A huge mistake that Home Service companies make is having an unimpressive website, or worse, no website at all. Despite the fact that many business owners believe their website is effective, the truth is that the same mistakes are being made over and over again.
From SEO (search engine optimization) blunders to navigational nightmares, we have seen it all. Read our list of the 10 most common website mistakes made by Home Service companies:
1. Build-Your-Own Website
You can build your website yourself and there are plenty of websites out there to help you, but do you really want to spend all of your time on it? After all, time is money and as a business owner, you are probably more passionate about other things. That doesn’t mean you have to spend $10,000 on a website, although that is easy to do also.
Instead, hire a team of web experts to create your fast, easy to update and manage, mobile-friendly website. Instead of all that time updating and worrying about your website, hire one company that offers design, hosting, maintenance, and updates in one package.
You’ll never be an expert in everything. Spend your time on the things that you do best and leave the creation and maintenance of your website to a trusted expert. You can test your site for web markup validity and best practices using this site: http://validator.w3.org/.
Ever since “Mobilegeddon,” the Google update that filters out non-mobile-friendly sites on mobile searches, the necessity to have a mobile-friendly site has reached a critical point. You have two options: you can create multiple websites that are suited to different devices -or- you can have just one site that automatically “responds” to the user depending on the device being used.
Rank higher in the search engines, make more money, and save time by having a single responsive website. This way, your site will appear flawlessly on all browsers and search devices. Regular testing on browsers and devices, however, is necessary.
3. Pixelated, Low-Quality Images
The first thing that most users see is your logo and the other images on your website. If you have pixelated, low-quality images, your site comes across as amateurish at best. Avoid this common mistake by having crisp, clear logos created by a professional graphic designer if possible. Using Photoshop, or another similar tool, you can make your pages load faster by shrinking the image down to the smallest possible file size without sacrificing quality.
Also, try to avoid stock images as this can be a sign of untrustworthiness. Customers love to see real pictures, of real technicians, doing real work. Hire a photographer for a day and have them follow your technicians around on service calls. That way, you have a library of useful images to use on your website, landing pages, social profiles, and more.
And for SEO purposes, always choose a descriptive filename for your images, focusing on the keyword you want the image to rank for. Additionally, make sure you have alt tags on all of your images. Alt tags help search engines to understand and identify images. Simply add alt=“alt tag text” to your main image tag.
4. Thin Content
With the Google Panda update of 2011, and all of the following algorithm changes to filter out low-quality content, it is clear what Google wants — high-quality, relevant content that fulfills a searcher’s desire. One way you can fix this is to do a complete content audit of your site, focusing on grammar and spelling mistakes, length, usefulness, and readability. It is important to regularly review your website for content issues.
Avoid the big sales pitches on your site like, “we are the best…trust us…we can get the job done right,” and start to focus on solving user queries. Identify the visitor’s problem or need and then try to solve their problem, focusing on the relevant features and benefits of your product or service.
5. Neglecting to Update
The other big mistake is neglecting to update your content. If the last post on your website was from a year ago or more, users may be inclined to think that your website is inactive or you are out of business. You also want to be able to show visitors what you have been doing recently and that you are capable of providing new services and technologies.
A great way to regularly update your website is to maintain a blog; but remember, no blog is better than an abandoned one. Hire a professional writer who knows your business to update your blog and promote it via content aggregation sites and social media. Not only will this help you rank for more keywords (SEO), but it will also establish you as a leader in your industry, letting your customers know that you are there to help, not just make a profit.
6. Missing or Hidden Contact and Calls-to-Action
Too often, we see Home Service websites with tiny contact information way at the bottom of the page, almost impossible to detect. Other times, contact information and service areas are completely missing. If you want to make a sale, and of course you do, make it completely effortless to find your contact information and calls-to-action.
Your site should be directing your visitors what to do next, and they expect that. If you want them to call or schedule service online, make these areas of your website impossible to miss on every page of your site. Users shouldn’t have to click too much to get where they need to go. Make it as easy as possible for the user to call, schedule service, sign up for a newsletter, or whatever else you want them to do next.
7. Missing Trust Signals
In the Home Service Industry in particular, it is extremely important to have trust seals, badges, and other indicators to instill a feeling of comfort and trust in the user. Especially if you handle sensitive customer information online, such as credit cards and contact information, you need to be able to put your customers at ease.
Your site should seem real and legitimate. You don’t want to seem spammy or low-budget. Presentation is reality. If you want to be known as a reliable expert in your field, your website needs to match that.
This can be accomplished by having trust seals such as BBB, AngiesList, HomeAdvisor, EnergyStar, NATE, ACCA, NCI, authorized dealer badges, and any other company affiliations. If you are going to have trust badges, have them directly link to the appropriate page. This also goes for social media and review site icons.
Another big mistake is to have a weak or missing About Us page. This page gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your personality and uniqueness. Tell us about yourself and why you got into this business. Pictures of the owners and staff are always nice to see. Write the content on this page as if you were speaking to a close friend who wants to know about your business, how you started, and why you do it.
8. Black Hat SEO
Yes, having the right words on your page and relevant backlinks are important, but that doesn’t mean you should be stuffing your content with keywords and gaining whatever links you can get a hold of. If this article gratuitously used the term “website mistakes” or “SEO” over and over again just because we wanted to rank for that term, you would probably stop reading, and for good reason. It’s also an extremely bad idea to pay for backlinks.
The new strategy is to have useful and compelling information with a handful of real, relevant backlinks. Google values quality over quantity for backlinks and so you will sometimes see a relatively small site outranking a big competitor because their links were honestly created and not generated through a “black hat” link farm. So instead of focusing on how many backlinks you can get, pay more attention to the quality and relevancy of those links.
In the past, SEO used to be all about backlink generation and keyword-rich content, but since Google now uses a technology known as “latent semantic indexing” and other sophisticated algorithms, they have the ability to figure out which words your page should rank for, even if you don’t explicitly write them out.
For example, if you wanted to rank for the term “business electrical service,” Google would see that your page is about commercial electrical service and you would end up ranking for both terms.
Nobody wants to read content stuffed with keywords you wish to rank for and neither does Google. Instead, write for your user and not for the Googlebots. Keyword-rich content no longer works!
9. No Social Media
Whether you like it or not, social media directly impacts your search engine rankings. Make the effort to build up your social media profiles so that they look professional and consistent. Focus on one or two channels in the beginning and build from there, but remember that an abandoned social profile is worse than none at all.
Social media provides many other business services apart from SEO. It’s also a great tool for PR and customer service, content promotion and syndication, recruiting, and brand visibility. If you have a blog and promote it on social media and content aggregator sites, that means that more links will be directed to your page, raising the amount of natural backlinks your site has and increasing your page rank in search engines.
While social media does tend to bring out the worst customers, the risks of not participating are even worse. Undoubtedly, there will be some people who speak out against your business; however, the vast majority of the social conversation will be positive. Embrace the rewards without fearing the risk.
10. Bad Web Design (poor usability, distracting colors, too many fonts)
As a general rule, you should only use 2 or 3 colors on your website. Your colors and design should not be so bright or complicated as to cause headaches or sore eyes. There should be a delicate balance between the design of your website and your marketing message. If you are too concerned with the visual appearance of your website, your actual message may get lost.
Great design is one thing, but when it gets in the way of your site’s business objectives, it isn’t doing you any good. Ideally, the design should fade into the background and help to highlight your messaging. Stay away from stacked images and videos, or anything else that will distract the user from what you want them to do — call or schedule service.
The idea is to have a design that makes a great first impression, but then as the user begins to read, it fades into the background, giving them the information they need to make the decision to call or schedule service. Make it easy for the user.
Don’t use strange or fancy fonts, too many color choices, or a dark background with white text. Your content may be amazing, but if it is a struggle to actually read the text, it’s all for naught.
Another big problem that we see over and over again are broken links. How many times have you seen a 404 error and then clicked away from the page? Most people do and if it is a customer, you may have just lost them forever. Frequently test the links on your site to ensure they are working properly.
Read our other blog posts for more information on web design and SEO:
- Website Design and Strategy for Increasing Calls and Conversions
- SEO Dinosaur: How Content Marketing is Replacing Extinct SEO Tactics
- Mobilegeddon or Mobiletopia: Your Guide to Responsive Web Design
- What You Need to Know About Google’s Phantom 2 Update