It’s great that you have a website, but just having one isn’t enough. They’re not magic. If you don’t do it right, your website can actually end up as a liability, costing you sales, harming your reputation, and stalling your growth.
There are hundreds of beginner mistakes I see time and time again when I review sites for people. I’ve picked 11 of the more harmful mistakes to detail below so that you can check your own site for these and make the appropriate adjustments.
Mistake #1: Thinking that all you need is an online brochure-style site.
Brochure websites are so 90s and early 00s. It’s basically a website that has an about page, a services page, and a contact page. It’s just there to serve as a glorified, digital version of the trifold brochure. The website that serves you and that generates massive profits is one that is dynamic, educational, inspiring, and interactive. It captivates and then captures the visitor.
Mistake #2: Not collecting traffic data.
A website can’t be effective if you don’t know how many people are visiting it, where they’re coming from, what they’re doing while they’re there, and why they’re leaving.
Mistake #3: Targeting a non-specific audience.
Who are you talking to with your website? Who are you trying to attract?
You need to have 1-3 specific personas that your site is targeting. The more specific they are, the more effective your site will be as you’ll be able to drive more targeted traffic and connect with the needs of these people on a deeper level. If you’re trying to talk to everyone, or to very generic personas, then you’re going to lose.
For example, if you’re trying to target marathon runners, overweight moms, triathletes, and foodies, that’s going to be a disaster. All four of those types of people have different needs, require different messaging and different visuals, and so on. A website that speaks to everyone, speaks to no one. Get specific.
Mistake #4:Building your site on a platform you don’t control or can’t fully brand.
Your website, when done properly, is going to be a linchpin in your company’s growth. That means you must have full control over every single aspect of it. In other words, do not build your site on a platform that you do not own and do not build your site on a proprietary system that may radically change or go away some day.
A lot of people skipped the website building stage altogether in favor of building a massive Facebook brand page. Then, Facebook changed their algorithm and destroyed their revenue practically overnight.
Sometimes you’ll see a site at “fitnesspro.blogger.com” or “fitnesspro.wordpress.com.” These platforms are not fully customizable. You do not want to be limited in any way, shape, or form when it comes to what your website can and can’t do.
I’m not even a fan of Squarespace for this reason. Again, it’s a platform you don’t own and one that limits functionality. My recommendation is to build your site (or have your site built) on WordPress.org (the self-hosted version), preferably with a WordPress-optimized, managed host like Synthesis.
Mistake #5: Thinking that traffic will just show up.
“If you build it, they will come” is not how websites work, friends. Do a google search for “fitness advice.”
There you go, only 195+ million other sites competing for people’s attention. When you build your website and publish it live, you get immediately thrown into the deep end where you promptly sink to the bottom. If you don’t have a plan to DRIVE traffic, your investment is going to be worthless.
And I’m not talking about driving traffic that already found you (like telling someone on the phone to go check out your website or telling someone who walks into your gym or location to go to your website). I’m talking about traffic that is generated or potentiated by the existence of the site itself. That’s the whole purpose—find *new* traffic and *more* traffic.
By my estimation, over 70% of people who build a website for their company don’t have a traffic strategy. Then they say things like, “websites aren’t that valuable for generating leads.”
Mistake #6: Not having specific calls-to-action.
In order for traffic to be valuable, that traffic has to do something. What do you want people to do when they get to your site?
Do you want them to get on an email list? Leave a comment on an article? Listen to a podcast? Share something on Facebook? Schedule an information call with you? Buy something directly?
There has to be a call-to-action that’s extremely clear to the visitor. Decide what it’s going to be and make it painfully obvious.
Mistake #7: Not collecting prospects/leads emails.
A website (and company!) with an email list is exponentially more effective than a site without one. This should be one of the most important calls-to-action on your site. If you look at RebootedBody.com, you can see that the primary goal is to capture the names and emails of prospects.
This is especially true for health and fitness professionals. Typically, what we do and what we sell requires building a relationship with a prospect. Websites are terrible at building relationships. People don’t stay on websites very long and they will rarely return to one unless directed to.
The only way to truly capture the prospect and continue to engage with them is by having their email address. Through email, you can continue to educate, build the relationship, and eventually convert them into a lead and a client.
Understand this: The true power of a website is derived from the integration of an email list. If you don’t have an email list already setup, head over to ConvertKit and start one immediately.
Mistake #8: Inconsistent branding, unprofessional look, and off-message imagery.
Do your website colors match your brand colors? Are your fonts, font sizes, and graphic design elements consistent across all the pages on your site? Do your branding elements and imagery speak to your target market?
If your branding, design elements, and imagery are off, it’s going to create confusion for visitors. Confusion kills conversion.
Mistake #9: Nonsensical navigation.
Visitors *hate* not being able to find what they’re looking for, especially the following pages: about, contact, products/services, and locations.
The navigation should be organized, make sense from a usability standpoint, and be consistent across all pages of your site. If possible, limit the number of items in the navigation. Avoid long or complicated drop downs. Also, make sure the navigation is well-optimized for mobile.
Mistake #10: Cluttered pages or pages focused on more than one thing.
Avoid putting a lot of unrelated content on a single page. Each page should be dedicated to communicating one primary thing and that primary thing should be painfully obvious.
This helps the visitor. It gives the visitor less options, which increases the chance that they’ll take action on your call-to-action.
From a design standpoint, though, make sure your content has room to breathe. It’s okay to have a lot of content on a page as long as that content is all serving the same purpose and as long as it’s not cluttered.
Make good use of paddings and margins to create negative space. The layout must be strategic and not thrown together. Good design increases time-on-site and conversion rate.
Mistake #11: Not being mobile responsive.
The majority of site visitors are likely going to be on mobile devices when they visit your site. If your site isn’t mobile responsive, it’s not going to serve your clients in a way they expect.
It’s also important to make your site mobile responsive from a search optimization standpoint. Google is now penalizing sites that are not mobile responsive. That means it’s going to be harder for you to rank well in Google until you make your site mobile responsive.
Questions about any of these mistakes? The comments section is open below.
Kevin Michael Geary is the founder of Digital Ambition. After building three successful online businesses in three separate niches in less than five years, he turned his attention toward helping men and women all over the world start an online lifestyle business so they can escape the rat race, make an impact, and live life without limitations.