The internet remains the most powerful tool to enable businesses and organisations to reach both local and global audiences via their website. As the complexity of websites increases, there are a number of common website mistakes that are made which are holding some online businesses back through lost revenue, and potentially worse still, reputational damage.
By reducing these mistakes online, you build greater trust and confidence in your products and services.
Your website is likely to be the first port of call for anyone wishing to know more about you.
If you have an online store then your eCommerce website is vital to your success with any mistakes resulting in issues further down the line.
Keep reading to learn more about the most common website mistakes people make online and what you can do to avoid them and put them right.
Website Mistakes to Avoid When Building and Launching a Website
When you’re ready to launch your website, you want to make sure everything is perfect. Unfortunately, even the most carefully planned website can have some errors left in that might get overlooked. In the items below, we have identified key mistakes we see when we have performed SEO audits for clients and especially those that come to us wanting to rank higher up the Google search rankings.
They are not necessarily deliberate mistakes, but mistakes in a search engine’s eyes that can be avoided by focusing on minor details (which isn’t always that fun for many).
In doing so, you can increase your website ranking with SEO, build up your website credibility, authority and keep your website visitors much happier too!
Avoid these mistakes with your website or find someone to help.
Failing to Redirect Old URLs to a New Domain or Updated Content
This is a common mistake made when a new website is launched or old content is removed.
Maybe the old website had a poor design or was no longer fulfilling its purpose. You decide to get a new domain name, start from scratch to keep your old site online and launch your new website once the new one is built, only to find the traffic you thought would arrive doesn’t.
Whenever you launch a new website, you must perform 301 redirects to any old content URLs or new content (whether it’s pages, posts or products) so that search engines know where to re-rank you from. It can take months to rebuild the trust and authority you once had online by making this mistake.
The same goes if you ever change any URLs.
For example, perhaps you had a blog post with a URL of:
and let’s say it pulled in 800 visits a month because you rank number 1 in Google. To keep it up to date you change this URL to:
but you forget to perform a 301 redirect to the new page. All that traffic will now be lost, along with your previous search engine ranking and you may never get the traction back that you once had.
A better solution is to keep your content and URLs evergreen, meaning they remain relevant. Using the example above, you could choose the following:
If you run an eCommerce store and you want to lose online sales quickly, failing to redirect old product URLs is one way to do it. Moving products for example into a new category and forgetting to redirect the old indexed URLs, it’s a fast-track way to lose online sales.
For example, you move your trainers into an online Black Friday sale:
and move it into your sale category:
In landing on the first URL your users will get a 404 error unless you perform a 301 redirect. You don’t want to be scratching your head in a few months wondering where the organic search traffic went.
In time, websites will re-rank for your new domain or new pages, but your business will take a hit in the interim and you might never recover the rankings you had previously.
Keyword Stuffing in Articles and Page Content
There is still a misconception out there that by writing repetitively your chosen keyword into content that your website will rank for it. Unfortunately, that’s no longer how Google or other search engines work and by doing this you will actually damage your website’s ranking.
Search engine algorithms are much more intelligent than they used to be and will spot these techniques a mile off when ranking websites. It takes more than this today to optimise your website than just placing your chosen keywords in an article as much as possible.
Yes, your focus keyword plays a factor and must be present in your content, but it doesn’t need to show up as much as you think. It’s important to keep the page content flowing and easy to follow.
Keyword Cannibalization Without Realising
Keyword cannibalization (the very phrase makes me chuckle), is actually a common website mistake that people don’t realise they are making. Whilst it sounds like something out of a website horror movie, it’s not so scary.
All it means is that you have more than one page trying to rank for the same keyword.
The two pages are in effect competing with each other in the search engine results page (SERP). It can devalue the quality of each page and its ranking factor but also it can confuse web users about which link to click in results.
This is why having a website architecture and website content plan is required to make each page and piece of content unique and not to compete against other pages on your site.
If you find that your website indeed suffers from keyword cannibalization, just refocus on what the page is there to do and either merge them together or alter the focused keyword and topic clusters to create individual pieces.
For example, you can cluster your keywords from multiple pages into one post and optimise the content accordingly, making it completely obvious to search engines that this is what this more optimised page is all about.
This is another common mistake people make online. They will copy and paste content either from other sites (this is very bad for SEO), or their own sites to pad content out. This is bad practice and will harm your website.
You might see this on people’s blogs, where they might have copied a BBC news article or something to stay relevant. Sadly, this will not do much to help you and will penalise your website for duplicate content.
Sometimes small pieces of duplicate content are unavoidable, such as calls to action and statements in your footer, this is fine. But copying and pasting large swathes of service information onto duplicate pages will do little to help you online from an SEO perspective, also, customers visiting your website will become confused.
Keep each page or content post as unique as possible and try to optimise your content as much as you can.
Having More Than One Website
There was an old SEO trick that by having multiple websites and linking to them you could improve your ranking. In the past, this actually did help, but today, you are better off having one authoritative website running from one domain.
For example, let’s imagine you run a bookstore. You would likely have an eCommerce store, customer support and perhaps a portal or community area (amongst other areas).
You are better off building your website structure as follows all within your top-level domain:
with internal links linking them together, rather than having multiple websites:
and linking those sites together.
Your website bookstore.com becomes your authoritative domain and it means all of your marketing efforts are combined and work together which increases your online authority.
When promoting your site across social media, it keeps everything focused too.
Another way of looking at it is that backlinks play a factor in how well your website ranks online, so in having one domain name, you increase your “link juice” faster and in a more targeted manner than having lots of domain names which take away focus.
No Alt Text in Your Images
This one is often overlooked and is so simple to fix and is a quick win for many websites.
A well-designed website will include images but search engines can’t understand them – because they’re images. Adding alt text to your images helps your content become accessible to users and to rank in Google images for example for keywords.
If you have a web page about or store relating to fashion for example and you have images with alt text saying:
women summer jeans
mens large raincoat
men polo shirt red
It’s clear that the latter example is going to rank better and also show greater relevance to what is happening on the page and what the content is about. It’s a ranking factor today.
Poor URL Structures
The more natural your website links, the better. Take this example, which URL is easier to read?:
You can see the second link it is much easier to understand and relevant to Cotswold Guide Books and easier on the eye.
You can also see that there is a natural flow to the website URL too. You’re in the shop, within the guidebook category and are looking at books relevant to the Cotswolds.
The URL will also be related no doubt to your targeted keywords for that page.
Broken Links and 404 Errors
This breaks the user experience completely and will damage your website ranking if it’s not fixed. It’s why performing redirects to new content is so important too as well as performing frequent SEO audits. If you click a broken link you’ll get a 404 error page (or worse a disconnect).
This might be because the web URL has changed or because the content has been removed.
Some sites will just redirect to the homepage which is better than nothing, but if you spot any 404 errors from your Google Search Console or website audit, then these should be fixed or redirected accordingly.
Some 404 errors will hurt your website more than others. For example, key pillar pages that are removed without redirects will mean that a number of other links are now inaccessible but some, are not as bad. The rule of thumb is you really don’t want any because search engines aside, it does not provide a pleasant user experience and your visitor will likely just click away from the website.
A Lack of Internal Linking and Poor Linking Techniques
Linking and link building is a key component of having a successful website today and one of the biggest mistakes and simplest things to fix is to ensure your website contains links to other pages on your website.
Let’s say you run an online support centre answering common questions and you’re writing articles to capture new leads. You shouldn’t forget, that when you write your new content, to link back to your old content, and also have your old content link to your new content (so long as it’s still relevant). You often see this with companies that run blogs, they output new content, but never link it to anything or link back – which is an opportunity missed. Linking is essential for building website authority online.
When linking to other pages on your site and anchor text too, don’t just link it on the keyword for the article, but link the whole sentence or part of the sentence. This makes it more natural. If you link often to the keyword, it can look like keyword cannibalization or can be seen as a spammy trick to influence search engines. Keep it natural and on topic.
If you have too many links it may distract users but also if you don’t add enough, it makes the page appear less important than it should be which won’t help your ranking either.
Providing a Poor Mobile Experience
Mobile usability is a bit issue today, and you need to make sure your website has a responsive design which is modern and clear on any device. This means checking that it loads correctly and efficiently whether you’re on a desktop, tablet and especially when on a mobile device.
In 2021, 55% of all website traffic and page views came from a mobile device, meaning mobile browsing is now key to any successful website. This means you need to focus on how all aspects of your website appear for all types of users.
You need to also consider that users may be on the move, so your site needs to load quickly on 4G/5G networks as well as superfast fibre broadband, so make sure you test your site from different locations ensuring you have an accessible design.
A Busy, Cluttered Website Design
Sometimes, simple is best, in fact, it’s been scientifically proven to be. Yet so many websites are overcomplicated and too busy for the user. You will see this a lot on newspaper websites for example where they are full of adverts trying to grab your attention and away from the article you are reading.
There are standards when it comes to website design. Yes, you can break the mould, but part of building consumer confidence online is meeting patterns that the user is used to seeing.
For example in eCommerce, we are used to seeing a basket when we shop online. If you run a shoe company and you call your basket a “shoe box”, then whilst it might seem cool, it breaks standard web design rules and may not instil confidence in your potential client.
It’s a fine line, because you don’t want a boring website, but you also don’t want it to be overbearing either with crazy uncontrollable animations, graphics and heavy video use.
No Fav Icon
The Fav icon is the icon which shows to the left of your browser tab. It’s called the Fav Icon because it’s short for favourite, for when a user favourites your website.
Sometimes, this is overlooked and means your website looks a little unfinished compared to others. They also help web visitors remember your site and they will show up in search engine results too. In our image example below, notice how having the wrong fav icon looks off compared to the main OJE Technology logo?
Titles Which Are Too Long
Page titles will highlight to web visitors and search engines what your content is about. However, if you make it too long, it won’t show up in the search engine results and people won’t know what it’s about and will likely click on a competitor site.
This means your page titles need to be snappy, and concise and to get to the point of what the content is about. In this regard, just think like a newspaper and write a headline which will engage users.
For example, this blog article could have had a number of headlines:
- Common Website Mistakes People Make
- Ways Your Website Mistakes are Costing You Money
- x Website Mistakes You Might Be Making
These are short, and show what the article is about. But titles like these are too long and cumbersome:
- Find Out Mistakes Your Website is Making and Then Learn How to Build Better Websites To Increase Your Website Traffic
- Website Mistakes Everyone Makes and Why This is Bad For Your Business and User Experience Online
- Is Your Website Making These Common Mistakes and Are You Worried That This Might Be Impacting Your Online Traffic?
These are just too long and won’t show up properly on the Google search results page. They’re also not focused enough on the topic at hand.
Your titles will also look different on mobile devices from how they will look if people are searching on a desktop computer, so this is worth keeping in mind too. A shorter title also looks better in the browser tab too (even though it won’t show fully).
Meta Descriptions Which Are Too Long or Too Short
Just like the title of an article, people will often make this mistake and will write too much or too little in their meta description (the part which will show up under the website title in a search engine).
Worse, some forget to complete this step which means you won’t see a natural description showing up. The content will just show with a … (dot, dot, dot) after it if they are too long.
If you think about it, it’s this attention to detail which may just well set your website apart and mean you get more clicks than a competitor.
No Keyword Research Completed
A common mistake with any website is that we think we know what people are looking for online. A website then gets built without any research and then once it’s launched business owners wonder why it’s not showing up anywhere or then want to optimise the site (which may mean a complete rebuild).
You might as well start from the right base, to begin with, so that you increase your conversion rate from day one. It also means you can determine any future design decisions at the same time too – such as seasonal changes for offers running at Halloween, Black Friday and Christmas.
Keywords trend at different times of the year, and you want to make sure you show up.
This is one of the best things you can do as part of your market research is to go deep into what keywords people are typing into Google (to learn your customer’s user intent) and then use this to map your website architecture. It also then impacts your navigation menus which play a key role in how people use your website – especially mobile users.
What you will find from this is a natural structure which means that anything you then write and provide is completed on the basis that this is what people are searching for.
The problem is that many don’t know which keywords to choose, but this should be part of your design process to learn what is happening around your topics online so that there is a seamless experience between development and launch to get some quick wins online and to keep you then moving forwards.
It also means you will limit any content design mistakes and ensure design elements all serve a natural purpose.
For example, if you want to rank for particular keywords but the page is full of images, then you are very unlikely to rank highly for that chosen word.
You can also find long-tail keywords which are more than 3 words that people are entering and target niche customers who are interested in your services before they even land on your website.
This can serve as a real gold mine for eCommerce stores and those with a clear customer persona in mind. All it takes is a little research and guidance in choosing the right keywords for your website and for what you can realistically rank for.
You can also pick up on emerging trends by doing this too, which means by the time you rank, you are ahead of the curve and beat your competition.
Whilst it can take time to perform your keyword research, it’s well worth it, because you will rank for content which is relevant to user intent, instead of creating content no one is searching for.
No Content Strategy
This mistake depends on the goal of the website. So for some, just having a small web presence with a few pages is the goal of the site, and that’s fine. There is nothing wrong with this.
If however, you want your website to rank highly for particular products, or you want to be able to find customers in your local area or internationally, then you need to define what these customers are looking for. This will help define your content marketing strategy to ensure you are providing fresh content on a regular basis, in line with your industry requirements.
Search engines like websites that are constantly adding new content to their website, especially content which is optimised and helpful. They will push these sites higher up the rankings because it means they are “alive” and relevant to the industry they serve. In other words, create epic content which is written to a standard and you can compete with anyone online if you put the work in.
Sadly, many launch a website and expect traffic to just arrive. There’s a lot more to it than that if you want to rank well in Google today. It’s vital that you set a content strategy that you can work to such as one blog a week, one blog a month, or perhaps 10 per quarter.
You should also align your content strategy alongside all of your marketing tactics which incudes videos, offline content such as leaflets and of course any social media and PPC campaigns.
Consistency is key.
Sometimes Less is More
This is a tricky balance and hard for many because it’s difficult. It’s really easy, to put too much, on a page. For example, list all the features a product can do, when really, 3 or 5 might be the most important to get the attention of the visitor.
It’s like having the fear of missing out but in a website content scenario.
You don’t want to bombard visitors if you can help it, but you also don’t want to leave out key information which makes it look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
The irony is, to rank highly, you need a lot of content. But that’s why, this article for example is hidden away in our insights area, and is not at the bottom of our website development page. It’s simply too much information for that page.
However, if you’re looking to avoid website mistakes then you may have come across this article in Google, via our mailshot, social media or someone may have shared it with you.
Everything on the website should have its place, and this comes down to how you design your site to meet your design goals, SEO goals and website conversion goals. Each has its part to play.
A Slow Loading Website
Website speed and load time are ranking factors today. There are a number of reasons a website might load slowly:
- Using shared or cheap website hosting,
- Using uncompressed large images,
- Designing web pages with large file sizes,
- Resource-hungry videos,
- Having an insecure site full of viruses, malware or spam without realising it,
- A poorly built website and design.
There are other factors but these are some of the main ones.
Modern browsers will interpret your website and the faster it loads, the better but slow load times need to be addressed as soon as possible.
By not fixing a slow-loading website, you will not rank as well which means you lose out on a lot of potential visitors. Website optimisation is a must if your site is not loading quickly today.
Hidden Contact Info
You need to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you and this means providing contact details either on each page or, ensuring it’s easily accessible on your contact page.
You can do this in a number of ways, such as providing a simple contact form, or online booking system or just simply providing your email address and contact number. You can then use call to actions (CTAs) to get visitors to get in touch.
It’s also a helpful tip to use contact forms and calls to action on all pages, not just on your contact page. This means that web visitors don’t have to do too much navigating to get in touch with you. This can increase your conversion rates too.
Of course, make sure your contact information is actually up to date! If you’ve changed emails recently or moved to a different domain, make sure your information is accurate. After all the hard work of building your website and capturing a lead, it would terrible if it all went to nothing over an inaccurate telephone number or email. It’s also worth checking that any correspondence also goes to the right person.
It just takes a moment to check.
Poor Website Security
Your website will have a lot of moving parts. You need to ensure as a minimum:
- You have an SSL certificate installed,
- Keep plugins and the core CMS software up to date regularly,
- Secure appropriate logins and access areas,
- Perform regular audits to ensure your website is “clean”,
- Clear any spam which may have accumulated (such as via comments),
- Optimise your database to remove transients and unnecessary bloat,
- Ensure your website has not been blacklisted (especially if you’ve been attacked online),
- Reset your password on a regular basis,
- Use a reputable hosting platform.
Unfortunately, the rise of online attacks means that you need to take your website security seriously.
Any website is at risk, and I don’t say that to scare people, if it’s online, then it’s a target.
This is why website security can no longer be an afterthought.
You need to protect your customer data (such as order information, financial information and more) and part of being a professional today is ensuring your website is safe and secure, no matter how boring it may be compared to creating a website design.
You need to keep your website up-to-date and secure.
I hope you’ve been reading this article going great, we’re covered! But don’t worry if this article has raised some items you hadn’t thought of or checked recently. That’s a good thing because being aware is better than not.
The Internet moves quickly, and what worked yesterday may not work today. It’s why it’s important to keep improving and keep finding ways that you can do better online. The end result is worth it because you become even more trusted and professional in the process which should lead to greater leads, sales and conversions online.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that lead to big results and your website is a prime example.