It takes more than a great design to ensure your website doesn’t suck. To provide a great user experience, you’ll also need to be ensuring there are no errors littered throughout your site.
Here are the 9 most common website errors many small business websites suffer from. By identifying if you have any issues, you’ll be ensuring you have a higher chance of converting website visitors, while reducing your risk of them just leaving.
9 Most Common Website Errors & How to Fix Them
Error 1: HTTP errors.
It’s highly likely you’ve come across one of the many types of HTTP errors on a website, but didn’t even know it.
HTTP errors are given when a server is unable to complete a request made by a user. What happens is, when you do something on a website, like go to a new page or submit a form, the website is working behind the scenes to fulfil your request. Sometimes, this can’t happen, due to whatever reason, which is when you get an error.
The most commonly seen error, and the one you should care the most about, is the 404 error, or a page not found error. This is when a page does not or no longer exists, and is normally the result of a page being deleted or a URL being changed.
So, how do you fix 404 errors? While they are unavoidable, there are two solutions to help provide a better user experience when 404s do occur.
Solution A: Put redirects in place.
Every time you draft or delete a page or change a URL, links to this page will be broken, creating a 404 error. One of the simplest ways to fix this is to create a redirect. A redirect automatically takes people who click on a link to that page to another page of your choosing.
Solution B: Create a user-friendly 404 page.
If a user comes across a 404 page, you should give them every opportunity to be able to find what they’re looking for. Two ways to help them do this is to provide a search bar or links to where you believe that user may be wanting to go.
Error 2: Missing or poorly written meta description.
On search engines, each result will have a short description under the link. This is known as a meta description. While the impact it has on SEO is often debated, the meta description has one very important task; to get users to click through to your website.
A poorly written meta description, or one that is missing altogether, is unlikely to convince the user to click on your website out of all the results. So, you need to create a meta description that will convince the user to click through to your site. How is this achieved?
Solution A: Don’t make your description too long or too short.
Best practice is to keep your description around 155 characters. Remember, Google only shows a few lines for each result, so you do not want something that is cut off. You also do not want something that shows little to no information, so try to keep it around this length.
Solution B: Use keywords.
Using a keyword correctly will not only hopefully appeal to the user, but Google is also more likely to highlight your site in search results.
Solution C: Include a call to action.
You are trying to sell your site to the user here, so a call to action such as ‘find out more’ is much more appealing and will help influence the user to click through to your site.
Solution D: Make it relevant.
If you are trying to convince people to click through to your blog about the 10 best indoor plants to grow, your meta description should make it obvious that this is what the page is about. It sounds silly, but if the meta description discusses fertiliser then the user may not think your content is worth their time.
Error 3: Missing alt text on images.
Alt text is primarily used to help people with visual impairments being able to have the context of the image read out to them. It also helps search engine crawlers be able to understand what the image is too. In saying this, having relevant images on your site with descriptive alt text can help boost your SEO.
Alt text should be descriptive and use your targeted keyword, but not overly loaded with unnecessary information.
Solution A: Add the appropriate alt text.
Take an image like this:
The best use of alt text here would be to write Black and white dalmatian laying outside. Simply describing the image as dog is not enough, but keyword stuffing your image’s alt text is also unlikely to help.
Error 4: Misuse of no-follow links.
When you use anchor text (the clickable text that sends you to a link) to link to another website, you are creating a backlink. We’ve previously discussed just how important backlinks are to SEO and how Google will take note of how many times your website is linked to. All of this can help give you an important SEO boost.
So, where do no-follow links come into all of this? A no-follow tag is an attribute added into the backend code around a link and looks like this:
<a href=”https://business.localsearch.com.au/” rel=”nofollow”>text</a>
This tells Google to essentially ignore it, which means they won’t crawl the link target’s site or associate the site with your own. As a result, it will not give SEO impact on the website you’re linking to.
There is a very good reason for this. In a world of black-hat SEO (unethical tactics which violate Google’s terms of service), where links are spammed everywhere, a solution was needed so the value of linking was not completely diminished. In 2005, Google created the no-follow tag and other search engines soon followed.
Solution A: When to use the no-follow tag and why you should.
Too many follow links on a website, or links to low-quality sites, may set off alarm bells for Google. It’s always best to use the no-follow tag unless you completely trust the source or believe they deserve the follow link. No-follow links will still get the benefit of user traffic clicking on the link to visit the site themselves, so it does not render them completely useless or of no value.
When it comes to internal links, such as linking your contact page on a product page, these should always be a followable link.
Error 5: Missing analytics.
If you want to keep track of user behaviour or popular pages on your website, loading analytics is the easiest way to keep track of everything. Analytics will let you know what has been clicked and when, and can even let you compare specific periods of time.
Solution A: Install analytics to your website.
Using Google Analytics is a sure-fire way to make sure everything on your website is being tracked, from clicks on your contact form to seeing how long users stay on your site.
The bad news is that interpreting data from analytics can be tricky. By using a website development team, like Localsearch, they can keep track of data and see what is working and what’s not. In fact, at Localsearch, we send out a monthly report of your website, so you can easily keep track of your analytics.
Error 6: Your website is not responsive.
Since Google’s mobile-first update in July 2019, you can’t afford to not have a responsive website.
A great looking website on desktop does not automatically mean your mobile users will have a good experience. Oversized images or font that is too small for mobile are just some ways to guarantee a user will leave your site. You will need to ensure your site is built to be used on each device, as well as browser.
Solution A: Use a QA tester.
How do you ensure your website is responsive? Use a QA tester to thoroughly check and ensure everything works across different devices and browsers.
Error 7: Spelling errors.
We have previously discussed why correct spelling and grammar is vital to sales. A good website development team should include someone to proof all content. Having a professionally written copy reflects positively onto your business, so this is a step that cannot be overlooked.
Some of the most common errors on websites is using American-English spelling or the incorrect use of you’re/your and they’re/their/there.
Solution A: Ensure professional content writing is included in your package.
If you’re hiring a professional website development service, you should have a content writer or content assistant included in your package. They will ensure everything is written to SEO best practices, as well as written well, in terms of generating leads.
Error 8: Outdated copyright year.
At the bottom of each website, you’ll typically see a business name and a copyright notice with the current year. While any work published on a website, including images and text, is automatically protected by copyright laws most businesses will still add this at the bottom.
Having an outdated copyright year in your websites footer could give users one of two impressions. The first being that the information is out of date and not as authoritative. The second impression is that users could believe the business is no longer trading if the date is several years old.
Solution A: Have an auto copyright year update.
Manually updating the copyright year seems like the simplest solution, but it can be one of those tasks which slips through the cracks. One of the great benefits of using a website development team is not worrying about all of these little things. A web developer can include code which dynamically updates the copyright year.
Error 9: Not lazy loading and optimising your images.
The speed it takes your website to load can be the difference between making a sale and a user leaving your site. While so many factors can impact speed, there are some simple fixes to put in place to help reduce load time.
Solution A: Enable lazy loading.
One solution is to lazy-load images, which means that a webpage will not immediately load every image on a page. Instead, it will only show them as they are needed. This often means an image off screen will not show until it is scrolled to.
What does this achieve? If your website page loads every single element right away, it will take longer to load. By lazy loading images, all critical information will load quicker, and images will only load when they are ready to be viewed. This could save anything from seconds to milliseconds, but ultimately should give your page speed a boost.
Solution B: Optimise your images to best practice.
Optimising your images by reducing their size can also help to improve your page speed and is another great solution to this problem. You’ll also want to make sure you are using the best file type. For example, jpegs are popular as their size can be reduced without sacrificing too much quality.
At Localsearch, our website development team not only builds you a great, functional website, but our team looks after every step so you have more time to look after your business. For more information, please contact us on 1300 360 867 or email [email protected]