Why Small Biz Websites Fail
Bill Quinn
Bill Quinn

Internet Consultant, Senior Copywriter, Web Developer

Websites 101: Why Small Biz Websites Fail

So your started your small biz websites—just like everyone advised you—and launched it with dreams of eager new customers rushing to your site in with cash in hand.

But it just didn’t happen.

When small biz websites fail, it hurts. Instead, your site is a real bust. You get very little revenue from it, few if any leads, and you’re wondering if it’s worth even the $15 monthly hosting fee.

The good news is…small biz websites CAN work, including yours.

You just need to identify the problems and come up with a serious plan to alleviate them.

We’ve been helping small businesses build websites since the mid-1990’s, some built from scratch, but many as revamps of existing designs. It was quickly clear that failed websites share certain characteristics.

In This Article, We’ll Cover:

  • 8 of the More Common Small Business Website Problems (You will have at least 5 of these!)
  • What You Can Do to Fix Them
  • Your Next Steps

Reasons Small Biz Websites Fail—(Recognize Any of These?)

Reason #1: Poor Design (AKA The “Ugly Site Syndrome”)

Many small biz websites just don’t have the professional look and feel that customers are looking for. They’re poorly designed, dated, unattractive, uninteresting, and hard to navigate.

Unfortunately, that’s probably how your visitors are led to believe about your products or services, too. If you’ve got an ugly, ill-performing website, why should anyone think your products are even worth considering?

Why small biz websites fail: boring contentWhen a visitor comes to your home page you’ve got about 4 seconds to convince them to stay and look around. Four seconds!

What are you doing to make them stay longer?

More importantly, what are you doing to get them to drill down into other pages on the site?

Not sure this is a problem for your particular site?

Check out your site’s Bounce Rate in Google Analytics.

A high bounce rate means you’re were not able to convince the visitor to stay and act on your call to action (i.e., sign up for emails, buy your product, contact you, etc.)

If your bounce rate is over 50% (meaning that more than half of your visitors leave the home page without drilling down), then more often than not the way your page was designed–graphics, structure, etc.–is at fault.

Incidentally, a bounce rate of 26 to 50% is excellent, 51-70% is average, and anything over 70% should be cause for alarm.

Reason #2: Unqualified Web Development Team
If you didn’t hire professionals to create your website, that is often one of the reasons it eventually fails.

Frequently we see small business owners who, on a restricted budget, tried to cut corners on their website by hiring unqualified developers willing to do it on the cheap.

Cheap is usually a red flag in when you’re putting your site out to bid. You may save money initially, but you pay big in missed sales and opportunities down the road.

Is that what happened to you?

why websites fail: lask fo a good web design teamA qualified web developer will not only bring you the designers and writers you need to communicate well with your prospects, but will also ensure that your site meets all the current technical standards.

He or she will build SEO (Search Engine Optimization) into your site from the very beginning, so it can gain ranking with the search engines.

They will help ensure that your page is loading fast (Google penalizes for slow loading pages), that there are no missing or broken links, and that the site can be easily crawled and indexed by leading search engines.

If your web team was less than proficient, then that could be why your site is being ignored in the search engine rankings today.

Reason #3:  Not Mobile Friendly

In 2016, a significant milestone was achieved by the Internet. For the first time, more people accessed the Net via mobile phones or tablets than by desktop computers.

Yet sadly, many small business websites are still not set up to handle mobile users.

As a result, mobile users see jumbled graphics, missing copy, forms that don’t work and customer experiences that make one want to leave the offending site as soon as possible.

Is lack of mobile friendliness keeping your traffic numbers low?

If small biz websites are more than 2 years old or so, that could be one reason site owners are not getting the traffic they expect.

Today, almost all web developers and web designers take mobile access into account right from the beginning of the process.

But older sites may not have had the same attention to mobile.

It’s easy to test. Simply access your small biz websites over your cell phone. Do they look as attractive as your desktop version? Are the graphics proportionately sized?

Do videos play as they should, or do you see large black boxes where your videos should be?

If the site is loading slowly or if the page is jumbled, your web designer may need to make some tweaks to the backend of the site–not that hard to do if your site software is recent.

The older your small biz websites, the more challenging the job might be to get them updated so you can serve this huge and quickly expanding mobile audience that is potentially ready to do business with you.

Reason #4: Poor or Inadequate SEO

Even the most beautiful small biz websites can become a dismal failure if they’re not optimized to rank well in the search engines.

Avoid site failure with strong SEO

If you’re not seeing traffic to your site, is it because you’re not on page one of the top search engines for your primary and long tail keywords?

Does each page have a unique title? You’d be surprised at how many sites we run across where an ill-informed designer used the same page tile for multiple pages.

Google will penalize you for duplicate page titles, so if that’s a problem, it needs to change asap.

Likewise, how are you using keywords to ensure that your pages get high rankings? Has a qualified SEO specialist looked at your pages to make sure your SEO strategy is on target and up to date?

Remember, what worked in SEO as recently as a year ago may not actually work today.

Incidentally, regarding keywords: how do you know that you’re using the RIGHT keywords, those that will bring you both rankings and visitors?

What keywords are you missing, and how many should you be using? Where should they appear on your website?

Reason #5:  Inadequate Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the main factors that the search engines look at to determine where you should rank in their lists for various keywords.

A backlink is essentially a link on a site other than your own…to a page on your site. It can be a text link or image link. But it’s now one of two very key factors in determining where you rank.

So if you’re not getting much traffic, check out how many backlinks you have. There are numerous sites online where you can do that at no cost, including:

Your backlinks should be relevant to your products, services or industry, and should come from sites with high authority (meaning the search engines place high value on the content published on those sites).

If you don’t already have a backlink program in place that is constantly seeking out potential backlinks for you, don’t put off doing this.

Without the right kind and number of backlinks, you site will just not get the traffic you’re looking for (unless you pay for it and that can be expensive).

We can help you create an ongoing backlink program that fits your needs and your budget.

Reason #6:  Your Small Biz Websites Have Poor Content

How’s the content on your site? Lack of good, value-serving content is another of the main reasons so many small biz websites fail to attract both search engine rankings and traffic.

Are your sites free of common mistakes made by WordPress beginners?

Is your content customer oriented, or does it only speak to you and your company? Does it solve common customer problems? Is it interesting—or dull as an old knife?

Is it so valuable that prospects and customers keep coming back time and again, and recommending it to their peers?

Do your small biz websites include a blog? How often do you post articles?

Does your content include lots of informative graphics and photos? Is it easy to read?

Does it pass the readability minimums tested by Yoast SEO and others? Do you have Rank Math SEO (our Preferred) tools on your site?

You should. They’re invaluable in helping to ensure your content is easily read and comprehended by your visitors.

When is the last time you’ve had someone take a long and objective look at your content to determine how it might appeal to or turn off potential customers?

You should do that without delay.

Reason #7: Poor Social Media Marketing

Your small biz websites are where you do business. Social media is where you engage with your customers and prospects.

If your social media program is meager or non-existent, it’s no wonder you’re not getting traffic.

Social media has all kinds of benefits for your business:

  • It expands your marketing reach by touching customers who would otherwise never see you.
  • It impacts your SEO in a positive way.
  • It builds strong brand loyalty and customer engagement.

Social media lets you repurpose much of the content on your website to put it in front of millions of new prospects worldwide.

Imagine taking a blog article and turning it into a great 30-second video that you post in front of countless viewers on Facebook, YouTube or any of dozens of other social media outlets.

Most importantly, social media helps you cultivate customer relationships over a long term, boosting customer retention, brand awareness, and loyalty.

No matter how large or small your business, there are benefits you can start enjoying almost immediately when you launch a strategic and consistent social media program.

So don’t put it off. Here’s a great video on the topic: How to Start Social Media Marketing (4 Tips for Beginners) 

Reason #8: Lack of Time

Let’s face it. The clock is against small businesses right from the beginning. Only around half of all new businesses make it to their fifth year.

You’re running fast in those years just to keep your head above water, putting systems into place, hiring and training personnel, and doing 1001 other things to keep the doors open.

So it’s no wonder that so many of us are finding it hard to launch, maintain and constantly tweak our marketing programs.

Need more info on why small biz websites fail? Check this video.

Small Biz Websites work when you work on them.

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