Warning: these costly mistakes are instant website killers

friday, 1º april of 2011

Warning: these costly mistakes are instant website killers

by Tom Trush

Although the following story is about an experience with an insurance agent, the lessons can apply to any industry or profession.

Last Monday afternoon I received a phone call from a local insurance agent.

We'll call him "Bob."

Bob explained he just dropped a small fortune on a new company website. Although he understood the importance of being online, Bob said he had no idea how to ensure his website generated leads. So he relied on a programmer to come up with the content and a strategy ... while creating the website.

Anticipating his new website would immediately bring in leads, Bob began paying for a monthly service that allowed visitors to get instant online quotes. Also, at the suggestion of his programmer, he started a Google AdWords campaign.

When Bob called, he was frustrated. Although his website had been online for several weeks, he hadn't received a single lead -- or even any traffic. And since he was paying for the online quote program and pay-per-click advertising, he was losing money every day.

When I went to Bob's website, several problems were immediately noticeable ...

This is one of two similar calls I received last week (the other was from a lady who spent $10,000 for a website and eBook she won't ever use). I'm sharing Bob's story with you because his situation is not unique -- far too many business owners needlessly throw away money for websites (and other types of marketing materials) that never have a chance to generate leads.

What makes Bob's situation so frustrating is he's now left with no budget to correct basic mistakes that could have easily been avoided.

I don't want to direct negative attention toward Bob's business, so I'm keeping his URL private. But here is an explanation of several places where his website went wrong (you'll notice these are the same mistakes I mentioned repeatedly in previous articles):

  • The title tags are blank. For search engine optimization purposes, keywords used by your target audience must be incorporated into the area that displays in the blue bar at the top of any web browser.

  • The content doesn't have headers. In addition to breaking long blocks of text and making the content easier to comprehend, search engines "read" headers to help determine the topics on a web page.

  • The content doesn't have anchor text. Another major factor for search engine optimization, key phrases within your content should link to other pages on your website.

  • The website doesn't have incoming links. The number of other relevant websites linking to your website is another significant factor when it comes to your search engine ranking.

  • The content is self-centered. Every sentence on Bob's home page begins with one of the following words: We, Our or __________ Insurance Agency. How is a prospect supposed to feel like his/her needs are being addressed?

  • The content doesn't have a call to action. Prospects always need direction on what action to take after reading your website -- or any other type of marketing piece.

  • The website does nothing to set Bob's company apart from his competition. For example, his tagline reads "Providing Professional Insurance Services." How is that different from any other insurance company?

  • The website doesn't have a lead-capture tool. Bob is trying to lure prospects to his home page with Google AdWords. But if anyone makes it to his website, there's no way to collect that prospect's contact information.

In Bob's case, any keywords used for search engine purposes should include geographic terms because he provides insurance services only in and around Phoenix.

The one place his programmer included keywords was in the website's meta keyword tags (which are now a minimal factor in search engine ranking). However, the terms are so broad (e.g., car insurance quotes, car insurance rates, automobile insurance, car insurance agency) that Bob is fighting for search engine space with industry giants. And there's no way he can win that battle with a brand new website.

If you have a website, learn from Bob's costly mistakes and make the changes necessary to attract prospects and generate leads.

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© Trey Ryder

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