Your online site is a portal into your business and everything you stand for. It should engage users, encourage them to explore what you have to offer and provide the shortest route possible to a conversion whilst also being entertaining, informative and engaging.
No pressure there then.
Practices to Avoid When Adding Content to your Website
We work on a lot of websites for businesses and there are some things that we are asked for time and again which are not generally considered good ‘web’ practice. Whether its infringing copyright, throwing in a few pop ups, or failing to put in contact details, there are a few don’ts in the online world that you should bear in mind. Here is our quick guide to good practice when commissioning a new website.
Don’t Take Images from Other Sites
It’s pretty easy to do, you simply search on Google, choose an image, download it and put it on your website. First of all, because an image is easy to download onto your computer doesn’t mean that you have the right to use it. You don’t. This is someone else’s property and with our without a notice it will be copywritten. There are a multitude of stock sites from which you can purchase images for your website, just read the terms as not all licences cover commercial use, even if you have paid for the image!
Don’t Copy Content and Paste It on Your Site
While using images without permission can land you with a nice court case, copying and pasting someone else’s content onto your site has the same consequences and is rather pointless to boot! Google does not like duplicate copy and will penalise your site if you practice this kind of thing. You might want something similar so you will have to rewrite the content to make it unique. That goes for all kinds of content from your catalogue to your blog posts. Top tip: go for something different, add opinion, stats and if you do use a small snippet from another site, link to it and credit the owner as a quote, giving you a valuable (do your due diligence) outbound link to a high reputation website.
The two examples above are perhaps the most frequent inclusions that we get asked to do. It comes down to an issue of copyright infringement – that’s where you take content, including text, images, music and infographics, which are not yours and pretend they are. It’s called plagiarism and can get you in more hot water than it’s worth. Not only that, it can have an adverse effect on your search engine ranking.
There are other practices we advise you should also try to avoid:
Pop-ups: These are still being used by quite a few companies. You go on their webpage and a notice jumps up to subscribe to a newsletter or buy a product. Take our word for it, users find this kind of practice annoying. It distracts them from what they came to your site for in the first place and can get them clicking the back button and heading somewhere else very quickly.
Playing automatic audio: Back in the day when web pages first began, playing a little tune or promo was all very hi-tech and quite widely used. Nowadays, people prefer to make their own choices and click on links for audio rather than have it thrust upon them. The other issue is that including audio or video that starts playing automatically takes a lot of download time and can slow your website if not hosted correctly.
Oversized Images: Similar to automatic audio, large images take time to download, especially on mobile devices with limited connectivity. The best practice is to include images that are optimised to download quickly, so that users hardly notice. People simply don’t like to be kept waiting.
Enter here: Some people still have what is known as a front door page which users have to click on to access the main website. These again are old practice and largely useless – Google doesn’t particularly care for them either, viewing them as a barrier for users. Get your website users straight onto your main page where they can engage.
Lack of Contact Details: These should be present (you’ll be surprised the number of companies that omit them) and your contact number should be at the top of any page and easily clicked when viewed on a mobile device. In other words, make it as easy as possible for potential customers to contact you.
Irrelevant content: Your site should be about one particular thing – your business – and shouldn’t contain any irrelevant content. For example, if you have a hardware site that sells screwdrivers you shouldn’t have pages that also offer cake recipes.
Don’t Over Optimise for Search Engines: We have all seen those sites that hold little appeal to the end user but have been optimised within an inch of its life. These are no longer appealing to Google and co who are now geared towards user engagement. Try to let your content flow naturally and give the user a great experience.
Don’t put all your content into an image: Whilst this might look pretty, it certainly does nothing for your ranking, make sure your content is added as text rather than as an image. You do want your website to be found don’t you?
Don’t Make it Difficult to Buy from You: Make sure there is more than one route to purchase from you even if you are a service related business. Make it as easy as possible for a potential client, use calls to actions, hyperlinks, contact info etc.
And finally, something the vast majority of us are guilty of: misspellings, typos, bad grammar etc.your site should be well-written and properly proofed before going live. Spelling errors and bad sentence construction do nothing for your site’s credibility. I openly admit, this is my Achilles heel… for whatever reason, my brain will read what it thinks should be there, rather than the actual article. Get a colleague or a trusted friend to proof read your content before making it live.