is less likely to be spammy.

Website Fix #5:
Renew your ownership of your domain for $10-$20 per year for a good SEO boost.

6. Images Have No ALT Text

Search engines do not "read" images. They scan primarily for text. Fortunately with the ALT tag, you can associate text with an image. ALT text does not have as much influence on the page keywords as actual text on the page, but is still worth having.

Website Fix #6:
Assign ALT text to a pictures whenever possible by adding something like the following to your HTML.

html alt

7. No CSS

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are not only a good way to ensure that your website has consistent design, they also help your SEO.

Many websites still have layout-related information in their HTML. Since HTML is the language that search engines understand best, make sure your HTML is as concise as possisble. This ensures that search engines extract the most relevant keywords and other information from your pages.

Website Fix #7:
Put your layout-related code into CSS, and take it out of your HTML.

8. Conversion Form Too Lengthy

Conversion forms are crucial for converting traffic into leads. However, more traffic will be willing to become a lead if your form is done right. Take a look at the Phantom EFX conversion form below.

conversion form

Do they really need the address information for a person in addition to their email addresses? As a site visitor, I don't understand this. Would they actually send me snail mail?

I'll bet they're better off communicating with leads via email for now, and requesting a home address only when they need to deliver something to them.

Website Fix #8:
Limit the content of your forms to only the information you need.

9. Too little (or Too Much) Text

Search engines read text better than anything else. So, it's important to have text on your web page. Knowing this, some people cram as much text as possible into a page. As a result, search engines then struggle to extract the relevant text.

Website Fix #9:
Make sure your page is readable and contains the keywords you are targeting. However, don't add unimportant text just to have more of it.

10. Not Using Analytics

Even after you've created interesting content on your website, optimized, and converted traffic into leads, your work is not done! If you want your website to be all it can be, you should analyze your results, and refine your SEO strategy accordingly.

Website Fix #10:
Install and start using an analytics program. To learn how to use analytics more effectively, take a look at HubSpot's Web Analytics Marketing Hub.

What are some other common Website Optimization mistakes you've seen?

Free Download: 2010 Online Marketing Blueprint

Free Download: 2010 Online Marketing Blueprint

Topics: SEO Analytics

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