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Alas, we live in a sinful world.
Website owners will find that there’s no shortage of articles, forums and blogs that cover the following sins about websites:
“Website Design Sins” such as poor loading times, poor navigation, poor or inconsistent layout, poor use of frames, no Meta data and browser incompatibility issues.
“Website Copy Sins” such as poor or insufficient content, pages that scroll endlessly or incorrect grammar and spelling.
“Black Hat SEO Sins” including hidden text, doorway pages, keyword stuffing, IP cloaking, redirects and duplicate sites/content.
“Marketing Sins” such as lack of urgency or a compelling offer, lack of a reason why one should act, lack of proof or a lack of a clear call to action.
I’ve been a content optimizer for 1st on the List Promotion since 1999 and while I can attest that most of the sins outlined above can be handled without too much effort, it is the “7 Deadly Sins of a Website Owner” that prove to be the most difficult to address.
These “7 Deadly Sins” usually wreak the most havoc on a website owner’s attempts at online success. Why…because in most cases, the website owner is either unaware or incapable of recognizing them.
Only when you can take a realistic look at where you are, without pointing fingers, excuses or justifications will you be able to do justice to your website.
A word of warning; as a website owner you may find this uncomfortable but in order to make a positive change for the sake of your website success, you have to be honest with yourself.
I’ll end this article with a “BEST” plan, an acronym for a four-step program to help you overcome some of these vices.
# 1 – Avarice or Greed
Avarice or greed is a sin of excess, of wanting something for nothing or acquiring more than one has earned or deserves.
No matter what your end goal is, a well designed site with a strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy takes time and money. Don’t betray common sense and expect more than you can afford.
“Unfortunately there are no standards in our industry like there are in magazine or newspaper publications” cites Flavio Marquez of Snaptech Technologies, a Vancouver website design company.
“If one wants a full page ad in a magazine or newspaper,” he adds, “one would not call up these publications and say that your budget is $300. It just doesn’t work like that. Yet, we often get asked to create an $8000 or $10,000 website with a budget of under $1500 because that is the price they were quoted by the high school student or one-man operation using an out-of-the-box WYSIWYG application.”
In short, be realistic about your goals and your budget. Then trust the professionals you hire to help you get the most out of that budget and establish a good foundation so you can follow this up later as your budget allows.
Prioritize what you need to accomplish, create a plan of action, set a yearly budget and reinvest in your website business so that over time you can expand on the work you’ve started and accomplish the goals you have set for yourself.
# 2 – Lust
Giving into lust can often lead to addiction, transgression, irrational motives and compulsion.
Simply put, many website owners become too attached or addicted to their websites and overstep the bounds of common sense by refusing to implement the recommendations given them by the professionals they hire.
You may have developed an appetite for your website and not want to give up the Flash, frames or the restrictive dedicated CMS system that you spent a lot of money on…but if they are hurting your website success then curb the urge to do or say something that might be better left undone or unsaid.
Listen to your design or SEO professionals. They are part of your team so you will need to trust them to give you the best advice. Don’t let your lust for your website come between you and your team.
# 3 – Vanity
Vanity, pride or narcissism can be obsessive and is often considered to be the most deadly of sins since it can lead to a lost sense of reality.
You must be prepared that the professionals you hire will tell you the truth…they are not there to support your claim that you have a great looking, great performing website…instead they are there to help you accomplish that end.
If you take a lot of pride in having designed or optimized your own website, it may be very difficult for you to hear the truth that your site is poorly designed or optimized and may need a complete overhaul.
You will need to lose the ego and no matter how difficult it may be, give up control of your website to an outsider. It takes a lot of humility to be able to allow someone to point out your weaknesses and then use that information to make the necessary changes, but you and your website will be better for it.
Here’s a little test.
Visitors want to know what you can do for them. So does your website speak to them and their issues or is your text self-focused and all about you? Take caution if your website text is riddled with “I, we, me, my, us and our.”
The golden rule here is; Design your website for your visitors and not for you, and keep it search engine friendly!
# 4 – Gluttony
The “Kiss” principle, keep it short and simple. Less is more.
The opposite of gluttony is temperance or moderation; remaining within the bounds of reason, yet, quite often website owners want it all and they want it now. They develop an excessive anticipation of what to expect and become over anxious.
It is this obsessive anticipation, this gluttonous attitude that drives website owners to overindulge to the point of waste or push for results sooner than they should be realized. Common faux pas include:
- Cluttered web design & layout
- Overuse of rich applications like Flash, video, graphics, etc
- Too many non-relevant links
- Not implementing best design and best SEO practices because of cost or time
- Taking a website live before it is ready
- Keyword stuffing site content
- Focus on attracting excess traffic instead of targeted, motivated traffic
- Unrealistic expectations of rankings, traffic and sales
Certainly there are others but the rule here is that everything must serve a predefined purpose and if that rule is broken then the excess needs to be trimmed.
# 5 – Sloth
Sloth or apathy is the sin of omission…the silent killer.
Without diligence and a careful decisive work ethic to budget your resources (and time) to continue the momentum you created for your website, your indifference can rob you of all the good you’ve accomplished.
What this means is that you have a responsibility to constantly be working to improve and update your website on a continual basis. As in your personal life, for your website to achieve beyond its full potential you must work beyond just what is required.
Analytics and ongoing optimization is crucial for maintaining and/or bettering your results. There is simply no excuse for not taking advantage of recent technologies that allow you to define your user experience and demographics plus understand how they found your site, when they came and what they did.
Unfortunately, too many website owners spend a lot of time and resources to have their website built and optimized and then stop there, unwilling to act any further.
The search engines are constantly evolving, therefore search engine optimization has to constantly evolve with it. Stale pages will eventually get ignored by the search engines.
Not unlike sales, it is much easier and requires fewer resources to maintain listings/customers then it is to regain lost listings/customers.
# 6 – Envy
Your website cannot be all things to all people.
Too often website owners look at their competitors with envy and discontent to the point of wanting to “beat out” or deprive their competitors even on areas that are not within or only marginally within their own market focus.
It is healthy and advisable to understand what your competitors are doing in order to understand what will be necessary to compete, but take caution to adhere to best practices and not to covet, plagiarize or imitate.
When the search engines crawl your site they review your content to determine your market focus. Your concern or market focus must be directed at your visitor, because it is your visitor and not your competitor that the search engines are concerned about.
Resenting the success of your competitors can cause you to dilute your market focus. Instead, develop a healthy concern for your visitors and the search engines will take notice.
The truth hurts no doubt about it. Overnight website success is a myth or at best, an anomaly.
Even when the truth is exactly what we need, self denial and/or our denial of the truth can lead to frustration, impatience and uncontrolled feelings of anger or wrath.
We’ve all heard stories of clients who unwittingly sabotage SEO efforts or cancel midway through a project out of anger simply because they deny or fail to acknowledge or understand the truth when it is presented to them.
Website success takes time, patience and perseverance. When faced with obstacles, difficulties, delays or simply the natural unfolding of events (time), persevere and trust the team of professionals you have hired.
As web design and SEO professionals our job at 1st on the List Promotion is to uncover the truth and share our knowledge and expertise with the website owner so that together we can create great looking and great performing websites.
To overcome the “7 Deadly Sins of a Website Owner” follow the “BEST” plan. The acronym BEST stands for a four part plan including:
B – Beginning
E – Education
S – Strategy
T – Testing
B is for Beginning. Start at the beginning. You need to step back and take an honest, realistic and objective look at where your website is at in relation to where you want to take it. Evaluate every aspect including your coding (ASP, PHP, HTML), your CMS system (if you have one is it dedicated or flexible), and the rich applications you may have employed.
E is for Education. This is where your design and SEO team come in. Listen and be open to their advice. They are there to tell you the truth, to educate and illuminate you on what your best options are for your budget and your desired success.
S is for Strategy. Your design and SEO team can help you devise a winning strategy but you must be open to change. You may not like everything you hear but keep an open mind and be willing to think outside the box. You must be prepared to let go of some of the things you’ve become attached to (that includes your web host) and be brave enough to act on the professional advice you paid for.
T is for Testing. Once the design and/or SEO work is complete, follow through. Be open to setting up analytics, testing what is working and what is not and employing ongoing optimization to ensure your website remains current with the shifting market.
Remember that without pointing fingers, excuses or justifications, in order to be able to do justice to your website you will first need to seek redemption by overcoming these vices and eliminating the “7 Deadly Sins of a Website Owner.”